Researcher Profiles

Comprehensive Database of all UZ leading Research and Innovation endeavors

Dr. Farisai Chidzwondo


BSc Honours in Biochemistry (University of Zimbabwe), 1992. MSc in Biotechnology (University of Zimbabwe), 1993-1994. DPhil in Science (University of Zimbabwe), 2006.

Academic Appointments:

Senior Lecturer

Research Interests:

Development of Tools for the Detection of Co-Infections
I have to date contributed to the development of immunochemical reagents for the detection of antibodies to pathogens in elephants and rhinos and am conversant with skills in molecular biology, especially gene expression and control of regulatory pathways. My passion is to contribute to the long-term health security of the African continent by developing point-of-care immunodiagnostic tools and vaccines for human diseases that are endemic on the continent. Africa has lagged behind on the development of suitable diagnostic medical devices, vaccine research, deployment, development and innovation activities such as multiplex detection of infectious agents. Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of neglected tropical diseases, often complicated by co-infections, has led to high mortalities and morbidities. With the current promotion of multiplex detection of infectious agents by the NIHR Unit for Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA), as TIBA Zimbabwe, we are working on the development of multiplex devices for use in surveillance, diagnosis and control of infections in Zimbabwe. In rural settings, non-invasive methods of obtaining a specimen are preferred, making the use of urine desirable over a serum sample. These non-invasive methods have high patient acceptance, increased safety and reduced cost. However, for different specimens to be used interchangeably, there must be a significant positive correlation between the two when they are used for the detection of a specific analyte. I intend to contribute to the enhancement of capacity to respond to infectious diseases in developing countries.

Development of Under-utilised Natural Resources
The increasing demand for food and feed requires the exploitation of alternative sources. Preliminary data shows that the legume Mucuna pruriens has potential as a coffee substitute, feed and food. This bean, which exists as two varieties, was introduced into Zimbabwe but is thriving in the wild. Maize, an introduced cereal and staple food in Zimbabwe, has failed to adapt to poor soil fertility, drought and high temperatures. Cowpea, a legume which thrives in such environments, has been abandoned in preference to value-chain legumes such as soybean and sugar bean. Together with colleagues in Crop Science, we intend to explore ways in which the use of this legume can be maximized. In addition, we intend to investigate the potential of other under-utilised crops and the yellow mealworm beetle Tenebrio molitor as an alternative source of protein for livestock feed. The potential of reproductive technologies in smallholder livestock populations is also being investigated in collaboration with colleagues from Chinhoyi University of Technology.

Faculty: Science
Department: Biotechnology and Biochemistry
Research Category: Bioscience

July 2000 to Present Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Zimbabwe, teaching and supervising research in biochemistry, immunology and molecular biology; medical, pharmacy, nursing science and biochemistry undergraduate students and post-graduate students. Tenured as of 27 July 2003 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in January 2014.

August 2012-February 2013 Visiting Lecturer at Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe, teaching Biochemistry and Introduction to Microbiology to Animal Production and Technology students and Analytical Biochemistry to Biotechnology students.

August-October 2007 Visiting Lecturer at the Bindura University of Science and Education, Zimbabwe, teaching Immunology and Virology to BSc Biological students.

October 2007-February 2008 Quality Assurance Officer at Horizon Chemicals Pvt. Ltd, a private company producing industrial and domestic cleaning products.

September 2006 Workshop Facilitator, SADC Stakeholders Workshop on Testing for Genetically Modified Organisms.

April 1995–July 2000 Teaching Assistant in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Zimbabwe.

March 1999 Workshop Facilitator, Lecturing on Southern and Northern Blotting at the Biomedical Research and Training Institute: “African International Course on Serological Diagnostic Techniques.”

February-March 1995 Research Assistant to Dr J.S. Read, Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, working on the isolation of DNA from mukwa seeds.

February-March 1992, January - March 1993 Research Assistant to Dr H. Cadman, Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, working on the development of immunochemical reagents for the detection of rhinoceros and elephant antibodies.

Phone: +263 242 303211

1. Gororo, E., Chatiza, F. P., Chidzwondo, F., and Makuza, S. M. (2021). ‘Is neutral genetic diversity related to quantitative variation in semen traits in bulls?’ Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 00, 1–9.

2. Masekesa, R.T., Gasura, E., Kujeke, G.T., Ngadze, E. and Chidzwondo, F. (2021). ‘Induction of Somatic Embryogenesis and Organogenesis in Zimbabwean Sweet Potato (cv Brondal)’ Hindawi Advances in Agriculture, Volume 2021, Article ID 9976800, 8 pages 22 May 2021

3. Gororo, E. Makuza, S.M., Chidzwondo, F. and Chatiza, F.P. (2020) ‘Variation in sperm cryosurvival is not modified by replacing the cryoprotectant glycerol with ethylene glycol in bulls.’ DOI: 10.1111/rda.13766. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, Wiley.
4. Gororo, E., Makuza, S. M., Chatiza, F. P. Chidzwondo, F. and Sanyika T. W. (2018) ‘Genetic diversity in Zimbabwean Sanga cattle breeds using microsatellite markers.’ South African Journal of Animal Science, 48 (No. 1), 2018, pp 128-141.
5. Gororo, E., Makuza, S.M., Chatiza, F.P., Gwatibaya, S., Gahadzikwa, P. and Chidzwondo, F. (2017) ‘The potential of reproductive technologies in breeding smallholder cattle populations in Zimbabwe.’ International Journal of Livestock Production Vol. 8 (10), pp. 168-179.
6. Mhuka, C., Chatiza, F.P., Chidzwondo, F., Sithole-Niang, I., Makuza, S. and Mlambo, S.S. (2016/2017) ‘Use of RAPD-PCR for breed/genotype identification in Zimbabwean cattle.’ Journal of Cellular Biotechnology 2, 131-137.
7. Masekesa, T.R., Gasura, E., Ngadze, E., Icishahayo, D., Kujeke, G.T., Chidzwondo, F. and Robertson, A. (2016). ‘Efficacy of zeatin, kinetin and thidiazuron in induction of adventitious root and shoot from petiole explants of sweetpotato cv Brondal.’ South African Journal of Botany 104, 1-5.
8. Masekesa, T.R., Gasura, E., Matikiti, A., Kujeke, G.T., Ngadze, E., Icishahayo, D., Chidzwondo, F. and Robertson, A.I. (2016). ‘Effect of BAP, NAA and GA3, either alone or in combination, on meristem culture and plantlet establishment in sweetpotato (cv Brondal).’ African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development 16(1), 10649-10665.
9. Sigauke M., Chidzwondo F., Nyanga, L., Zvidzai C.J., Muzaka, A., Mushipe, S. and Chidewe, C. (2013). ‘Effects of processing methods on antinutrient composition of seeds from a wild legume Bauhinia petersiana.’ Asian Journal of Science and Technology 4(4), 12-16.
10. Mwandiringana E., Gori E, Nyengerai T. and Chidzwondo F. (2012). Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection of mixed trypanosome infection and blood meal origin in field-captured tsetse flies from Zambia. African Journal of Biotechnology11(29), 14490-14497.
11. Chidzwondo, F., De Greve, H., Van Driessche, E., Sithole-Niang, I., Read, J. and Beeckmans, S. (2011). Expression of the cDNA Encoding the Pterocarpus angolensis (mukwa) Seed Lectin in Escherichia coli. Journal of Applied Sciences in Southern Africa 17 (1), 1-16.
12. Chidziya E., Dhlamini, Z., Chidzwondo, F. and Sithole-Niang, I (2011). Adoption and Development of DNA Fingerprinting Methods for Zimbabwean Cattle. Journal of Applied Sciences in Southern Africa 17 (1), 51-67.
13. Zvidzai, C., Muzhinji, N., Chidzwondo, F., Mundembe R. and Sithole-Niang, I. (2007). Potential commercialization of a microbial medium formulated from industrial food waste. African Journal of Microbiology Research 1 (6), 079-087.
14. Marondedze, C., Chidzwondo, F., Sithole-Niang, I. and Read, J.S. (2006). Biochemical and molecular characterisation of the seed lectin found in Pterocarpus rotundifolius. Journal of Applied Science in Southern Africa, 12 (1), 35-49.
15. Chidzwondo, F., Dietrich, A. and Sithole-Niang, I. (2000). Mae 1 assay for scoring atrazine resistance is codon-usage dependent in legumes. Journal of Applied Science in Southern Africa, 6(1), 17-23.
16. Mukorah, F., Razunguzwa, B. and Masola B. (1998.) Stabilization of rat liver mitochondrial alanine aminotransferase with ethanol and trehalose. Cryobiology, 37 (4), 30-308.

Submission of Gene Sequences
1. Marondedze, C., Chidzwondo, F., Sithole-Niang, I and Read, J.S. (2004). Pterocarpus rotundifolius lectin cDNA sequence - Direct Submission. Genbank Accession Number AY639659.
2. Mukorah, F., Dietrich, A. and Sithole-Niang, I. (1995). Vignia unguiculata chloroplast DNA psbA gene sequence - Direct Submission. EMBL Accession Number X80932.

Patented Work:

Grants & Funding (current and Past projects):

1. University of Zimbabwe, Faculty of Science Nutrition and Dietetics Research Cluster ‘Development and Production of a Beverage Derived from a Legume Indigenous to Zimbabwe: Mucuna pruriеns Sееd Coffee Substitute.’ 2021
2. University of Zimbabwe Faculty of Science Natural Science and Products Cluster 2021 ‘Tenebrio molitor: An alternative source of protein for livestock feed’ 2021
3. University of Zimbabwe Research Board Grant Vote 91053 “Regenerative Medicine: Innovative Attempt to Treat Burn Wounds in Zimbabwean Children.” 2015.
4. Collaborative project with Dr F. Chatiza, submitted to and funded by Chinhoyi University of Technology Research Board “Identification and Evaluation of Sperm Quality Variations in Cattle Breed within Small holder and Commercial Farmer Community within Mashonaland West province.” 2013.
5. University of Zimbabwe Research Board Grant Vote 3YSC10/0016 “Purification and Characterisation of the Pterocarpus rotundifolius lectin.” 2005.
6. University of Zimbabwe Research Board Grant Vote 3YYH10/4033 “Purification and Characterisation of Mukwa Mutant Lectins.” 2003.

Awards & Achievements:

1. Out-of-Africa Post-Doctoral Fellowship awarded by the NIHR Unit for Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA), University of Edinburgh, UK. ‘Understanding and application of bioinformatics, molecular and immunological techniques in diseases surveillance, diagnosis and control in Zimbabwe.’ May-August 2019.
2. Short-term Research Visit awarded by AAS-TWAS-ROSSA, “Recent Techniques in Stem Cell and Cancer Biology”, National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, India. 5-23 January 2015.
3. In 2013 and 2016 was nominated as one of the young scientists to coordinate cell biology and regenerative medicine activities in Southern Africa at an African Academy of Sciences supported workshop.
4. As a DPhil student, demonstrated that the specificity loop is not the sole determinant of sugar specificity in legume lectins using site-directed mutagenesis followed by expression of the mutants.
5. As a MSc student, in collaboration with Prof I. Sithole-Niang, demonstrated that contrary to conventional knowledge at the time, an assay that was assumed to be universal was actually codon-usage dependent. Based on this work, a paper was published refuting this claim; “Mae 1 assay for scoring atrazine resistance is codon-usage dependent in legumes.” Chidzwondo, F., Dietrich, A. and Sithole-Niang, I. (2000). Journal of Applied Science in Southern Africa, 6(1), 17-23.
6. As an undergraduate student in collaboration with Dr H. Cadman, developed immunochemical reagents to assay for pathogens that cause Q-fever and theleria in elephants and rhinoceros destined for export markets, as there were no commercial diagnostics at that time.
7. Awarded a University of Zimbabwe Book Prize for being one of the best students in the Master of Science in Biotechnology Part I and Part II Coursework and Examination in 1993 and 1994 respectively.
8. Awarded First Prize for a presentation on development of immunochemical reagents for detection of rhino and elephant diseases at the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Society of Zimbabwe (BMBSZ) in 1992.
9. Long Service Award (10 years) 2011 University of Zimbabwe.
10. Long Service Award (15 years) 2016 University of Zimbabwe.

Consultancy and advisory work (current and past):

Supervision information (MPhil, DPhil, etc.):

Post-Graduate Student Supervision and Co-supervision

1. Theresa Chimponda, DPhil in Science: ‘Markers of Inflammation, Morbidity and Mechanisms Mediating Resistance against Schistosoma haematobium Infection in Preschool Age Children (Children Aged Five Years and Below)’ Biotechnology and Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2018-2021.

2. Thomas Marangwana, MSc in Biotechnology: “Extraction and quantitative analysis of L-Dopa from Mucuna pruriens for clinical applications.” Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2019.
3. Caroline Chasara, MSc in Biotechnology: “Characterisation of grass pollen allergens.” Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2018.
4. Lorraine Pfavayi, MSc in Biotechnology: “Characterisation of allergic immune response to Gonimbrasia belina.” Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2018.
5. Eddington Gororo, MPhil in Science: “Molecular and genetic diversity of cattle breeds in Zimbabwe.” Animal Production and Technology Department, Chinhoyi University of Technology, 2014-2018.
6. Tafadzwa Masekesa, DPhil in Science: “Developing sweet potato (cv Brondal) that is resistant to sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV-Z) using the coat protein and the RNA interference methods.” Crop Science Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2013-2015.
7. Theresa Chimponda, MPhil in Science: “Metabolism of alkylating anticancer compounds and modulations of glutathione S-transferase inhibitors.” Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2012-2015.
8. Elaine Chirisa, MPhil in Science: In vitro evaluation of potential prostaglandin synthases inhibitors from selected Zimbabwean medicinal plant extracts.” Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2012-2015.
9. Paul Noah, MPhil in Science: “Diverse antigen-specific antibody and atopic responses in schistosomiasis and malaria co-infected individuals.” Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2014-2015.
10. Jetwell Mugabe, MPhil in Science: “Development of DNA constructs for the production of insulin in tobacco.” Crop Science Department, University of Zimbabwe, 2012-2015.

Professional membership, Committees, Boards:

1. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Society of Zimbabwe (BMBSZ). Secretary, August 2010-July 2012, President, August 2012-December 2020, Committee Member December 2020 - Present.
2. African Scientific Institute (ASI) Fellow, August 2019 - Present

External Profile Links (Google Scholar, ResearchGate, LinkedIn, other social media links):


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