Accessibility statement

Research grant fosters York-Cape Town partnership

Posted on 13 March 2020

A researcher at York is to partner with an academic at the University of Cape Town in a collaborative grant scheme designed to tackle global challenges.

Dr William Unsworth from the Department of Chemistry will work with Dr Wade Frank Petersen - a former University of York post-doctoral research associate - on a project titled ‘Rings around the globe: ‘growing’ macrocyclic drugs from York to Cape Town.’ It is hoped the project will lead to the discovery of new materials to treat infectious diseases like HIV, TB and malaria.

The research is supported by the Future Leaders – African Independent Research (FLAIR) collaboration grants programme. The programme pairs African researchers with UK scientists whose interests and fields of study align. The collaborations are designed to help develop the participants’ careers, bolster international networks and address global challenges.

The programme is run in partnership with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the Royal Society, with support from the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

Dr Unsworth said: “The University of Cape Town boasts world-leading facilities for the discovery of new ways to treat infectious disease - notably including HIV, TB and malaria. 

“We are really excited to find out whether new materials relevant to the treatment of these critical diseases can be discovered by combining our technology for the synthesis of large ring molecules with Dr Petersen's expertise in amino acid synthesis and medicinal chemistry.”

Dr Petersen said: “Infectious disease today is still of major concern, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Large ring molecules have been relatively under-explored in medicinal chemistry. One contributor to this is the challenge in making them. Dr Unsworth’s research has made this task much easier and so we are very optimistic that this research will make significant strides in finding new molecules in the fight to treat infectious disease.” 

The grant will also fund two additional African students to spend six months in Dr Unsworth’s lab working on this project.