Dr. Lawrence Banks with Dr. Muganga Didas Kayihura - Vice Chancellor - University of Rwanda

Latest Missions take in Rwanda, Libya, and Nigeria

ICGEB Management and Principal Investigators have recently carried out missions to Member States to enhance collaboration and further customise the Organisations actions to address national priorities.

Dr. Lawrence Banks, ICGEB DG, and Dr. Maria Luisa Fichera, Chief, Legal & Administration, were in Rwanda to promote awareness and collaboration on ICGEB programmes and research within Rwandan institutions between 28 February and 1 March 2024.

Hosted by Dr. Mike Hughes, ICGEB Governor for Rwanda and Dr. Dieudonne Mutangana, ICGEB Liaison Officer for Rwanda, they attended meetings with various institutes to further cooperation, and encouraging applications to the three core activities of ICGEB – Fellowship applications, requests for support for Meetings and Courses, and applications for Research Grants. Discussions also focused on identifying major areas of scientific collaboration where ICGEB’s expertise could promote the 2050 Agenda of scientific development within Rwanda.

Visiting the University of Rwanda, Dr. Lawrence Banks met with the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Muganga Didas Kayihura and colleagues, with Dr. Banks addressing the students enrolled in a new MSc. programme in Biotechnology. A Memorandum of Understanding to initiate expansion of collaboration was completed and signed in the presence of the Honourable Minister for Education.

Dr. Banks toured the laboratory facilities and the location of a Biotech Incubator which will be developed on the campus. He is penned to become honorary Professor also to provide some lectures on cancer and oncogenic viruses, and other PIs in ICGEB could be available to take part in similar activities depending on the specific needs of the University. 

Through an Awareness Workshop given by Dr. Banks, MSc students have been encouraged to consider applying to ICGEB fellowship opportunities. University faculty were keen to apply for support for hosting meetings and courses:  topics of interest included bioinformatics, genome editing and disease surveillance, possibly working with other stakeholders in Rwanda in the planning of these events. 

On 29 February, the delegation visited the Rwandan Forensic Institute, where work on disease sureveillance and threat detection were discussed, in line with work being done at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), and the Rwandan Food and Drug Authority.

The focus of future development is likely to be in enhancing bioexperimentation facilities, microscopy capabilities, and omics platforms, “essential for making R&D competitive internationally”, states Dr. Banks.

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Dr. Emanuele Buratti, Head of the Molecular Pathology laboratory, was in Libya in late February to present a keynote lecture at the 7th Biotechnology Conference hosted by the Libyan Biotechnology Research Center BTRC.
In a true expression of science diplomacy, the occasion provided the opportunity to meet with H.E. Ambassador Gianluca Alberini, Ambassador of Italy in Libya, Member State of the ICGEB since 2008.

Efforts to strengthen Member State collaborations by ICGEB include visits to the ICGEB Governors, Liaison Officers and to the embassies of the ICGEB Member Countries by Principal Investigators. Another recent example is the visit by Dr. Shams Yazdanim, from ICGEB New Delhi, to Nigeria (link to the full report).