“AUSTERE WARRIORS”

WACCBIP-ASCB-Oxford workshop

Tucked away in a corner of the University of Ghana, away from the fanfare of the metropolis and even from the hustle and bustle of university life is WACCBIP (West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens) and gathered there is a collection of world-class scientists is holding their annual workshop for first year Masters and PhD students.

Usually these workshops run for a fortnight and are under the auspices of WACCBIP but with generous support from and collaboration with many institutions and organizations of repute.

With the modest caption of “boot camp” the first four days will be dedicated to work on malaria. No African needs introduction to this killer disease and so we can only laud the unrelenting efforts being put into the further study and understanding of Malaria with a view to eventually eliminating it. This segment will be led mostly by Friedrich Frischknecht (University of Heidelberg) and Lars Hviid from the University of Copenhagen who will be supported by local researchers. Other participating faculty include:

Emmanuel Amlabu, Univ. of Ghana

Kirk Deitsch, Cornell Medical School

Gordon Awandare, BCMB-Univ. of Ghana

Yaw Aniweh, Univ. of Ghana

Lydia Mosi, BCMB-Univ. of Ghana

Jonathan Adjimani, BCMB-Univ. of Ghana

Theresa Manful Gwira, BCMB-Univ. of Ghana

Nancy Quashie, NMIMR-Univ. of Ghana

Patrick Kobina Arthur, BCMB-Univ. of Ghana

Henrietta Mensah-Brown, Univ. of Ghana

Topics to be treated include:

-Microscopy in Malaria Research

-Biochemistry and Metabolism

-General Immunology

-Genetic Manipulation of Parasites

-Flow Cytometry in Malaria Research

-Malaria Cell Biology I

-Malaria Immunology

-Computational approaches for malaria drug and

Vaccine discovery

-PCR in Malaria Research

-Cell invasion mechanisms of Malaria parasites

-Malaria Cell Biology II and

-Conundrums in Malaria Immunology

The rest of the period will be used to discuss “Protozoan pathogens: the molecular toolkit for analyzing cell biology and parasite functions”. This is a special course on gene manipulation for protozoan parasites and will be jointly conducted by the Keith Gull’s Oxford group with Kirk Deitsch (of ASCB and Cornell University) and Oliver Billker from Sanger Institute.

Other than their remit, what puts this group apart from the ‘usual workshop’ is their choice of venue; their own premises. They even use the balcony for ‘alfresco’ coffee breaks. This is a refreshing departure from the practice of commandeering costly conference centers in 5 star hotels or resorts and feasting rather than working.

One, also, cannot help but notice the absence of suits and high fashion. Some of the participants are clothed in what is sometimes referred to as “smart casual” while the rest are in jeans and khakis with neatly-ironed shirts. The sight is unassuming but the combined might of the participants is not as modest. And these here men and women are gathered to further the course of science all for the betterment of human existence. They are ‘warriors’ gallantly confronting those miniscule organisms called pathogens that have the power to fell even a giant.

One can only applaud WACCBIP and their collaborators for their groundbreaking work and to wish them well in their future exploits.

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Kate Tutu

Social Entrepreneur,Business Consultant, Editor of Feint & Margin, a young woman who's passionate about Africa's people and development.

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