American Chemical Society announces a new editor in chief, Kelly Chibale — first from Africa

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2022 – The Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) has appointed Kelly Chibale as editor in chief of ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. Chibale is the first editor in chief from Africa of an ACS journal.

The Zambian native shares, “I am excited to take on this role because it is an excellent opportunity for me to serve the drug discovery community and contribute to shaping the field. I plan to embrace continuity and change by sustaining what is excellent in current practices of the journal and being an agent of change towards building a globally diverse and inclusive community, with a soft spot for early career researchers.”

Chibale will assume the role in January 2023, replacing Dennis C. Liotta, the founding editor in chief since the journal launched in 2010. Currently, Chibale is an associate editor of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and an editorial advisory board member for ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters, ACS Infectious Diseases, Accounts of Chemical Research and ACS Bio & Med Chem Au.

Chibale obtained his Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge and completed postdocs at the University of Liverpool in the U.K. and  Scripps Research. He was a U.S. Fulbright senior research scholar and studied at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Currently, Chibale is a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he holds the Neville Isdell chair in African-centric drug discovery and development. He is also founder and director of the UCT Holistic Drug Discovery and Development Centre, the South Africa research chair in drug discovery at UCT, and founding director of the South African Medical Research Council/Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit at UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine.

With ACS’ heightened focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and respect, Chibale’s appointment represents one of the many ways the Society continuously seeks to elevate and innovate its service to members as the most cited and most read publisher in the chemical enterprise. “Chibale is a pioneer and a leading synthetic organic chemist whose research has largely contributed to the global health drug discovery. We’re thrilled he chose ACS,” says James Milne, president of ACS Publications. “Aside from numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Fortune magazine’s 2018 world’s 50 greatest leaders, Chibale has been an active ACS member since 1994, underscoring his commitment to ACS and our shared mission.”

“I have a vested interest in pushing the frontiers of medicinal chemistry,” Chibale says. “I will bring prominence to tropical and neglected diseases and will be a role model for underrepresented minority groups, which can, in turn, potentially attract minority groups to the journal.”

ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters focuses on a broad range of subject matter, including compound design and optimization, biological evaluation, drug delivery, imaging agents, and pharmacology of both small and large bioactive molecules.


The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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