NUC, Nigerian scientists abroad partner on biomedical research

Amid global efforts to find a cure for the deadly coronavirus, the National Universities Commission (NUC) aligning efforts with the Nigeria Diaspora Biomedical Research Group to increase the capacity of Nigerian scientists in biomedical research.

The partnership, which is being facilitated by a Nigerian scientist at the University of Florida, United States, Prof. Folakemi Odedina, is also aimed at training the researchers on grant-writing proposals to be able to access funds at the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and other research-funding agencies globally.

The Deputy Executive Secretary of NUC, Dr. Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, said the partnership was one of the numerous efforts by the commission to explore opportunities through collaborations within and outside Nigeria to build the capacity of Nigerian scientists in research.

Ramon-Yusuf, who spoke in Abuja at a press briefing ahead of the inaugural summit of the Nigeria Diaspora Biomedical Research Group, said the partnership would forge relationships on sabbaticals support and bidirectional faculty exchange between Nigerian academic staff and staff of the various collaborative universities abroad, particularly the University of Florida.

According to him, the Nigerian university system has been battling the problem of research capacity and has, therefore, been exploring different avenues to enable it to build competence both at institutional and professional levels.

“In this regard, the three-day summit has three main components; the first one which is ongoing as we speak is the pre-summit biomedical research training workshop. Research capacity is quite low in our system, just as we have challenges with research infrastructure.”

On the biomedical research, he said it was even more critical at a time of the COVIDss-19 pandemic “because all over the world, scientists are working round the clock in an attempt to find a solution by way of a vaccine for the SARS cov2 which is popularly called the COVID-19 virus.”

On the virtual summit held by the Diaspora Biomedical Group, Ramon-Yusuf said the objectives were to develop expertise, infrastructural support as well as the opportunity for sabbatical leaves and collaborative research for the country’s academics.

“We also intend through this collaboration to create multiple opportunities for collaborative research among Nigerian academics and Nigerians as well as non-Nigerians in Diaspora that would lead to both intramural and extramural research wards.

“Another objective is to augment the existing biomedical research training programmes which will foster career development amongst young academics. Today’s activities revolve around grant writing capacity building.”

He noted that over the years, people have complained about the inability of many local researchers to access grants in TETFund because of their inability to write grant-winning proposals. “So, we hope that at the end of the activities, we would have succeeded in owning the research grant writing skills of some of our younger academics.”

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