The MRC Unit The Gambia’s main operational base is in Fajara. It has been in existence for almost 70 years and is approximately 9 miles down the coast from the capital Banjul. The 100 acre site in Fajara has over 40 residential units and its home to the main administrative infrastructural and technical support departments including Information Technology, Facilities, Biomedical Engineering, Procurement, Logistics, Transport Services, Human Resources, Finance and Health, Safety & Environment departments. These services provided by the operations team underpins the diversity of high quality scientific endeavours while establishing more effective cross cover of specialized expertise to drive improvements and operational efficiency.
The Clinical Services Department in Fajara runs an extremely busy 42-bed ward which provides in-patient care for both research and non-research cases admitted through the OPD/Gate clinic. It also serves as a referral centre for patients from MRCG field stations, other hospitals, clinics and health centres. The clinic has long been recognised nationally and internationally for the excellent and cost-effective health care it provides to Gambian and other nationalities that are residents of The Gambia and from neighbouring Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau.
The Unit has a strong record of training Gambians and other West African staff from basic to post‐doctoral levels, to identify and develop the talents of tomorrow’s scientists to foster ground breaking research. The excellent laboratory facilities in Fajara comprises of the Research Platform Labs (RPL), Clinical lab, TB, Malaria, Microbiology labs and the Clinical Laboratories. Activities supported in the various laboratories span from basic research in immunology, microbiology, virology and molecular biology to large epidemiological studies, intervention trials and routine clinical diagnosis.
The Himsworth Laboratory is home of the World Health Organisation Regional Reference Laboratory (WHO RRL). Its mandate is to provide diagnostic services to support the surveillance network for Invasive Bacterial Vaccine-Preventable Diseases (IB-VPD) in the WHO African Region (AFRO). Our laboratories have consistently maintained Good Clinical Laboratory Practice (GCLP) accreditation since 2010. A key event for the Laboratory Services Department was the attainment of ISO 15189:2012 accreditation for the Routine Diagnostic Laboratories comprising the Clinical, Serology and Tuberculosis (TB) Diagnostics Laboratories, in 2012.
The DNA bank, recognised by the World Health Organisation as the first biobank in Africa, is a major infrastructure for health research and serves as a repository of human DNA samples to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases but focusing primarily on malaria, HIV and tuberculosis. With the broad aim of supporting studies on the genetics of complex diseases, the DNA bank in Fajara is set to expand its current repository of approximately 50,000 DNA samples and associated data. Its operations are regulated by the provisions of the Gambia Ethics Committee for sample collection, archiving, data storage and privacy protection.