Dr George Njoroge returned to Kenya with a wealth of experience – including discovering the anti-HCV viral drug Victrelis (a therapy for Hepatitis C treatment) – and an ambitious goal.
Armed with 30 years experience in the US manufacturing sector, Njoroge quit his job in December 2019 intent on returning to Kenya to launch a Ksh20 billion project in Naivasha.
The Kenyan scientist set his sights on establishing a research and drug facility that would see the creation of 10,000 jobs in the country. Dr Njoroge has already embarked on setting up the project named the Centre of Africa’s Life Sciences (COALS) on a 400-acre land parcel.
The Daily Nation on Sunday, March 15, reported that the project is expected to boost a convention and leadership centre, an innovation and botanical garden, drug manufacturing, university of life science college of pharmacy as well as a cancer research and management centre.
Dr. Njoroge (first from right) lauded as the latest Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2012.
According to Njoroge, the project is already underway with the County Government of Nakuru committing to support the project.
“We have already started the work, which is building road networks so that the project can start immediately,” stated the researcher.
He expressed his belief that the project would revolutionise research in the region with a number of pharmaceutical companies already expressing their willingness to support the initiative. The ultimate aim of the project according to the successful researcher is to promote and nurture the growth of biotechnology in Africa.
“We intend to establish an enterprise where top scientists across the world and their entrepreneurial counterparts will converge to foster a relationship that will culminate in innovating the best life science products that will benefit humankind,” Njoroge conveyed.
The project will also boost a 1000-seat convention centre in close proximity to a 300-bed five-star hotel to accommodate visiting scientists and their guests.
Njoroge states that the question of profit will be addressed by the hospitality offered at the premises as well as the manufacturing arm of the centre.
The eventual goal of the space is to discover new medicine that will cater to the unmet needs of the Kenyan population as well as citizens from other regions of the world.
Work on the project has already begun with the planting of over 100,000 hardwood trees such as eucalyptus, grevillea and bamboo as well as the drawing of the master plan. Road networks have also been established towards the demarcated site of the project to facilitate ease of transport as building gets underway.
The man behind the project is as daunting as the project itself is uniquely placed to see through a project of such magnitude.
Dr. Njoroge, second from left, receives honorary doctorate from Mount Kenya University in 2014.
On July 14, 2018, he was honoured for being the first African scientist to be granted over 100 patents by the American Patent and Trade Office.
In the same year, the researcher was also honoured for the discovery of drugs that are currently used for the treatment of cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Njoroge is also set to receive another award in April 2020 from his alma mater, Cape Western Reserve University, for his exemplary work in research.