6 March 2017 Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência

Molecular Biology in Nigeria

Six months on from the preparations and fund raising was the time it took for four scientists from the IGC – the Gulbenkian Institute of Science to stage a practical course in advanced Molecular Biology techniques and set up a specialised laboratory at the University of Bingham, in Nigeria. This initiative, under the auspices of the non-profit organisation TReND in Africa, came to a close in February with the training of 33 participants from different academic levels and backgrounds and working at universities across all of Nigeria.

Ibukun Akinrinade, a Nigerian IGC PhD student, had already participated in a TReND program and proposed to his IGC colleagues, Concetta Valerio, Dora Szakonyi and Colin Adrain, that they take the activities and benefits of these courses to Nigeria. “Our objective was to deepen the theoretical bases and the practical aspects of modern Molecular Biology techniques, providing course participants with all of the material covered in the contents taught so that they could then introduce them to their own universities throughout all of Nigeria”, explained Ibukun Akinrinade. The IGC team also sought to nurture collaborative projects among the participants as well as between them and the course teaching staff.

The results could not have generated more enthusiasm among the scientists. According to Colin Adrain, a lead IGC researcher, “judging from the feedback of participants, the course was a success”. The researcher added that, with the support of EMBO – the European Molecular Biology Organisation, it also proved possible to stage a parallel workshop on Scientific Policy that drew on the participation of the vice-rector of the University of Bingham and the deans of the Faculties of Medicine and Science as well as other leading figures from other government bodies such as the National Biotechnology Development Agency and National Universities Commission.

Concetta Valerio and Dora Szakonyi, IGC post-doc researchers, hold the hope that “the training provided by the course, combined with the donation of equipment and the setting up of a functional laboratory, provides a solid foundation for research, teaching and collaboration in Nigeria”.

This workshop was a TReND run initiative backed by different organisations – The Company of Biologists (COB), The Open Plant Fund, the NeuroMagendie Institute of the University of Bordeaux, and EMBO – and counted upon the success of the crowdfunding put into practice by the course organisers.