John is a chemical scientist with interdisciplinary research experience and a passionate interest in developing molecular strategies, such as treatments and tools, to tackle the scourge of infectious disease. He is currently a Junior Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry and at the Holistic Drug Discovery and Development (H3D) Centre at the University of Cape Town (UCT). In 2022, he became a Fellow of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) at UCT, a new category of membership designed to support early-level researchers through its community of scholars.
John conducts research in medicinal chemistry and chemical biology aspects of malaria drug discovery. His interests include mode-of-action studies and target deconvolution of hit compounds active against the human malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum), the medicinal chemistry optimisation of covalent and noncovalent inhibitors of Plasmodium kinases, and integrating aspects of machine learning into workflows at the H3D Centre to reduce compound attrition rates. John is also passionate about using his skills to promote science and improve scientific literacy in South Africa and has, for over a decade, enjoyed a close association with the local section of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
John’s other major interest is music. In 2006, he was the Claude Brown Organ Scholar at Bishops (Diocesan College). That year, he accompanied the Bishops Chapel Choir on its choral tour to Russia, attended masterclasses in the UK with David Sanger, Anne Marsden Thomas and Catherine Ennis, and gave a recital in the Netherlands. In 2007, he was awarded the Cape Organ Guild Barrow-Dowling Scholarship and passed his licentiate recital diploma (LTCL) with distinction.
For three years, while a student at UCT, John trained and conducted the UCT Choir, the most diverse musical group on campus. In 2012, the UCT Choir was awarded the prize for Most Outstanding Senior Choir in the Cape Town Eisteddfod and the prizes for Best University Choir and Best African Works in the national finals of the ATKV-Animato Koorkompetisie.
John currently directs his own choral group, VOX Cape Town, and has volunteered as a broadcaster on community station Fine Music Radio since 2006. Last year, John won the South African Radio Award in the Best Community Music Show category for his programme celebrating the life and music of the late Peter Klatzow. Since 2018, John has shared the pre-concert talks for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra's symphony concerts and, since 2019, he has presented the live broadcasts of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival's evening concerts.
When not occupied with molecules or music (or reading about them!), John can be found on the squash court or on the trails of his beloved Table Mountain.