Kelly Chibale obtained his PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Cambridge in the UK (1989-1992). This was followed by postdoctoral stints at the University of Liverpool in the UK as a British Ramsay Research Fellow (1992-94) and at the Scripps Research Institute in the USA as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Research Fellow (1994-96).
He was a Sandler Sabbatical Fellow in the US at the University of California San Francisco (2002), a US Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine (2008) and a Visiting Professor at Pfizer in the UK(2008). He has been a full Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT) since 2007, having joined UCT in 1996 as a lecturer. He is a full member of the UCT Institute of Infectious Disease & Molecular Medicine.
In 2008 he was awarded a Tier 1 South Africa Research Chair in Drug Discovery under the South Africa Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and administered through the National Research Foundation. In 2009 he became the founding Director of the Medical Research Council Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit at UCT. In the same year he was elected a fellow of UCT and a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa. In 2010 he became the Founder and Director of the UCT Drug Discovery and Development centre, H3D.