NUC Partners Nigerian Scientists Abroad on Biomedical Research

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By Kuni Tyessi

As the race to find a cure for the deadly COVID-19 continues, the National Universities Commission (NUC) says it is combining efforts with the Nigeria Diaspora Biomedical Research Group (NDBRG) to build the capacity of Nigerian scientists on biomedical research.

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

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

Ramon-Yusuf, who spoke in Abuja, Wednesday, at a briefing ahead of the inaugural summit of the (NDBRG) said the partnership would forge relationships on sabbaticals support and bidirectional faculty exchange between Nigerian academic staff as well as staff of the various collaborative universities abroad, particularly the University of Florida.

He lamented that the Nigerian university system had been battling the problem of research capacity and had, therefore, been exploring different avenues to enable it build capacity both at institutional and professional levels.

“So in this regard this three days 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.

“So the overall objective of this strategic alliance between the Nigerian university system and Nigerians in the Diaspora and in fact including people who are not Nigerians we are trying to harness our network so that we can have an opportunity to train our people in terms of research grant writing, research techniques,” he said.

While speaking on the biomedical research, he said it was even more critical at a time of the COVID 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 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 of course 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.

“Many people know that in our system, over the years, people have been complaining about the inability of many of our researchers to access grants in TETFund on the basis of their inability to write grant-winning proposals. So we hope that at the end of today’s activities we would have succeeded in owning the research grant writing skills of some of our younger academics.

“We hope that at the end of the summit, we would have arrived at some strategies that would lead us to the sustainable approaches we need to leverage on this collaboration and partnership to build both professional and institutional capacity in our system,” he said.