Prof. Yankah and Prof. Oduro Owusu commissioning the new building
The West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences has inaugurated its ultra-modern building facility and two advanced scientific equipment. The project which was funded by the World Bank through the Government of Ghana and the Wellcome Trust DELTAS would improve diagnosis, prevention and control of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa by providing advanced training and research into cell and molecular biology of infectious pathogens.
Delivering the key note address, the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah applauded WACCBIP for chartering the path of excellence in the sub-region towards growing and enriching graduate work in specialized areas and for distinguishing itself on the international scene.
Prof. Yankah delivering the keynote speech
Prof. Yankah further congratulated the Vice-Chancellor of the University and the Director of WACCBIP on the timely completion of the project and reiterated government’s commitment to developing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Centres across the country as well as rehabilitating Science Resource Centres to complement the efforts of Science education at the tertiary level. He however appealed to research institutions to properly package their findings and bring them to the attention of policy makers.
Earlier, the Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS), Prof. Daniel Asiedu welcomed guests and gave a brief overview of the College. He congratulated WACCBIP for adding such strategic assets to the College.
“These facilities are vital needs for any College of Science and CBAS is very honoured to host them. While the High Performance Computing (HPC) System would benefit many of the departments including Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering, the Confocal Microscope would be very useful to faculty and students particularly from the departments within the School of Biological Sciences. This new building provides additional lecture rooms, meeting rooms and a conference hall which would be put to good use by the College”, Prof. Asiedu noted.
Prof. Daniel Asiedu, Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences
In his opening remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the University and Chairman for the inauguration extended his profound appreciation to the Minister for honouring the invitation. He noted that one of the vehicles to transforming the University into a world class research-intensive institution is the establishment of Centres of Excellence like WACCBIP. He added that the advent of WACCBIP has significantly increased Masters and PhD enrollment in the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology.
Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice-Chancellor of the University
Prof. Oduro Owusu commended the Director of WACCBIP, Prof. Awandare and his team for their remarkable performance in leveraging the initial funding from the World Bank and doubling the investment by winning competitive international grants such as the Wellcome Trust DELTAS Africa grant. According to him the initiative has tremendously complemented the work of Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research (NMIMR) to enhance research and create a world-class platform for young scientists in the African sub-region.
He lauded the Centre for rejuvenating scientific research among young faculty and students in the University and assured the Centre of Management’s commitment.
“WACCBIP’s community spirit is evidently shown in its decision to install the HPC at the Central University Computing Systems for other units of the University to access. The University is proud of Prof. Awandare and his team for the vision and leadership in establishing the Centre and attracting such high level of funding and international recognition, as well as providing a training hub for young scientists in the sub-region,” Prof. Oduro Owusu noted.
The Vice-Chancellor was hopeful that the University would submit very competitive proposals for the ACE III project in order to create additional Centres of Excellence in other disciplines. The ACE Project, a flagship project of the World Bank is supporting over 40 Universities in 16 African Countries including Ghana, with the aim of promoting specialization among participating universities in areas that address regional challenges and strengthening the capacity of these universities to deliver quality training and apply research.
Prof. Gordon Awandare, gave an overview of the Centre highlighting some achievements made in the areas of faculty and student training, researches into human genetics, host-pathogen interactions, immunogenetics, genomics and innovations for molecular diagnosis and drug development. According to him the Centre has expanded its network beyond West Africa, to include East and Southern Africa and developed a post-doctoral programme for leadership development.
Prof. Awandare, Director of WACCBIP
Prof. Awandare called on government to support students with scholarships, research grants and promptly approve request for reagents to promote research, innovation and development.
Dr. Yaw Aniweh, a Research Fellow and Dr. Saikou Y. Bah, a Postdoctoral Fellow at WACCBIP respectively demonstrated the use and technical capabilities of the Confocal Microscope and the HPC after which Mrs. Dorothea Obiri and Dr. Simon Enem, beneficiaries of the programme, shared their experiences.
Dr. Yaw Aniweh demonstrating the use and capabilities of the Confocal Microscope
The Director of Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), Prof. Abraham Kwabena Anang in his solidarity message emphasized the relevance of building global partnerships as is the focus of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17. According to him, partnership is one vital principle that drives NMIMR and its collaboration with WACCBIP.
“At Noguchi, we understand what partnership is all about as it is a means for any organization to make a headway. We came on board very strongly at the time with the former Director of Noguchi, Prof. Kwadwo Ansah Koram to join WACCBIP in responding to the World Bank’s call for proposals on the establishment of African Centres of Excellence which we won”, Prof. Anang said.
Prof. Anang, Director of NMIMR delivering his solidarity message
Prof. Anang further disclosed the inauguration of a state-of-the-art Research Centre in September 2018 which he noted would comprise laboratory systems that match up to the highest global standards. According to him, they would continue to leverage on the faculty and top scientists for the mutual benefit of both institutions and assured WACCBIP of the Institute’s continuous support.
The World Bank Co-Task Team Leader for the ACE Project, Mrs. Eunice Ackwerh commended WACCBIP and the University of Ghana for effectively implementing the project within the stipulated period. She acknowledged the University of Ghana as the only university to have two (2) Centres of Excellence, WACCBIP and the West African Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI). She also lauded WACCBIP for being the first to gain international accreditation and for its strides in external resource mobilization and training.
Mrs. Eunice Ackwerh, representative from the World Bank
Mrs. Ackwerh called on the University Management and Government to support the African Centres of Excellence in Ghana to increase enrollment of regional students and internships. She also highlighted the World Bank ACE III Project soon to begin.
“The new ACE III impact for development for West and Central Africa is currently under preparation for approval in early 2019. It builds on the lessons from ACE I to further strengthen higher education centres and strongly focuses on development impact. We hope that ACE III will also influence positive changes at the institutional level and will go beyond the selected Centres” Mrs. Ackwerh explained.
After the inauguration by the Minister of State in Charge of Tertiary Education and the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Awandare and his team took the guests on a tour of the new building and its facilities which comprised a multi-purpose conference hall, a PhD lecture room, a board room, a state-of-the-art cold room, store room, Fellows’ Commons and office spaces for the Centre’s Faculty and Administrative staff. The team also toured the bioinformatics and ICT laboratories, which would be directly linked to the Centre’s High-Performance Computing Unit installed.
Guests watching the demonstration and use of newly acquired equipment
Present at the inauguration was the Director of WACCI, Prof. Eric Y. Danquah, the Acting Dean of the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Prof. Robert K. Adaboh, Director of Physical Development and Municipal Services Directorate (PDMSD), Mr. Charles Kofinti, Director of Public Affairs, Mrs. Stella A. Amoa, as well as former and present Faculty and Students of the School of Biological Sciences.
Front View of the newly commisioned building