Gambian Vice President Inaugurates New MRCG at LSHTM Molecular Biology Laboratory


12 October 2021

On 12th October 2021, the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia Dr. Isatou Touray, officially inaugurated the new Molecular Biology Laboratory Building at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM). Vice President Touray was joined by Professor Liam Smeeth, Director of the LSHTM, to inaugurate the new state-of-the-art facility in Fajara.

Vice President H.E Dr. Isatou Touray, LSHTM Director Prof Liam Smeeth, and MRCG at LSHTM Director Prof Umberto D’Alessandro cut inaugural ribbon | Credit: Alagie Manka/MRCG at LSHTM

In his welcome statement, Professsor Umberto D’ Alessandro, Director of the MRCG at LSHTM, highlighted the significance of the Molecular Biology Laboratory in enhancing the Unit’s vision and strategy. He said, “For almost 75 years, the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM has produced excellent, world-class research whose outputs have considerably shaped health policies in The Gambia, in sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond. Similarly, the Unit has contributed substantially to building research and public health expertise and capacities in The Gambia and in partner institutions across Africa.”

Professor D’Alessandro added that the Unit will continue to investigate and evaluate new interventions and approaches to provide evidence, supporting health policies that will make the world a fairer place where everybody will have the same opportunities to develop their own potential.

Professor Liam Smeeth, the new Director of LSHTM, spoke about the importance of the Molecular Biology Laboratory and the opportunities for collaboration with the LSHTM. “This building will help in providing the essential infrastructure to support the research that provides the policy evidence that’s needed to underpin efforts to improve health. The LSHTM is committed to training and building capacity and expertise, and the partnership that we are building with the Unit provides fantastic opportunities to do that”, he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr Mustapha Bittaye, the Director of Health Services expressed gratitude for the decades-long partnership between the Ministry and the MRCG at LSHTM. He cited the crucial support that the Unit has provided to The Gambia’s COVID-19 response.

“During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, before the National Public Health Laboratories had the capacity for testing, all tests were done by the MRCG at LSHTM. This is an example of true partnership where one partner supports the other in an area where it has a comparative advantage,” he said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the MRCG at LSHTM has worked closely with the Ministry of Health to deliver an effective public health response geared towards curbing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives in The Gambia.

Delivering the inaugural statement, the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Touray congratulated the MRCG at LSHTM for leading scientific research in The Gambia and the sub-region, and for the outstanding partnership with the Ministry of Health.

Vice President H.E Dr Isatou Touray delivers inaugural statement | Credit: Alagie Manka/MRCG at LSHTM

She stated, “The MRCG at LSHTM has worked closely with the Ministry of Health to deliver ground-breaking research and improve health outcomes in the country, in West Africa and beyond. Across the country, the impact of this collaboration is visibly seen in households and communities that continue to benefit from the knowledge, services and support of staff and partners of the MRCG at LSHTM.”

“The inauguration of this new laboratory building will enhance these contributions and support our work as a government. I am convinced that this new facility will further strengthen your research and diagnostics capacity, and complement our work, particularly under the Ministry of Health”, she concluded.

The Molecular Biology Laboratory building provides the facilities for effective molecular biology work, including molecular clinical diagnostics and molecular research.

Importantly, it responds to the Unit’s need for physical spaces that allow for the separation of clinical diagnostics areas from the area where research samples are analysed for surveillance purposes. This ensures the prevention of cross contamination of equipment and materials. These new facilities will, consequently, reduce the pressure on existing laboratory facilities in the Unit.

The building also provides space for some of the Unit’s indispensable support services, including offices and seminar rooms. With these shared spaces, the Unit envisages opportunities for more collaboration among scientists and professional services personnel.