Technology & Innovation
University of the Witwatersrand
Poornima Ramburrun, 32, is a lecturer in pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research at the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform focuses on developing systems and bioinspired materials for peripheral nerve regeneration and infectious disease treatment.
She supervises postgraduate students, providing guidance and mentorship as they undertake their lab-based research. “Through my work, I am able to support the academic goals of young minds and help them grow into budding South African pharmaceutical scientists,” she says.
Poornima’s work has produced four patents — in South Africa, the US, Europe and China — for her artificial peripheral nerve repair innovations, which eliminate the need for donor tissues and are a game-changing development for patient recovery.
This stems from her PhD thesis, which won first prize in the Gauteng Accelerator Programme Biosciences 2022 Award. Her research output includes nine papers and two book chapters and she has also contributed to the knowledge advancement and human capacity development of six postgraduate students.
“I would like to see more female graduates and professionals in the STEM fields in leadership positions and initiating entrepreneurial ventures for advancing South Africa’s capacity for pharmaceutical and medical innovation, development and manufacturing,” Poornima says.
- PhD, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 2017
- BPharm, University of the Witwatersrand, 2012
- Springs Girls’ High School, matric, 2008
The following awards provide me with the opportunity to excel in my career:
- GAP Biosciences Innovation Competition first prize winner 2022 and seed funding for the incubation of a biodegradable hydrogel conduit for peripheral nerve repair
- National Research Foundation Thuthuka Research Grant, 2021-2023
- TIA Seed Funding for Local Innovation in the Smallholder Essential Oils Value-Chain, 2021-2023
- Research outputs: 12 publications and four patents emanating from my PhD thesis granted in South Africa, United States, Europe and China for the design of a biodegradable hydrogel conduit for peripheral nerve repair.
- Upgrade from MPharm to PhD
My favourite cartoon – is Dexter’s Laboratory. Dexter’s capacity for creating a multitude of inventions in his laboratory with the aid of his supercomputer had me dreaming of the same someday. I am amazed that this has gradually become a reality.
1) Believe in yourself and know that you deserve good.
2) Nobody but you defines your potential.
3) Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.
I would like to see more female graduates and professionals in the STEM fields in leadership positions and initiating entrepreneurial ventures for advancing South Africa’s capacity for pharmaceutical and medical innovation, development and manufacturing.