Viness Pillay has made significant and multi-faceted contributions in terms of research outputs, infrastructure development and human capacity development and training at Wits University. The future of nanoscience he believes is poised to make rather substantial life changing breakthroughs for humankind. We lift the lid in a brief Q &A with Prof Pillay.
1. Where did you study?
I attained my PhD from Temple University, School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia (USA) as a Fulbright Scholar Awardee after completing a Master of Pharmacy degree cum laude from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at the University of Durban-Westville in South Africa.
2. What was your path to your present position? Is this your first academic post?
I am a Personal Professor of Pharmaceutics in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Director of the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP+), the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI) Center of Excellence in “Advanced Drug Delivery Technology’ as well as a South African DST/NRF SARChI Research Chair in ‘Pharmaceutical Biomaterials and Polymer-Engineered Drug Delivery Technologies’. My scientific career was established in South Africa after returning from the USA when I joined the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at Wits University in 2001. Previously I served as an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Florida A&M University, Tallahassee (USA).
3. What is the essence of your field of research?
The essence of my research focus in nanotechnology is the application of nanovectors in the design of novel commercializable drug delivery technologies to advance the areas of neuro-nanopharmaceutics, chronotherapeutics, in silico molecular modeling theories and several other niche areas of pharmaceutics.
4. What is the relevance of your field of research to wider society?
I recognized the urgent need for developing innovative ways of delivering various drugs into the human body more effectively with reduced side-effects and improved patient compliance for chronic neurodegenerative disorders. This is relevant for enabling the understanding of how to control the rate of drug delivery in the human body, how to sustain the duration of therapy and how to manoeuvre the drug to target a specific organ or tissue while maintaining appropriate blood concentrations of drug.
And the future? Working with Specialist Neurologist, Prof. Girish Modi, Viness Pillay believes that the future holds the prospects for Neuro-Nanopharmaceutical technology to more effectively treat individuals suffering from neurodegenerative disorders and chronically debilitating Central Nervous System illnesses. Just imagine. And that precisely is the mindset at Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform.
Writers: Prof V. Pillay and Prof JL Limson