The West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) has hosted the first research methods workshop under the Crick African Network initiative in partnership with The Francis Crick Institute. The two day workshop, organised for early-career African researchers, aimed at building capacity to produce high-quality research study design and proposal development towards improving the management of infectious diseases in Africa.
The Crick African Network Partnership includes four other institutions across the African continent. Its primary purpose is to put in place a fellowship programme to train African researchers to tackle infectious diseases in their home countries. In all, 18 two-year fellowships will be offered to African postdoctoral scientists under the 3-year fellowship scheme. The workshop was the first of a series to be held at each of the partner institutions with the aim of promoting the fellowship scheme and helping potential applicants across the continent to develop strong proposals.
Twenty-two postdoctoral researchers from across Africa participated in the two-day workshop, which connected with experts in various biomedical research fields from the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens and The Francis Crick Institute.
The Director of WACCBIP Prof. Gordon Awandare, welcomed the participants and expressed pride in the Centre’s association with the workshop, particularly as the Centre’s faculty is largely made up of young scientists. Prof. Awandare highlighted the importance of empowering and training scientists by investing resources towards building their capabilities. He further encouraged the participants to make the most of the expertise on offer from both WACCBIP and The Crick Institute to harness the benefits of the partnership beyond the workshop.
Prof. Awandare gives his welcome address
Prof. Robert J Wilkinson, Group Leader at the Crick Institute and Director of the Crick African Network Programme praised WACCBIP for making giant strides in strengthening the capabilities of talented scientists across the West African sub-region and was thankful to the University of Ghana for hosting the first workshop.
Prof. Robert Wilkinson (standing) gives his opening remarks
In his address, the Director of Research at the Office of Research, Innovation & Development (ORID), Prof. George Obeng Adjei , was pleased that WACCBIP and Crick were organising a workshop with the sole purpose of facilitating training in research methods and design. He noted that if research is improved, it will go a long way to help sustain African scientists.
The head of the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (BCMB) at the University of Ghana, Dr. Lydia Mosi, underlined the importance of the training workshop, which she said the Department was proud to be associated with. She welcomed participants and encouraged them to make the most of the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills.
Head of Dept. of BCMB, Dr. Mosi (standing) welcomes facilitators and participants to the department
Dr. Yolande Harley, faculty research manager at the Wellcome Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Africa at the University of Cape Town and facilitator of the workshop, expressed gratitude to the University of Ghana and stated that she was delighted to be present at the workshop. She explained the purpose of the workshop and the importance of the collaborations which the Crick African Network will foster.
Dr. Harley (standing) addresses participants at the pre-workshop symposium
The Director of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Prof. Kwabena Mante Bosompem, underlined the University of Ghana’s objective to leverage research in its quest to make significant contributions to national and sub-regional development. He mentioned that the partnership with WACCBIP has been key to the fulfillment of this objective, where the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research is concerned.
Prof. Bosompem (standing) addresses participants
Prof. Gordon Awandare, in his closing remarks, thanked the facilitators from The Francis Crick Institute for their presence and the participants for attending the conference. He encouraged participants to maintain the networks they had formed over the two-day period. He reiterated WACCBIP’s commitment to the Crick African Network Partnership and was hopeful that postdoctoral researchers at WACCBIP would benefit from the fellowships that the Network would offer.
Following its aim of providing a platform for mentorship and training towards the development of quality research grant proposals, the workshop featured lectures and presentations from seasoned researchers on research methodology and grant writing. Participants were also given the opportunity to present their research proposals for discussion and for direction towards improving them.
There were lectures on statistical considerations in research and graphical presentation of data, studies of pathogenesis in humans, metabolomics, and flow cytometry. Lectures were facilitated by faculty from the Crick Institute, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and the University of Ghana.
Participants work in their research proposal development groups during the breakaway sessions
The Crick’s Dr. Moritz Treeck (left) and WACCBIP’s Dr. Patrick Arthur (right) deliver their lectures