The mechanism of malaria pigment formation
Transmission electron micrograph showing haemozoin crystals in Plasmodium falciparum. The insets indicate lattice fringes and an electron diffraction pattern.
Metal-organic frameworks
We are interested in the structure of ferrihaem in the solid state. The figure shows the mu-oxo dimer of ferrihaem encapsulated within a metal-organic framework.
Fluorescent probes
Novel fluorescent probes generate insights into the mechanisms of action of antimalarial agents. Colocalisation (yellow) can be seen between a novel quinine analogue (green) and Nile red (a lipid probe).
Computational studies
Computational methods have been used to explore various properties of ferrihaem. For example, density functional theory has been used to accurately model the structure of ferrihaem species.



The focus of the bioinorganic research group at the University of Cape Town is to understand how the malaria parasite deals with the large influx of haem associated with ingestion and degradation of haemoglobin in its digestive vacuole and the effects of antimalarials such as chloroquine, which inhibit this process. In pursuit of this goal, we have various facets to our research endeavours, which include:

  • Biomimetic investigations of β-haematin (synthetic haemozoin/malaria pigment) formation.
  • Speciation and behaviour of free Fe(III) haem in aqueous solution.
  • Interaction of Fe(III) haem with antimalarials and effects on haem in cultured parasites.
  • Synthesis and structure-activity relationship studies on β-haematin inhibiting compounds.

My philosophy is to foster communication and collaboration within my group. This promotes interaction among group members and helps to achieve results. This collaborative spirit has engendered an esprit de corps among my graduate students (who have dubbed us the Haem Team). As a consequence, the Team is also active in many aspects of the life of the Department. I invite you to see more about the scientific and extracurricular activities of our group on this site.