From characterising fevers of unknown origins, to producing and equipping African Pathogen hunters, the Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) at the Redeemer’s University of Nigeria (RUN), Ede, is doing very well as one of the best performing in the country. Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed, who made this submission at the University, in continuation of his tour of the 10 ACEs in Nigeria, commended and congratulated RUN for the Centre’s achievements.
Everywhere Professor Rasheed went, he reminded the Universities that the ACEs were not allocated to them, but earned through very rigorous competitive bidding amongst several top universities across Africa. They should therefore be proud of their achievements and give their total support to the growth and sustenance of the Centres.
Professor Rasheed noted that today’s world was being controlled by two revolutions: The genomics/genetic revolution and the digital revolution. These, he said, were “the most important revolutions redefining the world and the way we do business.” It was, therefore, gratifying, he said, to see ACEGID play a major part in this. He recalled how RUN’s name came to the limelight, due to the important role of rapid diagnosing that the Centre played during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and generating sequence data within 10 days, compared to the usual 6-12 months. He, however, tasked the Centre to do more to utilise the funds at its disposal and improve upon its corporate communications.
The Centre Leader, Prof. Christian Happi, made a presentation on ACEGID’s journey, so far, drawing attention to how genomics was being translated into tools that could impact the world, particularly in disease diagnosis, management and control. He explained that the data generated during the Ebola crisis were submitted to the public database for the international community’s further research that could lead to drugs and vaccine, for control.
Among others, ACEGID was the only African university that participated in the 1000 Human Genome Project, responsible for developing global reference for human genetic variation and the team was part of the 1000 genomes project consortium. The Centre successfully trained students in Foundation and Advanced Genomics, during the annual summer Genomics training programme at Harvard University, which exposed the trainees to state-of-the-technology in Genomics and researchers. The training, fourth in the series, was for young African Scientists from Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia, who are, in turn, training other colleagues in their countries. Trained students and researchers go on to shoot training videos, which are made available, for free, on the ACEGID website, serving as informal means of education for enthusiastic individuals to learn different topics, such as cloning technology, polymerase chain reaction, sequencing, donning and doffing process etc., In addition, the Centre also engages in outreach programmes, where high school students and their teachers are educated and trained on the importance of Genomics at the basic level, in order to stimulate their interest in the field. He thanked the University Management for its support for the Centre’s work. For example, ensuring uninterrupted power supply for the Centre’s rigorous laboratory work.
Professor Rasheed commended Professor Happi for “an excellent and inspiring presentation that answered every question that we might have.” Going back to Abuja more motivated and informed about the Centre’s work, the Executive Secretary said, Professor Happi would be invited to the nation’s capital soon, to make the same presentation to Heads of Departments of Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biological Sciences, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, among others.
Prof, Rasheed receiving a souvenir from the ACEGID Deputy Centre Leader, Dr. Onikepe Folarin. With them is the
Centre Leader, Prof. Christian Happi