01 November 2018 Photo Stephen Collett
Chemistry researcher mimics natures elusive complexity
Prof Azov delivered his inaugural lecture on Molecular receptors and devices: from natural examples to functional artificial systems.

Molecular receptors and molecular machines were the focus of the most recent inaugural lecture that took place at the University of the Free State (UFS). 

According to Prof Vladimir Azov, a professor in Organic Chemistry at the UFS, molecular receptors and molecular machines are very common in nature but are still relatively novel in research labs. 

Alternative way to develop new drugs

“Molecular receptors are ubiquitous in living nature and help cells to communicate with each other, as well as to recognise molecular signals coming from the outer medium. Molecular machines are nanometer-size devices that drive many important cellular processes. Understanding and mimicking these molecular species will help us to create new drugs, materials, and nanoscale devices,” he said.

Prof Azov, who joined the UFS in 2018, delivered his inaugural lecture titled Molecular receptors and devices: from natural examples to functional artificial systems.

Passionate about chemistry throughout his life, Prof Azov devoted himself to an academic career, working in many different research areas, including organic chemistry, materials chemistry, and molecular self-organisation. 

International influences

Driven by curiosity and a strong desire to work together and learn from leading research teams at different places around the globe, Prof Azov studied in Russia and the US and worked in Switzerland and Germany. He received his PhD from Emory University, USA, in 2001, and before joining the UFS Department of Chemistry, he served as Senior Lecturer at the University of Bremen in Germany. 

Now, he is thrilled to continue his professional (and personal) life in South Africa. “Although life in South Africa is quite different from life in Europe in terms of weather, language, and huge open spaces, UFS labs are well equipped and offer excellent opportunity for performing first-class research,” he said.

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