The first Biomedical Science Research and Training Centre (BioRTC) Summer School has started this week! After months of planning, organising, and shipping, we are finally at Yobe State University, BioRTC’s home (the university was established in 2006 and home to over 12000 undergraduate and graduate students).
The school focuses on bioimaging, open hardware and Neuroscience research. Using state-of-the-art equipment, participants will get training on cutting-edge technologies and techniques to conduct part of their research projects in BioRTC. Sponsored by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Company of Biologists, Trend in Africa and Yobe State University, the school is the first of many, all aiming at building capacity and strengthening research networks in Nigeria (Photo impressions can be found here).
Coming from 5 different countries, the 8 faculty members arrived 3 days before the course started and lost no time in setting up the lab. At different career stages (from PI’s to PhD candidates), they transferred cell cultures, prepared solutions, calibrated and mended equipment, getting the first glimpse of the university, the lab, and the very welcoming local support team working very hard to make sure everything in their journey runs smoothly. By the end of the third day, a great feeling settled in as everything started to materialise, and so many online acquaintances met in person for the first time.
As the first week of the workshop unravels, faculty and participants work together to share skills and learn from each other. The group of participants coming from 11 universities in Nigeria, composed of graduate students and researchers at all career levels, was selected from more than 70 applicants. The first phase of the summer school was an intensive introduction to Open Science and Open Source. Andre, Adam Saleh, Adam Gaidam (faculty members of Yobe’s Computer Science department), Umar (faculty at Bauchi State University Gadau) and Royhaan (faculty at Olabisi Onabanjo University) introduced concepts on 3D printing, 3D design as well as Python programming for data analysis. In the second phase of the summer school, participants dived deep into lab work. Karen and Seb are covering in-vitro biochemistry of neurodegeneration, Raouf and Rashida are covering optical methods for behavioural neuroscience using Drosophila as an animal model and Takeshi and Aki are covering fluorescence microscopy for neuroanatomical studies.
After receiving this intensive training, and setting this summer school apart, participants will have access to BioRTC’s infrastructure to conduct experiments that will move their own research ideas forward. Another highlight of the school is that the local faculty, technical and graduate student participants are having the time and space to master all the techniques being shared and the functioning of all equipment at the lab. This will ensure BioRTC and all its visitors will always have the best possible infrastructure and local knowledge to train and empower more researchers.
Murtala Isah Bindawa, Kundi Umar and Abdulrahman Alkhamis, who are BioRTC’s local staff are being trained to ensure the sustainability of the centre and at the same time sharing their skills with the participants who came for the summer school.