A leading US-based Kenyan scientist has achieved a major milestone, becoming the first African to be granted over 100 patents by the US Patents and Trade Office.
Dr F. George Njoroge, a senior research fellow at global pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, achieved the fete with the discovery of novel molecules used to treat viral infections.
Dr Njoroge’s research area focuses on drug discovery and development. While working at Merck Research Laboratories, his research led to the discovery of Victrelis, the first oral Hepatitis C drug. Victrelis was approved by the FDA in 2011 and is currently on sale in more than 45 countries worldwide, with over $1 billion in sales. The discovery won him a coveted “2012 Hero of Chemistry” honor by American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Dr Njoroge holds a He holds a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. He also holds a masters degree in Chemistry from the same university and a Bachelor’s degree from Nairobi University. He completed his ‘A’ levels at Thika High School in 1975. He was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Pharmacy degree by Mt Kenya University of 2014.
In addition to the more than 100 patents, Dr Njoroge has authored and co-authored over 120 scientific publications.
Saying Kenya and Africa in general lags behind in scientific research, Dr Njoroge urges Kenyan universities to ensure they develop technologically qualified graduates. “We should change the emphasis of university education and put more weight on research rather than just concentrating on informational based teaching. The quality of education should be emphasized and government agencies should make sure that this is not compromised what so ever,”
He also challenges Kenyan venture capitalists to support start-up biotechnology companies, saying such investment will not only lead to discovering remedies for diseases that have greatly afflicted human suffering such as AIDS and malaria, but will also lead to innovations that can spur industrialization and bring great financial and economical benefits to the country.