Student Activities


The Natural Product Research Lab is run and managed by a group of competent staff with a wealth of experience. The group constitute of two Professors, one Associate Professor, three Senior Lecturers and one Lecturer . The group also has the high number of postgraduate students (both MSc and PhD) within the college, including international students from Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Cameroon, South Sudan. The group has direct access to Chromatographic (HPLC, MPLC, Chromatotron) and Spectroscopic (IR, UV, NMR, MPLC, NMR (60 MHz, 400 MHz) instruments. High field NMR and MS analyses are done through international collaboration (Figure 1). Bench-top bioassay is conducted by members of the group while specialised biological tests of crude extracts and pure compounds are done through national and international partnerships.  Particularly the antiplasmodial collaboration with the Walter Reed Project, US-Army, based in Kenya, has been the most productive. Plant collections and authentication is done through partnership with the taxonomists based at the Herbarium, School of Biological Sciences, University of Nairobi. In addition to the academic atmosphere, the social association within the group has made an additional reason in making our group attractive to postgraduate students. The Natural Product Research Network for Eastern and Central Africa (NAPRECA) has its coordination office in this Department.


Members of staff of the Natural Products Research Lab

1. Jacob Midiwo-

Prof. Midiwo is a professor of of Organic Chemistry with special research interest Natural Products Chemistry

2. Professor Abiy Yenesew-

Abiy Yenesew is a professor of Organic Chemistry with special research interest Natural Products Chemistry

3. Prof. Leonidah Kerubo-

An Associate professor of Organic Chemistry with special research interest in Microbial and Plants Natural Products Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Biopesticides Chromatography Drug Discovery

4. Dr. Solomon Derese

Dr Derese is Senior Lecturer of Organic Chemistry with special research interest in Natural Products Chemistry, Computer Aided Drug Design.

5. Dr, Albert Ndakala-

Dr Ndakala is a Senior Lecturer of Organic Chemistry with special research interest in Organic Synthesis, Medicinal Chemistry, Drug Discovery

6. Dr John Wanjohi-

Dr, Wanjohi is a Lecturer of Organic Chemistry with a research interest in Natural products

7. Dr. Beth Ndunda-

Dr. Ndunda is a Lecturer of Organic Chemistry with a research interest in Natural products


Research Area

The overall research objective of the group is to identify, extracts and pure compounds towards the control of some neglected tropical diseases. Over the last 30 years, members of the group have isolated and characterized over hundred novel natural products from medicinal plants some of which have showed significant activities against parasitic and microorganism diseases of the tropics. The main focus will be on discovery of anti-malarial compounds and herbal preparations. All the  anti-malarial drugs in the market have experienced resistance by the microorganism, even the most recent and much heralded artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) which are currently the first line treatment for the disease in many parts of the tropical region, have faced this set back. Testing of extracts and compounds for the other causative agents for tropical diseases – Leshmania, pathogenic bacteria and fungi will also be undertaken. The group is highly productive as demonstrated by the number of publications originating from the group and the number of PhD and MSc graduates from the group.



Carolyne Chepkirui, Purity J Ochieng, Biswajyoti Sarkar, Aabid Hussain, Chiranjib Pal, Li Jun Yang, Paolo Coghi, Hoseah M Akala, Solomon Derese, Albert Ndakala, Matthias Heydenreich, Vincent KW Wong, Máté Erdélyi, Abiy Yenesew. (2021). Antiplasmodial and antileishmanial flavonoids from Mundulea sericea. Fitoterapia. 149, 104796.

Moses Andima, Albert Ndakala , Solomon Derese , Sarkar Biswajyoti , Aabid Hussain , Li Jun Yang , Otieno Elsie Akoth , Paolo Coghi , Chiranjib Pal, Matthias Heydenreich , Vincent Kam-Wai Wong , and Abiy Yenesew (2021). Antileishmanial and cytotoxic activity of secondary metabolites from Taberneamontana ventricose and two aloe species. Natural Product Research.

Chalo, D.M., Kakudidi, E., Origa-Oryem, H., Namukobe, J., Franke, ., Yenesew, A., Wessjohann L. A. (2020). Chemical constituents of the roots of Ormocarpum sennoides subsp. zanzibaricum. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 93, 104142.

Yoseph Atilaw, Lois Muiva-Mutisya, Jonathan Bogaerts, Sandra Duffy, Arto Valkonen, Matthias Heydenreich, Vicky M Avery, Kari Rissanen, Máté Erdélyi, Abiy Yenesew (2020). Prenylated Flavonoids from the Roots of Tephrosia rhodesica. Journal of Natural Products 83, 2390-2398.

Daniel Buyinza, Duncan Mutiso Chalo, Solomon Derese, Albert Ndakala, Abiy Yenesew. (2020). Flavonoids and Isoflavonoids of Millettia dura and Millettia ferruginea: Phytochemical review and chemotaxonomic values. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 91, August 2020, 104053.

Magrate M. Kaigongi, Catherine W. Lukhoba, Purity J. Ochieng‘, Malcolm Taylor, Abiy Yenesew and Nokwanda P. Makunga (2020). LC-MS-Based Metabolomics for the Chemosystematics of Kenyan Dodonaea viscosa Jacq (Sapindaceae) Populations. Molecules 25, 4130; doi:10.3390/molecules25184130.

Magrate M. Kaigongi, Catherine W. Lukhoba, Souaibou Yaouba, Nokwanda P. Makunga 4, Joseph Githiomi and Abiy Yenesew (2020). In Vitro Antimicrobial and Antiproliferative Activities of the Root Bark Extract and Isolated Chemical Constituents of Zanthoxylum paracanthum Kokwaro (Rutaceae). Plants 9, 920; doi:10.3390/plants9070920

Moses Andima, Paolo Coghi, Li Jun Yang, Vincent Kam Wai Wong, Chrispus Mutuku Ngule, Matthias Heydenreich, Albert Jairo Ndakala, Abiy Yenesew, Solomon Derese. (2020). Antiproliferative Activity of Secondary Metabolites from Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides Lam: In vitro and in silico Studies.Pharmacognosy Communications. 10(1):44-51.

Kennedy Olale, Abiy Yenesew, Ramni Jamnadass, Andrew Sila, Keith Shepherd (2019). A simple field-based method for rapid wood density estimation forselected tree species in Western Kenya. Scientific Africa. 5, e00149.

Daniel Buyinz, Li Jun Yang, Solomon Derese, Albert Ndakala, Paolo Coghi, Matthias Heydenriech, Vincent K. W. Wong, Heiko M. Möller, Abiy Yenesew. (2019) Cytotoxicity of Isoflavones from Millettia dura. Natural Product Research

Leonidah Kerubo Omosa, Gacheru Martin Mbogo, Eric Korir, Ruth Omole, Ean-Jeong Seo, Abiy Yenesew, Matthias Heydenreich, Jacob Ogweno Midiwo, Thomas Efferth. (2019) Cytotoxicity of fagaramide derivative and canthin-6-one from Zanthoxylum (Rutaceae) species against multidrug resistant leukemia cells. Natural product research.

Fozia A. Adem, Armelle T. Mbaveng, Victor Kuete, Matthias Heydenreich, Albert Ndakala, Beatrice Irungu, Abiy Yenesew and Thomas Efferth. (2019). Cytotoxicity of isoflavones and biflavonoids from Ormocarpum kirkii towards multi-factorial drug resistant cancer. Phytomedicine, 58, 152853

Souaibou Yaouba, Arto Valkonen, Paolo Coghi, Jiaying Gao, Eric M. Guantai, Solomon Derese, Vincent K. W. Wong, Máté Erdélyi and Abiy Yenesew (2018). Crystal Structures and Cytotoxicity of ent-Kaurane-Type Diterpenoids from two Aspilia species. Molecules 23 (12), 3199.

Adem, F. A., Kuete, V., Mbaveng, A. T., Heydenreich, M., Koch, A., Ndakala, A., Irungu, B., Efferth, T., Yenesew, A. (2018). Cytotoxic benzylbenzofuran derivatives from Dorstenia kameruniana. Fitoterapia 128, 26-30.

Fozia A. Adem, Victor Kuete, Armelle T. Mbaveng, Matthias Heydenreich, Andreas Koch, Albert Ndakala, Beatrice Irungu, Abiy Yenesew, Thomas Efferth. (2018). Cytotoxic flavonoids from two Lonchocarpus species. Natural Product Research

SouaibouYaouba, Solomon Derese, Eric M. Guantai, Matthias Heydenreich, Andreas Koch, AbiyYenesew. (2018). Anti-inflammatory, Cytotoxic and Antimicrobial Activities of Alkenyl Cyclohexanone derivatives from Lannea rivae and Lannea schweinfurthii. Phytochemistry Letters 23, 141-148.

Yoseph Atilaw, Lois Muiva-Mutisya, Albert Ndakala, Hoseah M. Akala, Redemptah Yeda, Yujun Wu, Paolo Coghi, Vincent K.W. Wong, Máté Erdélyi, Abiy Yenesew. (2017). Four flavones with modified prenyl groups from the stem of Tephroisa purpurea subsp. leptostachya. Molecules, 22, 1514; doi:10.3390/molecules22091514.

Marco, M., Deyou, T., Gruhonjic, A., Holleran, J., Duffy, S., Heydenreich, M., Firtzpatrick, P. A., Landberg, G., Koch, A., Derese, S., Pelletier, J., Avery, V. M., Erdélyi, M., Abiy Yenesew (2017). Two pterocarpans from Millettia dura and Millettia micans. Phytochemistry Letters 21, 216-210.

Lois M. Muiva-Mutisya, Yoseph Atilaw, Matthias Heydenreich, Andreas Koch, Hoseah M. Akala, Agnes C. Cheruiyot, Matthew L. Brown, Beatrice Irungu, Faith A. Okalebo, Solomon Derese, Charles Mutai, Abiy Yenesew. (2018). Antiplasmodial prenylated flavanonols from Tephrosia subtriflora. Natural Product Research, 32 (12), 1407-1414.

Tsegaye Deyou, Makungu Marco, Matthias Heydenreich, Fangfang Pan, Amra Gruhonjic, Paul A Fitzpatrick, Andreas Koch, Solomon Derese, Jerry Pelletier, Kari Rissanen, Abiy Yenesew, Máté Erdélyi (2017) Isoflavones and Rotenoids from the Leaves of Millettia oblata ssp. teitensis. Journal of Natural Products 80, 2060-2066. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b00255

Y. Atilaw, S. Duffy, M. Heydenreich, L. Muiva-Mutisya, V. M. Avery, Máté Erdélyi, Abiy Yenesew. (2017). Three Chalconoids and a Pterocarpene from the Roots of Tephrosia aequilata
Molecules 22(2), 318; doi:10.3390/molecules22020318

Charles N Muthaura, Joseph M Keriko, Charles Mutai, Abiy Yenesew, Matthias Heydenreich, Yoseph Atilaw, Jeremiah W Gathirwa, Beatrice N Irungu, Solomon Derese. (2017). Antiplasmodial, Cytotoxicity and Phytochemical Constituents of Four Maytenus Species Used in Traditional Medicine in Kenya. The Natural Products Journal 7, 144-152

Abdissa, N., Pan, F., Gruhonjic, A., Gräfensten, J., Fitzpatrick, P. A., Landberg, G., Rissanen, K., Yenesew, A. Erdélyi, M. (2016). Naphthalene derivatives from the Roots of Pentas parvifolia and Pentas bussei. Journal of Natural Products, 79, 2181–2187. [Journal Impact Factor = 3.947].

Josphat K Kiunga, Catherine W Lukhoba, Saifuddin F Dossaji, Abiy Yenesew (2016). A survey of traditional medicinal uses of Catha edulis (Celastraceae) in Meru and Eembu counties of Kenya. International Journal of Ethnobiology & Ethnomedicine. 3, 1-12.

Deyou, T., Gumula, I., Pang, F., Gruhonjic, A., Mumo, M., Holleran, J., Duffy, S., Fitzpatrick, P.A., Heydenreich, M., Landberg, G., Derese, S., Avery, V., Rissanen, K., Erdélyi, M., Yenesew, A. (2015). Rotenoids, chalcones and flavanones, from the root bark of Millettia usaramensis subspecies usaramensis. Journal of Natural Products 78 , pp 2932–2939. [Journal Impact Factor = 3.947].

C.N. Muthaura, J.M. Keriko, C Mutai, Abiy Yenesew, J.W. Gathirwa, B.N. Irungu, R Nyangacha, G.M. Mungai, Solomon Derese (2015).  Antiplasmodial potential of traditional phytotherapy of some remedies used in treatment of malaria in Meru-Tharaka Nithi County of Kenya. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 175, 315-323. [Journal Impact Factor = 2.998].

Beatrice N. Irungu, Nicholas Adipo, Jennifer A. Orwa, Francis Kimani, Matthias Heydenreich, Jacob Midiwo, Per Martin Björemark, Mikael Håkansson, Abiy Yenesew, Máté Erdélyi (2015). Antiplasmodial and cytotoxic activities of compounds from Turraea robusta and Turraea nilotica. Journal of Ethnophrmacology. 174, 419-425. [Journal Impact Factor = 2.998].

Muthaura, C.N., Keriko, J.M., Mutai, C., Yenesew, A.,. Gathirwa, W., Irungu, B.N., Nyangacha, RMungai, ., G.M.,. Derese, S. (2015). Antiplasmodial potential of traditional antimalarial phytotherapy remedies used by the Kwale community of the Kenyan coast. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 170, 148-157. [Journal Impact Factor = 2.998].




MSc students research projects in progress

1. Purity Jael Ochieng(Kenyan)

Title: Phytochemical Investigation of Crotalaria incana for Antileishmanial Principles Co-supervisor: Dr. Albert Ndakala.


2. Kamya Vicent (Ugandan)

Title: Phytochemical Investigation of Pentas parvifolia for Leishmanicidal Principles. (In Progress).


3. Ronoh Kipkorir Devin

Title: Phytochemical Investigation ff Solanum incanum  l. (Solanaceae) for Antimicrobial Principles and Formulation of Oral Mouthwash (In Progress).


PhD students in progress

1. Mr Ivan Kiganda (Ugandan)

Title: Phytocheical Investigation of Alstonia species for Anticancer Principles (Writting his proposal.


2. Mr Jackson Matundura Obegi (Kenyan)

Title: Characterization of Antiprotozoal Principles from Suregada zanzibariensis, S.  procera and Terminalia prunioides from Kenya (In progress).


3. Ms Kasima Everlyne (Kenyan)

Title: Use of Molecular Modelling and Experimental Techniques to Probe Structure Activity Relationship (SAR) of Budmunchiamine Structed Analogues as Probable Anti-Malarials (In progress).


4. Ms Chepkirui Carolyne (Kenyan)

Title: Phytochemical investigation of selected plants from the families Moraceae and Fabaceae.