“Live full and die empty.” — Les Brown

Sinazo Nqeketo


Technology & Innovation

Organisation / Company

Nelson Mandela University


Sinazo Nqeketo, 27, a postdoctoral research fellow at Nelson Mandela University, has developed sustainable methods to make two breakthrough drugs in the war against HIV. One is called Dolutegravir, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation as a first-line treatment of HIV initiating antiretroviral therapy globally, and the other is Cabotegravir, the first HIV prevention injection approved in South Africa in 2022. She feels that her work has contributed to the African Union’s goal of Africa manufacturing 60% of its own vaccines by 2040. In her work Sinazo makes use of a new technology called continuous flow technology, which uses better methods for making chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and her role at the university is to devise ways of doing so in a cost-effective and green manner. She’s learnt that her work in the laboratory is often slow and time-consuming, and has developed the patience and resilience that it demands. Using flow chemistry for conducting research and for production is a new field in South Africa, and Sinazo is excited about the job and skills opportunities it potentially offers.


Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry, Nelson Mandela University
BSc (Honours) Chemistry, Cum Laude, University of the Western Cape
BSc Chemical Science, Summa Cum Laude, University of the Western Cape


I successfully developed a method to manufacture Dolutegravir, which is currently recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the first-line treatment of HIV initiating antiretroviral therapy globally. The methodology that I have developed potentially enables the drug to be efficiently manufactured in high yield and cost effectively. This pioneering research potentially enables South Africa to locally manufacture AIDS drugs on the continent for the first time.

I also successfully developed a method for manufacturing Cabotegravir, the first HIV prevention injection approved in South Africa, in December 2022. I presented my successful research work at the 24th International AIDS Conference which took place in Montreal, Canada in 2022 with more than 12 000 people in attendance from across the world. It was a huge contribution towards the global goal of ending the HIV epidemic.

The achievement of these projects taught me the significant role of my work in the knowledge, technology transfer and sustainability of the local pharmaceutical industry, and in global public health.


There are several role models who have positively influenced my journey; some inspired me from a distance. One of them, though I never got an opportunity to meet him in person, is the late Professor Bongani Mayosi. His goal was to provide affordable healthcare to every African citizen by finding African solutions for African problems, which aligns strongly with my purpose. He was successful as an academic and as a health advocate which showed me that indeed it is possible to be an excellent researcher making an impact towards the betterment of our continent.