Department of Chemistry Organises Workshop on Structure Elucidation of Natural Products

The Department of Chemistry has organised a workshop on “Structure Elucidation of Natural Products Ghana (SENp-G)” that consisted of a four-day virtual session and a five-day in-person hands-on session at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP). 

The programme was designed to enhance the skills in structural elucidation of natural products with a focus on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Participants were drawn from all relevant institutions, including graduate students researching on drug discovery, as well as early career researchers of natural products, from public institutions in Ghana. It was also to enhance collaboration and networking among participants and facilitators. The workshop which marks the maiden edition received funding from the International Society of Magnetic Resonance (ISMAR), the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID) and MES Equipment Limited.

At the opening ceremony, the Dean of the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Prof. Sandow Mark Yidana, welcomed the participants and facilitators and indicated that due to the growing global competition, there is always the need to innovate and collaborate to meet the demands of a competitive world. He clarified that since innovation is important to the University, each department is working via its personnel to innovate and maintain high standards. He also urged participants to make the most of the resources at hand because the nation and the setting in which we find ourselves are both fiercely competitive.

A cross-section of participants at the Workshop

Dr. Mary Chama, Head of the Department of Chemistry, and the organiser of the SENp-G workshop, explained that both local and international facilitators with the requisite expertise in structure elucidation of Natural Products were hand-picked to train participants through a five-day rigorous hands-on exercise. 

She added that “one cannot be a drug discovery researcher without knowing the structure of molecules, so it is expedient to learn how to identify the structure of a molecule using the state-of-the-art instrumentation such as the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer available at the Department of Chemistry. The active principle in a drug is a chemical and its structure determines the drug’s physicochemical properties, and its absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion, and toxicity properties. These eventually affect the pharmacological activity of the drug molecule. She wished the participants an inspiring and fulfilling workshop, and expressed the hope that they would be competent enough to impart the knowledge and skills to students and other researchers.

A cross-section of participants at the Workshop

The 28 participants were from University of Ghana (UG), University of Cape Coast (UCC), Kwame Nkrumah University Science Technology (KNUST), and the University for Development Studies (UDS), as well as Nigerian graduate student. 

The facilitators at the hands-on workshop included Dr. Godwin A. Dziwornu, a drug discovery investigator at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The rest were Prof. Kwaku Kyeremeh,Department of Chemistry, University of Ghana, Dr. Edmund Ekuadzi,Department ofPharmacognosy, KNUST and Dr. Mary Chama, the organiser of the workshop.

The workshop hopefully places University of Ghana in a position to host the future ISMAR (the main sponsors) biennial conferences. As a result of the workshop, NMR Clubs were inaugurated in each of the participating institutions. 

Facilitators and participants who successfully completed the workshop were given certificates of participation in the SENp-G workshop. Participants were also thankful for the opportunity and hope the workshop will be organised each year.