Instrumental Access 2021

University of Medical Sciences

Centre for Molecular Bioscience and Medical Genomics

Surveying emerging strains of malaria in Nigeria

  • Students in the Center for Molecular Bioscience and Medical Genomics at the University of Medical Sciences

    Students in the Centre for Molecular Bioscience and Medical Genomics at the University of Medical Sciences

  • Laboratory space at the University of Medical Sciences

    Laboratory space at the University of Medical Sciences

  • University Library at the University of Medical Sciences

    University Library at the University of Medical Sciences

Meet our Awardee

The University of Medical Sciences (Unimed), is the first specialized medical university in Nigeria. Founded in 2015, the university trains students in biomedical and healthcare fields. 
The Centre for Molecular Bioscience and Medical Genomics is focused on applying molecular biology and medical genomics to contemporary health care. The centre supports the diagnosis of infectious and non-communicable diseases, with the aim of reducing their burden in Nigeria. Unimed's Department of Biological Sciences has also received an Instrumental Access award.

Research Areas

The department’s research interests include antimicrobial resistance, malaria, and non-communicable diseases.

PCR techniques are included in the curriculum for microbiology and recombinant DNA technology. Unfortunately, we are limited in our capacity to demonstrate these techniques to the students because of a lack of equipment. Instrumental Access equipment will be essential to addressing this educational gap.”

—Bolajoko Bankole, PhD, Unit Head, Centre for Molecular Biosciences and Medical Genomics

Monitoring an emerging malaria parasite in rural Nigeria: Dr. Bolajoko Bankole 

Bankole Bolajoko Headshot

The effort to eradicate malaria is global. Though malaria is one disease, it is carried by five different pathogens, the most lethal being Plasmodium falciparum.

For a variety of reasons, almost all malaria research focuses on the falciparum pathogen, with many researchers assuming that Plasmodium vivax, another malaria-causing parasite, was not present in sub-Saharan Africa.

This oversight has local implications in Nigeria, as the vivax malaria has now been found in some areas of the country.

Bolajoko Bankole, PhD (right), lecturer at the University of Medical Sciences and unit head in the Centre for Molecular Biosciences and Medical Genomics (CMBMG), is looking to fix this.

As a malaria researcher and experienced disease surveillance expert, she is concerned that not enough has been done to assess her community for instances of vivax malaria infections. The implications, she says, are potentially devastating to the global efforts to rid the world of this deadly disease.

"Although vivax malaria is not as lethal as falciparum malaria in terms of deaths associated with the infection, it is notoriously persistent," says Dr. Bankole. "It can be dormant in the liver only to invade blood cells months or years after the initial infection."

The rationale for vivax malaria detection and surveillance is simple: the best possible treatments come from the most accurate diagnoses. If vivax malaria is found to be present and thriving in Ondo, then Dr. Bankole's team can propose the most precise treatments for that particular parasite.

To move forward with surveillance and treatment of vivax malaria, the CMBMG needs specialized equipment to differentiate between vivax and the more common falciparum parasites.

A shipment of Instrumental Access equipment will help build their capacity for performing such sensitive diagnostic tasks. With increased access to such equipment, Dr. Bankole sees a lot of potential for the fight against malaria in Nigeria.

"I strongly believe that people who are exposed to neglected tropical diseases are well-positioned to study them and help address the health problems they cause," she says. "Instrumental Access equipment will facilitate the training of our young scientists, as well as help reduce costs associated with carrying out research by sending samples abroad for analysis."

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A goal of our university is to bring tangible health benefits to the communities in the state of Ondo and Nigeria. We are doing this through a deliberate focus on research for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that are prevalent here. The equipment we receive will enhance our research and better position the center to support diagnostic services for viral and emerging infections in the state health system.”

—Olumide Ogundahunsi, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Director of R&D at the University of Medical Sciences

About the Department

Location: Ondo, Nigeria
Year Established: 2015
Students Impacted Annually:  1,500 undergraduate, 80 postgraduate

Why Instrumental Access?

The Centre for Molecular Bioscience and Medical Genomics trains a high volume of students each year. Faculty are currently advancing research on underdiagnosed forms of malaria as well as dietary factors in the development of breast cancer in Nigeria.

Instrumental Access equipment will give the Centre the resources to provide hands-on education for more students each year. The equipment will also allow researchers to continue to implement their research on malaria and cancer.

Shipment Status

En route to Nigeria
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About Instrumental Access

Instrumental Access empowers scientists in developing countries. It gives them the resources they need to pursue life-changing research and teach the next generation.

To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.