Yahya Choonara

Yahya Choonara was elected as an AAS Fellow in 2019. As a fellow, Yahya Choonara contributes to the development of the Academy’s strategic direction through participation in AAS activities and governance structures. . This gears the Academys vision of transforming african lives through science.

South Africa
Year elected
Medical & Health Sciences
Professor Yahya Choonara is internationally recognized as an outstanding global pharmaceutical scientist working for 16 years at the forefront of the pharmaceutical sciences to produce advanced life-saving medicines that have an impact on global infectious, hereditary and lifestyle diseases. A Pharmacist by profession, in 2007 he co-founded the University of Witwatersrand’s Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) Research Unit, Africa’s largest Research Unit in its domain. Based in a LMIC he has contributed enormously to basic and translational pharmaceutical research focusing on intellectual property in the design of novel drug delivery systems, nanomedicines, functional biomaterials and regenerative medicine to produce 21st Century patient-centric medicines for disease prevention/treatment. He is a Personal Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the University of Witwatersrand’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology and the Director of the WADDP Research Unit, one of the flagship research units of Wits University. He is also a South African National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Chair in Pharmaceutical Biomaterials and Polymer-Engineered Drug Delivery Technologies. He is a nominated Fellow of the African Academy of Science (AAS), The World Academy of Science (TWAS), an AIM Advisory and Industrial Pharmacy Exco member for the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and invited onto the Leadership of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Nanotechnology Community. He also features in Stanford University’s Top 2% of pharmaceutical scientists globally (for 3 consecutive years; 2020 – 2022). He is an inventor of 43 pharmaceutical product patents aimed at improving the treatment of infectious diseases, oncology, neurotrauma and within special populations such as paediatrics as well as in women health. He is the first pharmacist in South Africa to be awarded the national Department of Science and Innovation (DSI)’s Top Intellectual Property (IP) Creator Award, one of the country’s highest awards, for exceptional and distinguished contributions to the South African innovation (health) sector stemming from his 28 internationally granted patents. In 2022 he received the Olusegun Obasanjo Award (the highest award conferred by the AAS) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Distinguished Pharmaceutical Science Award (first in Africa) for his outstanding contributions to the Pharmaceutical Sciences and sustained record of dedicated service to the FIP. The FIP is the global body representing more than 4 million pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists. He also received the Vice Chancellor’s Research Innovation Award 2021 at Wits University, the highest award at Wits for innovation and a National Science and Technology Foundation (NSTF) Award (2012) for his seminal work in designing first-in-the-world pharma technologies, a SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Award for challenging conformist thinking on advanced therapeutics for the pharmaceutical and health sectors. He is a prolific scholar having published >370 research articles in ISI-accredited journals, 55 book chapters, Editor of 2 books and contributed to >301 scientific presentations. His work is highly cited with >12000 citations (H-index=55) with collaborative networks in >15 countries. He is passionate on developing the next generation of Pharmaceutical Scientists and has graduated >110 postgraduates and mentored 18 postdocs from nine countries. He is also a Founding Member of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). The impact of his leadership has resulted in many of his students receiving prestigious emerging researcher awards such as the Wits Most Prestigious PhD Degree Awards on 5 occasions, Young African Researcher Award, the Global Young Academy (GYA), M&G Top 200 Young South Africans, African-German Network of Excellence and the 4 alumni to the Novartis Next Generation Scientists program (Basel, Switzerland).