17 September 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
Science Its a girl thing
Innocensia Mangoato’s research on using cannabis to reverse anticancer drug resistance has been awarded in the prestigious Women in Science Awards.

“There’s this misconception among young people that science is difficult and that it’s somehow a man’s domain,” says Innocensia Mangoato, Masters student in Pharmacology, who has just been awarded in the prestigious Women in Science Awards by the Department of Science and Technology.

Cannabis research

Innocensia won in the Master’s Degree category for her research on the use of cannabis in reversing anticancer drug resistance. Her department had to apply for a special permit to grow cannabis for research and medicinal purposes.

“Her findings have already indicated a promising reversal of resistance to drugs in a variety of cancers. We plan to explore these results further in a possible PhD,” says her study leader, Prof Motlalepula Matsabisa.

Innocensia says she’s always had an interest in science, and initially wanted to study medicine. She ended up doing a BSc in Physiology and Genetics.

She hopes that her research will help government to develop a policy around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes which could ultimately lead to developing cancer treatment with fewer side-effects.

Female mentors

“My mentor during my Honours studies was Dr Makhotso Lekhoa. Her passion for her field and her patience in conveying it to others really inspired me. We have some very powerful women in our Pharmacology Department,” says Innocensia.

Passion for science 

“You know you’re passionate about your work when you find yourself going to the lab on Sunday afternoons!” she says. “I’m happy that I can be contributing to the knowledge production on this campus. And maybe one day I can be a mentor to other girls with that same passion for science.”

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