Yobe State Governor’s UK Visit: A Catalyst for BioRTC’s Future

Hon. Maimala Bunu

In a landmark event in October 2023, Yobe State, Nigeria, demonstrated its unwavering commitment to scientific research and healthcare innovation. The strategic visit of His Excellency, Governor Mai Mala Buni, to the United Kingdom, facilitated by Dr. Mahmoud Bukar Maina, founder of BioRTC and Special Adviser on Science Research and Innovation, marked a pivotal moment in the state’s scientific journey. This visit was more than a commitment to global partnerships; it was a decisive step towards transforming BioRTC into a national reference centre for scientific research and healthcare.

Exploring New Horizons at the University of York

The delegation’s first stop was the University of York, renowned for its scientific research and education excellence. The visit was prompted by the University of York’s generous donation of an LSM 780 Confocal Microscope to BioRTC through Dr Maina’s links with Dr Peter O’Toole, the Head of Imaging and Cytometry at the University of York, which also led to the training of Kundi Umar, Abdulrahman Idris Alkhamis, and Zaid Muhammad – all staff members from Yobe State University and affiliates of BioRTC through the Global Bioimaging International Job Shadowing Programme. Governor Buni and his team explored the university’s cutting-edge microscopy facilities and laboratories. These discussions, led by Dr Maina, Dr Babagana Waru (Chief Medical Director, Yobe State University Teaching Hospital) and Dr Kalli Alkali Gazali (Registrar, Yobe State University), opened doors to potential staff and student exchanges, collaborative research projects, and further equipment donations to BioRTC. The visit highlighted the importance of leveraging advanced technology for research and education, setting the stage for future collaborations that promise to revolutionize various scientific fields in Yobe State.

Strengthening Ties with TReND in Africa and the Francis Crick Institute

Next, the delegation visited the Francis Crick Institute, Europe’s largest biomedical laboratory. The purpose of the visit was to acknowledge the donation of the LSM 700 Confocal Microscope made to Dr Maina, which is domiciled in BioRTC, learn how the Crick Institute operates and explore further opportunities for partnerships towards developing BioRTC. His Excellency and his delegation were given a tour of various research stations in the institute and presented with a plaque of appreciation for the visit. There, His Excellency further interacted with the General Coordinator of TReND in Africa – the higher education NGO that promotes scientific research and education in Africa and which has been one of the critical partners in establishing BioRTC. TReND assured their continued support for BioRTC to develop into a national reference centre. 

Forging Strong Collaborations with the University of Sussex

Dr. Maina further facilitated a meeting between His Excellency and experts from the University of Sussex Neuroscience and Open Science Technology, including Dr. Andre Maia Chagas, Prof. Miguel Maraval, and Martin Häuer, the Chairman of Open-Source Ecology Germany. The University of Sussex has demonstrated its commitment to global scientific collaboration and capacity building, as evidenced by the donation of a range of equipment and consumables, along with training Larema Baba Zau, Kundi Umar, Abdulrahman Idris Alkhamis, and Zaid Muhammad – all staff members from Yobe State University and affiliates of BioRTC. Meanwhile, Open-Source Ecology Germany is keen to forge a partnership with BioRTC to build local capacity for manufacturing medical equipment, such as MRI machines, within the region.

The meeting was an opportunity to recognize the University of Sussex’s substantial contributions to BioRTC and explore further collaborative opportunities with them and Open-Source Ecology. These collaborations are expected to enhance the educational and research landscape of Yobe State, particularly in the realm of open science domiciled in BioRTC.

Addressing Health Challenges: Insights from LSHTM and UCL

Dr Maina also facilitated meetings with Prof. Neil Pearce from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Prof. Ben Caplin from the University College London, focusing on the rising issues of kidney disease research in Yobe and Borno states. The meeting focused on the data being collected on kidney disease cases led by Dr Baba Waru in collaboration with BioRTC to understand the rising incidence of kidney diseases in the region. A key aspect of the meeting with His Excellency highlighted the global perspective on kidney diseases, emphasizing the importance of community-based studies and an open approach to research. The visit concluded with His Excellency commending the dedication of BioRTC and its partners in their research endeavours and reaffirming the government’s support for these vital initiatives, underlining their significance in addressing major healthcare challenges in Yobe State.

A Step Towards a Brighter Future

Governor Mai Mala Buni’s visit to the UK was a testament to Yobe State’s dedication to advancing scientific research and addressing critical health issues. These engagements not only highlighted the state’s interest in developing BioRTC into a national reference centre but also set the foundation for future scientific breakthroughs and healthcare improvements.

Stay tuned for more updates as we forge new paths in scientific research and innovation.