The work of scientists in some of Africa’s remotest communities is about to be transformed by the University of Dundee. A team from the University’s Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR) will travel to Malawi this week with crates of apparatus to be distributed to local researchers. Part of an ongoing initiative by the University’s School of Life Sciences to support scientists in the developing world, four members of staff from the WCAIR flew out to Africa on yesterday.
While primarily traveling to teach a Master’s course in Traditional Herbal Medicine, Suze Farrell, WCAIR Training Manager who is leading the team, said that the trip was a great opportunity to support science in Malawi. “The work we do here in Dundee places great emphasis on developing therapies for Neglected Tropical Diseases, such as Leishmaniasis, which affect countries in the developing world. As well as this, we also welcome trainees from these countries to help them learn more about the work we do. However, we want to sustain these relationships after our trainees leave Dundee, and providing equipment is one way in which we can do this. The items that we are taking to Malawi will transform the working capability of the scientists operating out there, some in what are extremely basic conditions. This trip highlights our commitment to our trainees in countries like Malawi, and our determination to promote further research into rare and tropical diseases.”
The process of shipping the crates of equipment began last week. The team will spend a fortnight in Malawi, teaching and delivering the equipment, further establishing links within the country. “Scientists in Malawi have huge problems to overcome,” continued Suze. “Obtaining new equipment is very expensive and there are also logistical issues that mean that the progress of a scientist’s work can take much longer than here in Dundee. Those who come here from other countries are amazed at the facilities that we have and if we are able to help chemists or biologists by replicating just a small part of our working environment in Malawi then that will benefit their work immeasurably.”
Photo (from left): Suze Farrell, Darren Edwards, Lauren Webster and Sandra O'Neill from the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research.