Instrumental AccessInstrumental Access 2019:
University of Ghana
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

In Ghana, supporting the rollout of new graduate programs in pharmaceutical chemistry and improving standardization of medicines

  • Professor Nathaniel Nii Adu Okine leading a practical session for level 100 students

  • Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry members (left to right) Dr. Lawrence Asamoah Adutwum; Dr. Samuel Frimpong-Manso; Professor Nathaniel Nii Adu Okine; Dr. Kwabena Frimpong-Manso Opuni; and Dr. Michael Lartey.

  • Students at work in the lab

  • Dr. Michael Lartey explaining a practical experiment to students

  • The School of Pharmacy at the University of Ghana in Accra

Meet our Awardee

The University of Ghana is the the oldest and largest of Ghana’s public universities. The Department of Biomedical Engineering was an Instrumental Access awardee in 2016.

The School of Pharmacy was established a decade ago to meet an urgent national need for more trained pharmacists.

The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry is one of five departments in the School of Pharmacy, contributing significantly to the training of students in the Bachelor’s of Pharmacy program as well as the new Doctor of Pharmacy program.

Research Areas

The Department’s research is focused on proteomics, chemometrics, herbal product quality assurance and standardization, post-market quality assessments of medicines, drug discovery from natural products, malaria diagnostics, pharmacokinetics, antimicrobial resistance, and monitoring pharmaceutical waste in the environment.

Adequate equipment will provide a conducive environment for our staff to solve the key health-related challenges facing the people in Ghana and Africa as a whole."

-Dr. Kwabena Frimpong-Manso Opuni, Head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemsitry

Estimating Shelf Life for Herbal Medicines:
Dr. Lawrence Asamoah Adutwum

In Ghana, as in many other parts of the world, herbal medicines are widely available and used frequently to treat a range of ailments.

These herbal products can be safe and effective at the appropriate dose and potency. However, like pharmaceuticals, they don't remain stable forever. The active ingredients can deteriorate over time, becoming more or less or differently reactive and potentially even toxic to the patients who consume them.

Unlike pharmaceuticals, however, herbal products are largely unregulated.

Bad actors can and do offer counterfeit products. But even manufacturers with the best of intentions find it difficult to assess and regulate the potency of their products. There are few standards and protocols for them to follow.

Dr. Lawrence AdutwumLawrence Asamoah Adutwum, PhD, a pharmaceutical chemist at the University of Ghana, is determined to eliminate some of the guesswork involved.

He is working on a new method to estimate the shelf life of herbal products. This is challenging because herbal products typically contain a variety of compounds, and the ingredients often work together to produce the desired effect.

While the shelf-life of a typical pharmaceutical product can be determined easily by monitoring the levels of a few active ingredients that break down in ways that are well-understood, with an herbal product, it’s hard to know where to start.

By combining spectroscopic techniques and machine learning, however, Dr. Adutwum believes that it will be possible to identify a chemical fingerprint for each herbal formulation, and also to detect variations from that fingerprint as the product changes over time.

When the method has been tested, Dr. Adutwum intends to discuss the outcomes with key stakeholders in  herbal medicine manufacturing, consumption, and regulation.

He aims to improve public health through by helping consumers have access to quality herbal products.

"This will revolutionize the herbal product industry as manufacturers can establish their own setups to determine shelf life of their products," says Dr. Adutwum.

Equipment from Instrumental Access will support Dr. Adutwum’s efforts, as well as additional research and teaching in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

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University of Ghana
The problems that our world faces tomorrow will be solved by the students we train today. It is very important that our future leaders are trained with the best scientific equipment to make them well prepared for the challenges ahead."
-Dr. Lawrence Asamoah Adutwum, Lecturer, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
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About the Department

Location: Accra, Ghana
Year Established: 2007
Number of Faculty: 12
Number of Students Impacted Annually: 300 undergraduate, 20 graduate


Why Instrumental Access?

The Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry needs equipment to efficiently roll out new graduate programs in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, currently planned for August 2019, as well as a program in medicines regulation that is under development.

There are also plans to establish an ISO 17025 accredited quality control laboratory to support local manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and herbal products.

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About Instrumental Access

Instrumental Access empowers scientists in developing countries. It gives them the resources they need to pursue life-changing research and teach the next generation.

To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.