An accomplished academic, an amazing scientist, and now a highly recognised voice in the global health community. The appointment to the World Health Organisation’s Expert Advisory Panel is yet another testament to the dedication of Professor Admire Dube. And with his passion for improving global health, we can only imagine the impact he will have on the panel, in Africa and the world at large.
Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and currently residing in Cape Town, Dube is the firstborn in a family of four and describes his childhood as a happy one.
From an early age, he had an interest in the sciences, in particular biology, chemistry, and mathematics, and was fortunate to have teachers who stimulated his interest in the sciences.
Although he did have some idea of what a pharmacist does, it was not the primary determining factor for his choice to complete a degree in the field. His passion for sciences led to him graduating with a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences in 2011.
A natural choice
“It was a natural choice for me to select a degree in the sciences at university. Initially, I intended to study medicine, however, I did not make the selection and was offered pharmacy instead. Looking back, I have no regrets about studying pharmacy,” he says.
He says this realisation drew him closer to the field.
“After completing a bachelor of pharmacy degree at the University of Zimbabwe, I set out to embark on a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town. Toward the end of my studies for my bachelor’s, I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD in the field. I looked up to my professors as role models, and I wanted to attain a PhD and be like them,” he says.
“At UWC, my interest in research grew, and I continued on to study towards a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences in Australia at Monash University. The first part of my studies was not easy as I did not have funding to support my studies. However, I later obtained a scholarship and was able to complete my PhD with research in the field of nanotechnology and drug delivery (nanomedicine).”
To further develop his research skills, he took on a postdoctoral fellowship in the United States, and this time his research was focused on nanomedicine and tuberculosis.
Sharing knowledge is his way of life
Dube emphasises that he enjoys all aspects of his career and does not see it as a job but rather a part of his life. He says he also derives much joy from being able to mentor students and other scientists and develop their careers.
“On a day-to-day basis, my work involves conceptualising new ways of addressing the challenge of treating tuberculosis in a better way using nanotechnology. I supervise a team of master’s and PhD students and postdoctoral scientists. This involves the reviewing of their experimental results and proposing new experiments or aspects to investigate,” he explains.
“I also read research papers in the field and also write research papers about the work we do. I also teach the subject of pharmaceutics (the science of designing and manufacturing medicines) as well as the subject of nanomedicines to undergraduate pharmacy students as well as postgraduate students (we offer an MSc in nanoscience at UWC).”
Recently appointed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on International Pharmacopoeia and Pharmaceutical Preparations, which commenced in August 2023 and spans a four-year term, Dube says it is humbling to be involved in the quality of medicines at such a level.
“I will use my knowledge and experiences to contribute to the standards that should be in place for medicines. These are standards that are to be recommended globally to ensure that there are good-quality, safe, and effective medicines available worldwide.”
Building a legacy in healthcare
Being promoted to the level of professor has also been one of his proudest moments. “This has been a recognition by my peers of contributions in the field of pharmaceutical sciences in relation to learning and teaching, research, and community engagement.”
Dube mentions that, overall, everything achieved has been through hard work and determination. He says it has not been easy to achieve all the qualifications, travel abroad for studies, and establish a productive research group. However, having people to assist him along the way, including teachers, mentors, collaborators, and his family, has been a great support to get him to where he is today.
“I believe that it is here that one can make unique contributions for the benefit of society. Also, I have learned that you can succeed even while taking time to help others along the way,” he states.
“I want to be remembered as someone who brought people together to solve problems in healthcare and as someone who was a key driver and promoted nanomedicine in Africa.”
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