The Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, Professor Fiona Watt visited the MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM from the 23rd to 25th April 2019. Professor Watt is also the Director of the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London.
During her visit, which also marked her first time in Africa, Prof. Watt engaged with members of the Leadership Board of the Unit, who shared insights on our operations and research activities. They highlighted the work being done in Disease Control and Elimination, Nutrition, Vaccines and Immunity, and the West Africa Programme.
Prof. Watt was also taken on a tour of the MRCG at LSHTM Fajara campus, with the opportunity for engagements with scientists and support staff in the Laboratories and the Clinical Services Department. A selection of PhD. students also presented elevator talks on their research, highlighting the training opportunities available at the Unit.
For a richer experience, Prof. Watt visited the Keneba Field Station, where she met a cross-section of the staff and students, as well as community members from Keneba and neighbouring villages. She also gained further insights into our research through a series of short presentations, followed by a tour of the site. The field visit ended with a stop in Tankular, where Prof. Watt experienced the work being done by the biobanking team.
“I knew what was happening here from what I have read, but nothing prepared me for the vibrant culture, the exciting research, and particularly the work that is going on in the clinics, and the close interaction with the local communities.I think this is a real triumph of the Unit”, said Prof. Watt.
To cap off the visit, Prof. Watt presented a seminar on ‘Adventures at MRC’ to staff, students and faculty at the Fajara campus. The seminar provided an opportunity for interactions with the larger MRCG at LSHTM community, with opportunities for questions and answers after Prof. Watt’s presentation. In her submission, she spoke about her research, her professional journey as a scientist and leader, the opportunities that exist at the MRC, as well as the changing strategic direction and priorities of the institution.