Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Faculty

Dr. Graham Chakafana Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry 
Location: Turner Hall 318 
Phone: 757.727.5249 
Expertise: protein structure and function, drug discovery 


Postdoctoral Fellowship- Medicine, 2022 Stanford University 

Postdoctoral Fellowship- Medicine, 2021 University of Cape Town  

PhD Protein Biochemistry, 2020 University of Venda  

MSc Microbiology (Distinction), 2015 National University of Science and Technology 

BSc (Hons) Biotechnology, 2011 Chinhoyi University of Technology 

Chemistry Courses taught: 
Biochemistry, Biophysical chemistry, Research topics in Chemistry 

Research Interests and Expertise: 
My research generally focuses on the structure and functions of heat shock proteins (Hsps) in malaria and cardiac disease with the goal of targeting select Hsps towards drug development. 

Links to my Research

Selected Publications 

  • Characterisation of a novel linker segment of the Plasmodium falciparum cytosol localised Hsp110 chaperone. 2021. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules. G. Chakafana, P. T. Mudau, T. Zininga, A. Shonhai  
  • E. coli-based complementation assay and biochemical analyses reveal an essential role of the GGMP motif of Plasmodium falciparum Hsp70-1 chaperone. 2021. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. S. Makumire, T. Dongola, G. Chakafana, L. Tshikonwane, C.T. Chauke, T. Maharaj, T. Zininga, A. Shonhai  
  • Heat shock proteins: potential modulators and candidate biomarkers of peripartum cardiomyopathy. 2021. Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine. G. Chakafana, T. F. Spracklen, S. Kamuli, T. Zininga, A. Shonhai, N. A. B. Ntusi, K Sliwa  
  • The role of non-canonical Hsp70s (Hsp110/Grp170) in cancer. 2021. Cells. G. Chakafana, A. Shonhai  
  • Interplay of COVID19 and cardiovascular diseases in Africa: an observational screenshot. 2020. Clinical Research in Cardiology. G. Chakafana, D. Mutithu, J. Hovelmann, N. A. B. Ntusi, K. Sliwa  
  • Plasmodium falciparum R2TP complex: drivers of parasite Hsp90s. 2019. Biophysical Reviews. T. V. Seraphim, G. Chakafana, A. Shonhai, W. A. Houry  
  • Elucidating the common and unique features of P. falciparum and human Hsp70s. 2019. Biophysical Reviews. G. Chakafana, T. Zininga, A. Shonhai  
  • The link that binds: the linker of Hsp70 as a helm of protein function. 2019. Biomolecules. G. Chakafana, T. Zininga, A. Shonhai 

Professional Honors and Awards 

  • UCT, Department of Medicine Fund recipient (2021)  
  • UCT, Faculty of Health Sciences best publication award (2021)  
  • UCT, University Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020)  
  • NRF (National Research Foundation-RSA) Doctoral Study Scholarship (2017)  
  • DFG (German Research Foundation) Germany-Africa Infectiology initiative award for PhD study (2016)  
  • NUST University Book Prize (Best MSc student-Biochemistry Dept, 2015)  
  • Vice Chancellor’s Award (Best MSc student-Applied Microbiology, 2015)  
  • ZOE Manufacturer’s Prize (Best MSc student-Faculty of Science, 2015)  

Professional Affiliations: 

  • ASBMB (American Association and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)  
  • ESC (European Society of Cardiology)  
  • AHA (American Heart Association)  
  • Virginia Academy of Science  
  • American Chemical Society  

Journal Editorial Boards: 

  • Associate Editor, Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences