For Dr John Woodland, science is a way of making a tangible, long-lasting impact on society.

Which is why, as part of his PhD, he developed new tools to understand how antimalarial drugs work. By attaching a fluorescent marker on the drug molecules, and following them inside parasites, Woodland was able to watch how the drugs work.

Some of his findings were published in the high-impact journal Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, which is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. Now 29, Woodland is researching the link between injectable contraceptives and HIV. He hopes that this work will eventually impact public health policy.

But Woodland is also dedicated to sharing science knowledge. He writes kid-friendly plays about chemistry, and invites children from disadvantaged communities to UCT to watch them.

Woodland’s other passion is a music group he started. The group, VOX Cape Town, juxtaposes classical and contemporary music styles, and recently secured a record deal. The young man, whose bedroom once doubled as a science laboratory, has come a long way.

His goal, however, remains unchanged: “I want to use the skills I have to develop novel ways to impact on society positively, and in a lasting way.”

|The hardest lesson I have learnt is that you have to pick yourself up after failure and get used to uncertainty.|

Categories: Healers