Engaging Collaborators with MRC Unit The Gambia (MRCG) Festival

The annual festival of medical research, to promote dialogue with the public about the global benefits of MRCG’s scientific research was recently held at the Fajara site. It was an exciting opportunity for our guests to explore our facilities and increase their awareness and understanding of our scientific research. The event, which took place on 14 June 2017, attracted dozens of people to our main site in Fajara. This included representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), British High Commission, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Red Cross, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science & Technology.

Samantha Mccann presenting her research on using novel technologies to assess the effects of nutrition on infant development with Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, Unit Director watching the demonstration along with invited collaborators

Samantha Mccann presenting her research on using novel technologies to assess the effects of nutrition on infant development, with Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, Unit Director watching the demonstration along with invited collaborators

During the event, collaborators were taken on a journey to explore the research of six of MRCG’s Early Career Scientists from our three themes; Vaccines and Immunity, Disease Control and Elimination and Nutrition. At each stand, our scientists presented their research through interactive demonstrations and innovative infographics which were highly commended by all collaborators present.

Interactive demonstrations from our Early Career Scientists during the 2017 MRC Festival

Interactive demonstrations from our Early Career Scientists during the 2017 MRC Festival

In his opening remarks, Prof Umberto D’Alessandro, Unit Director, welcomed the guests and collaborators and thanked them for attending the second festival of Medical Research. He stated that this year’s festival “is an excellent opportunity to explore The Unit’s activities and research projects, through the interactive demonstrations of its young scientists.” He added that “research is an essential component of development. This is evident when considering the decrease in child mortality observed in this country over the last 10 to 20 years which was achieved well before the 2015 deadline.” (Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing child mortality between 1990 and 2015)”.

He continued saying, “this was possible thanks to the work of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare using the interventions evaluated by the MRCG. All of this was facilitated by The Unit’s pioneering work on insecticide-treated bed nets, vaccines against Haemophilus influenzae type b, prenatal dietary supplementation, hepatitis B vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines among other things”.

In his statement, Dr Assan Jaye, Senior Manager, Research Training and Career Development, stated that “MRCG is committed to nurturing talents and capacity development to promote learning and career development. To promote skills and knowledge and most importantly, research and leadership”. He further added that “this will allow talented young scientist to undertake quality research to address health problems in Africa”.

Representing the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science & Technology, Mr James Gomez said, “MRCG has proven time and time again that medical interventions cannot be possible without research.” He further added that “The Government of The Gambia recognises MRCG’s contribution to the global fight against infectious and other childhood illnesses in The Gambia and within the sub-Region.”