Student's Application

BioRTC Workshop on

Bioimaging, Open Hardware, and Neuroscience Research

Biomedical Science Research and Training Centre (BioRTC), Yobe State University, Nigeria.
18th to 28th of July 2022
Application deadline: 27th of May 2022.

BioRTC is excited to launch a two weeks intensive summer school that will strongly focus on hands-on experiments, especially Bioimaging. Activities will be held Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 8 PM. BioRTC aims to facilitate the research and training of African scientists using state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure that will enable them to contribute to solving local and global biomedical science problems. The Centre has secured support from Wellcome Trust, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Sussex, and TReND in Africa

We will offer 18 positions for students and postdoctoral researchers enrolled at a Nigerian university who work in the area of neuroscience employing in vitro protein biophysics, cell culture, or animal models and who aim to use the equipment available in BioRTC for their research after the summer school. The students will have free access to the equipment at BioRTC. However, we expect the students to cover the cost of consumables that are required for their research after this workshop through their institutional research grants or other local grants. In addition, we will offer 6 positions for students and postdoctoral researchers who work in the area of engineering, computer sciences, or biosciences who want to learn how to build scientific equipment using open hardware approaches. We encourage applicants to look up the principal investigators of BioRTC about ongoing projects in case they may be of interest beyond the summer school.

The application is divided into two parts: a questionnaire and an interview. We will only accept students that are already enrolled in MSc, Ph.D., or undertaking postdoctoral research and have the support of their supervisor. Selected students will have their transportation and accommodations covered for the entire workshop.

The applicants must justify in their application how they will remain in BioRTC to undertake aspects of their ongoing research after the workshop. For example, this could be an agreement from their supervisor to carry out a part of the project at BioRTC, their project plans, and the list of equipment to use at BioRTC (see our list of available tools). 

  • MSc students can have access to the BioRTC lab for up 6 months
  • Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers can have access to the BioRTC lab for up to one year.

Workshop Overview

Available workshop projects

Students are invited to choose from the following projects and rank them according to their preference on their application. 

Introduction to fluorescence microscope for neuroanatomical studies
Investigating neuronal morphology and synaptic connectivity is essential for understanding the function of the nervous system. To this end, you will first learn the basic techniques to prepare biological samples for immunostaining and dye tracing. You will further gain experience in imaging the prepared samples using fluorescent microscopes. By the end of the course, you will gain knowledge about the principles of the techniques through the lectures in a classroom as well as in the hands-on practical course.

Optical methods for behavioural neuroscience research in Drosophila
This workshop will include both theoretical lectures and hands-on practicals in neuroscience, with a focus on neurogenetics, neurophysiology, and neurobehavioral assays using Drosophila as an animal model. We will use open-source hardware and software to record and analyze imaging and behavioral data. In addition, we will employ optogenetics to demonstrate how to identify the functions of a group of neurons within a complex network. These techniques allow us to better understand the connection between genes, neurons, and behavioral outputs in complex organisms.

Studying in-vitro assembly and cellular effects of amyloidogenic proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases
A major hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases is the pathological self-assembly of proteins into highly ordered amyloid fibrils, which are associated with neuronal death and cognitive dysfunction. We can investigate the self-assembly of these proteins, such as tau, amyloid-beta and alpha-synuclein, in-vitro to further understand the mechanism of aggregation and how different conditions (e.g. pH, reducing conditions, temperature) can affect aggregation. Different techniques can be used to follow the aggregation of these proteins, which include amyloid-specific fluorescent dyes, SDS-PAGE electrophoresis, western blotting, and dot blotting. In addition, we can treat cellular models with these protein aggregates to investigate their effect on cell viability. Human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells are commonly used to study neurodegenerative diseases and can be differentiated into a more neuronal-type cell model using retinoic acid and BDNF. Furthermore, confocal microscopy can be used to investigate the internalization and localization of self-assembled amyloid proteins tagged with fluorescent labels within organelles (lysosomes).

Open Labware: Building your own research tools with open source and 3D printing
Prior knowledge required: None, but previous experience with computers and repairing things is a plus. Without tools, there is no science. Reagents, computers, and especially research equipment are paramount to the collection of data that allows us to see nature in its finest details. During the workshop we will build selected equipment, using open source technologies. 

This will serve as an intro to the Open Science world and will empower participants with the knowledge needed to create their own solutions for research needs at their home institutions. More details on this approach can be seen here and here. Participants will leave the project with:

  • A general understanding of how 3D printers work and how to design parts for them.
  • How to put together electronic circuits to create scientific equipment
  • How to leverage open source knowledge to develop their own tools.

Teaching Faculty

  • Mahmoud Bukar Maina, School of Life Sciences, Uni. of Sussex, UK/BioRTC, Yobe State. Uni., Nigeria
  • Mohammed Musa Lawan, BioRTC/Department of Chemistry, Yobe State. Uni., Nigeria
  • Yunusa M. Garba, Uni. of British Columbia, Canada/Gombe State Uni., Nigeria
  • Royhaan Folarin, Department of Anatomy, Olabisi Onabanjo Univ., Nigeria
  • Takeshi Yoshimatsu, School of Life Sciences, Uni. of Sussex, UK
  • Andre Maia Chagas, School of Life Sciences, Uni. of Sussex, UK
  • Jonathan Menzies, School of Life Sciences, Uni. of Sussex, UK
  • Abdul-Raouf Issa, School of Life Sciences, Uni. of Sussex, UK
  • Sebastian Oakley, School of Life Sciences, Uni. of Sussex, UK
  • Karen Marshall, School of Life Sciences, Uni. of Sussex, UK
  • Holly Joyce, Crick Institute London, UK


Accommodation: Workshop participants will have the cost of shared hotel accommodation and meals covered during the workshop duration from 18th to 28th of July 2022. For the research period after the workshop, they will have to fund accommodation and meals by themselves.

Transportation: The workshop will cover participants’ travel expenses to Yobe State and the daily shuttle between BioRTC and accommodations.