About the Summit
In April 2017, our Foundation held the first African Diaspora Biotech Summit in Cambridge University. The Summit brought together more than 70 students, researchers and early/mid-career life science and biotech professionals (including research scientists, entrepreneurs, policy experts, and bio-industry leaders) from Africa and the diaspora to discuss the current state of Africa’s biotech industry. The Summit created a unique platform for Africa’s future leaders and key stakeholders, especially those in the diaspora, to better understand the challenges and opportunities in Africa’s biotech and life science sector, and how they may be involved in finding practical solutions that will help build the continent’s bioeconomy.
KEY OBJECTIVES OF THE SUMMIT;
- To create a unique platform for Africa’s next generation of biotech/life science professionals and bio-industry leaders to connect with, learn from one another, and establish collaborative relationships that will accelerate the growth of Africa’s biotech/life science industry and the bioeconomy.
- To address the challenges and opportunities in Africa’s biotech/life science industry, and inspire the African diaspora to become more involved in finding practical solutions to the problems hampering bioscience education, capacity building, research innovation and commercialization in the continent.
- To encourage Africa’s present leaders and key stakeholders to invest in building a competitive African biotech and life science sector so as to grow the bioeconomy, and create opportunities for employment, investment and sustained socio-economic growth.
The Summit included panel-led discussions and keynote addresses, which set the stage for discussions about the urgent need to strengthen biotech and bioscience education, training and capacity building; research innovation, and biotech commercialization in Africa.
FOUR MAJOR AREAS WERE DISCUSSED AT THE SUMMIT;
We are pleased to announce the successful completion of our Molecular Laboratory Training Workshop held in partnership with the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge from 27th March to 4th April 2017. The Molecular Laboratory Training Workshop is a flagship initiative of JR Biotek Foundation, developed to train, inspire and empower a new generation of agricultural research scientists and academics who can contribute to Africa’s development through agricultural research and innovation.
The training workshop included lectures and hands-on laboratory training sessions covering a broad aspect of molecular plant virology and pathology, molecular plant breeding and plant genetics, arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis, etc. The laboratory practical provided knowledge and practical experience in the following areas;
Basic molecular techniques, e.g. the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), quantitative real-time-PCR, ELISA, extraction of genomic material from plant tissues, molecular cloning strategies, etc.
Molecular characterization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in plant roots (using rice and maize as the model crop)
Molecular detection of plant viruses (using tobacco as the model plant)
Marker Trait Association experiment (using pepper as the model crop)
Confocal microscopy of Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA)-stained intracellular fungal structures in fungal colonized rice roots
Principal Investigators, post-doctoral research associates and other research experts from the University of Cambridge, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia, University of Aberdeen, Rothamsted Research UK and the John Innes Centre, UK taught the workshop. We also provided a professional development and science leadership training course to the workshop participants. Overall, the Molecular Laboratory Training Workshop presented an excellent opportunity for the workshop attendees from Africa to meet, co