From Dream to PhD: Dr Takunda Gwanzura’s Quest to Find Cure for Cancer

Having received his PhD from Stellenbosch University for his groundbreaking research in cancer treatment using carbon nanotubes, Dr Takunda Gwanzura’s research under the supervision of Professor Willem Perold has evolved from a teenage dream to a game-changing innovation. It combines nanotechnology and biochemistry to target breast and colorectal cancer.

Takunda’s research honed in on four ethnomedicinal plants native to Southern Africa, extracting 65 bioactive compounds. He realised that any breakthrough in cancer treatment would need a blend of two or more scientific fields, so he centred his studies around nanotechnology and biochemistry.

From Dream to PhD: Takunda’s Story

At just 15 years old, Takunda had a dream. He wanted to formulate a cure for cancer, a disease that affects millions worldwide. Fifteen years later, he found himself receiving his PhD from Stellenbosch University, with his research focused on pioneering treatments for cancer. 

His thesis delved into the potential of carbon nanotubes as therapeutic nanocarriers for ethnomedicinal plant extracts found in Southern Africa, known for their anticancer properties, specifically targeting breast and colorectal cancer.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Takunda has aligned his career path to fulfil his dream. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

“After my master’s degree in Applied Science in Chemistry, I decided to pursue a PhD only if my research could meet a societal need. Through a separate entrepreneurial endeavour, I met Prof Willie Perold from SU’s Engineering Faculty. He agreed that my idea could be a breakthrough.”

Making A Global Impact

He chose SU for this journey, seeing it as a place where innovation meets implementation. “You can have the brightest idea, but without the right institution, it remains just an idea. The support from supervisors and peers, the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and the entrepreneurial drive from InnovUS (SU’s innovation company) all enabled me to continue my studies at the university.”

Currently, the methodology of his PhD is being patented for a UK patent application with the assistance of InnovUS.

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