CRP grants: making a difference in Africa

CRP Grant awardee, Amos Abolaji, reports on the impact an ICGEB research grant has had in South-West Nigeria and on the advances in research on Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Amos Olalekan Abolaji, University of Ibadan, Nigeria won an ICGEB Collaborative Research Project Grant in 2019. Visiting Trieste this week, he explained how this allowed him to start a project to establish whether resveratrol – a phytochemical found in grapes and other plants – could rescue fly models of Parkinson’s disease.

The ICGEB Grant was a turning point for the laboratory, “allowing the team to widen the scope of research and set up additional facilities for the benefit of the entire region“.

Dr. Amos Olalekan Abolaji, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Visiting ICGEB Headquarters in Trieste, Dr. Abolaji presented a seminar on his research. The Abolaji team has taken advantage of the versatility and genetic toolkit available in Drosophila melanogaster, a genus of flies widely recognised as indispensable for basic research, and has discovered that resveratrol improves survival rates in flies with Parkinson’s disease.

The Group have published their findings in Nature, in a paper that was ranked among the top 100 neuroscience papers in Scientific Reports in 2022. Two more publications are in the pipeline, and three others, that were partially supported by the ICGEB grant, have also been published in the Nature Portfolio.

In addition, states Dr. Abolaji, the ICGEB grant has also made it possible to train two PhD, four MSc and two BSc students on the project, as well as to purchase equipment, resources and consumables which are used by students and researchers at the University of Ibadan and from other Universities in the region. The project also allowed the University to expand its Drosophila laboratory to three labs, all focusing on research related to this genus of flies.

Given Dr. Abolaji’s active work in science communication and outreach in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria, a further collaboration with ICGEB is in the pipeline to train local researchers in assembling and using the Foldscope, a paper microscope making science more accessible to young learners and low-income environments.

ICGEB CRP Grants represent a dedicated source of funding aimed at financing projects addressing original scientific problems of particular relevance for the host country and of regional interest and constitute one of the Organisation’s most popular programmes, enjoying worldwide recognition amongst awardee scientists.