Although faced with grave personal challenges throughout her postgraduate studies, Dr Patricia Govender managed to graduate with her PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) School of Chemistry and Physics.
While pursuing her Baccalaureus Procurationis (BProc) degree with the intent of becoming a Patent Attorney, her son, Teshan Govender, was diagnosed with Duchene Muscular Dystrophy; a terminal genetic disorder. Despite her challenging circumstances, she pursued her Honours and a Master’s degrees in Analytical Chemistry whilst taking care of Teshan. In March 2012, she registered for her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry. Two months into her PhD studies, Teshan passed away on Mother’s Day (13 May 2012).
A devastated Govender deregistered from her studies. However, after much heartache and struggle with the loss of her son, she courageously re-registered for her PhD in 2015; compelled to conduct research that would contribute to the development of drugs to treat bacterial infection, cancer, malaria and ultimately save lives.
Govender’s PhD study involved the synthesis and biological activity of quinoline derivatives. “The PhD project afforded me the opportunity to develop different expertise and explore a new research interest. The development of new antibacterials locally will make these drugs cost effective and affordable for the majority of South Africans and possibly avoid importing more expensive drugs from abroad. If developed into effective antibiotics, these drugs will also help boost South Africa’s economy by possibly developing small drug manufacturing plants in South Africa, creating jobs and helping alleviate poverty,” said Govender.
Govender honoured her son’s memory with a dedication she wrote in her thesis.
Caption for photo: Dr Patricia Govender at her graduation ceremony held on the UKZN Westville campus recently.
Source University of KwaZulu-Natal