Spearheading groundbreaking research is the norm for UKZN’s Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit (CPRU). To assist the unit to achieve this on an ongoing basis, the US-based NGO Seeding Labs recently delivered a 20-foot (6 metre) container with 3 tons of lab equipment and supplies to support teaching and research. UKZN is one of 16 universities selected to receive research and teaching equipment through Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access programme.
The Instrumental Access equipment will help the CPRU to accelerate drug discovery research projects, and increase research opportunities for students in the pharmaceutical sciences at UKZN. The equipment will mainly be housed in a laboratory with stringent safety requirements where research on the discovery of novel antibiotics for carbapenem resistance is conducted.
Professor Thavi Govender, one of the co-founders of the CPRU and Principal Investigator of many of its projects, commented on the delivery: ‘Antibiotic resistance is increasing globally. The world is rapidly reaching a situation similar to the pre-antibiotic era where widely used antibiotics are becoming useless in treating everyday infections. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop new drugs to target drug resistant pathogens. New hot-topic research areas are like speed trains leaving a station, if a researcher is not on board from the beginning then it’s tough to catch up. This equipment will enable UKZN to set up routine testing for all researchers across the country who want to submit compounds for evaluation. We are truly grateful to have been selected for this contribution.’
Seeding Labs is a Boston-based nonprofit organisation that catalyzes scientific progress in the developing world by equipping scientists with the tools, training, and connections they need to be at the cutting-edge of global discovery. Working with corporate and academic partners, Seeding Labs has provided more than $3.7 million in surplus lab equipment and training programs to scientists at 42 universities and research institutions in 26 countries since 2003. Seeding Labs is supported by USAID’s Global Development Lab and was named one of Fast Company magazine’s top 10 most innovative not-for-profit companies in 2015.
Dr Nina Dudnik, Seeding Labs’ founder and CEO said, ‘Despite the abundance of scientific talent around the world, lack of equipment is a simple but widespread barrier that can prevent talent from being expressed at its fullest. We are excited that our partnership with UKZN will expand education opportunities for hundreds of students and accelerate ongoing drug discovery research on drug-resistant infectious diseases like HIV and TB.’