Empowering the Next Generation of Molecular Scientists

Faridah Giwa
Faridah Giwa
July 20, 2020, 4 mins read
Empowering  the Next Generation of Molecular Scientists

It’s been a part of our vision, for as long as we can recall, to build capacity within the country to conduct molecular research and diagnostics. When we talk about molecular science, in layman terms, it is the study of molecules: molecules of humans, animals or plants. In healthcare, however, we look at the study of genes or proteins of the components that regulate the cells and tissues in the human body. Understanding these genes and proteins, how they are regulated and how they are produced in the body gives us insight into better health care treatments, mechanism of action of drugs and information on how best to tackle these diseases.

The benefits of molecular biology are immense: from driving drug discovery to improving diagnostics of certain diseases like sickle cell, cardiovascular diseases, or cancer. As such, having a good pool of molecular scientists within the country that are equipped with knowledge on how to use the right infrastructure and training to carry out molecular research and diagnostics will enable us as a country to better handle our own disease burden. We can proffer solutions to pharmaceutical companies that are more efficacious and advantageous to us as Africans. Simply put, it is the new wave of medicine. Without molecular medicine/biology the advancement in healthcare, drug discovery, in therapeutic interventions would not be possible. 

With the current pandemic, the above rings more true. As we began to set up multiple labs to augment testing for COVID-19 in the country, it became very apparent that there was a void in the skill set required to work in these labs. This reminded us that there is a clear gap in molecular science and biology expertise in Nigeria, that still needed to be filled. While a transfer of knowledge has always been at the forefront for us as a company, it became more crucial with the incidence of the pandemic. We established a molecular science academy and received our first intake of 10 promising scientists on the 24th of June in addition to more than 30 scientists we had already trained in-house to run COVID-19 tests in our mobile labs.

For the duration of 4 weeks, the trainees were taken through comprehensive modules of molecular science taught physically by two of our already trained in-house molecular scientists, Dr Kunle Oluwasemowo, Dr Ife Awogbindin and virtually by our Senior Director, Molecular Genetics and Biobank Operations.

Our trainees on induction day.

From the onset till completion of the program, we have seen tremendous progress and growth in the trainees. Through daily and weekly assessments we were able to track individual growth and now, at the completion of the program, we are proud to say that they are definitely equipped enough to handle any role in molecular science within the country and internationally.

Our trainees on graduation day

It has truly been a humbling experience for us, being able to equip people with skills, certifications and experiences that have made them more employable. Huge congratulations to our first set of 54gene Molecular Training Graduates!

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