It was during the NRF Awards Ceremony that took place on 12 September 2019 at Lord Charles Hotel, Somerset West, Cape Town, when Dr Ntakadzeni Edwin Madala was awarded a prestigious NRF award for Early career/emerging researcher of the year. Among his research works, Dr Madala dedicated most of his time conducting an in-depth biological and chemical characterization of active naturally occurring isomers of plant metabolites with various properties against diseases such as HIV/AIDS and cardiovascular disease. 

Dr Ntakadzeni Edwin Madala

He said “this award validates my ambitions of becoming a world-renowned analytical biochemistry and it gives me pleasure to see scientists from historically disadvantaged institutions being recognized by reputable national structures such as NRF. I wish the award could encourage my colleagues here at UNIVEN to regard quality over quantity when it comes to research activities” 

Dr Madala’s research focuses on analytical methods for the extraction and precise identification of metabolites from plants with known medicinal applications. He specialises in the development of separation techniques for precise identification of structurally related natural products (isomers). He obtained his PhD in Analytical Biochemistry from the University of Johannesburg in 2012 and immediately initiated a research group at the same institution. This research group has developed mass spectrometric methods to differentiate isomers in collaboration with the CSIR, the PNNL (USA) and the University of Surrey. This led to the development of advanced analytical methods to discriminate biological active isomers with anti-HIV properties isolated from plants. Dr Madala’s research achievements led to the development of two makeshift instruments. The first instrument is used for isolation/extraction of plant derived pharmacological compounds without the use of organic solvents. The second instrument, UV photochemical reactor, allows for artificial amplification of metabolites through UV-induced geometrical isomerization of photo-switchable drug candidates in plants. Dr Madala joined the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in 2018 as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry. To date, he has published numerous research articles, book chapters and conference proceedings in internationally renowned journals. UNIVEN prides itself with Dr Madala’s achievement. 

The University of Venda’s Vice Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni congratulated Dr Madala on this significant achievement. “I encourage other staff members, especially young academics to follow the footsteps of Dr Madala. The University of Venda is so grateful to have academics and researchers of Dr Madala’s competence, said Dr Nthambeleni. 

Dr Edwin Madala (Second from left) holding a trophy awarded to him for his achievement with Dr Blade Nzimande (Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology) (middle) and Dr Molapo Qhobela (Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation).

Issued by: 

Department of Communications & Marketing 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 

Date: 23 September 2019 

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