NIMR establishes biomedical training, cancer research centre
NIMA Determined to ensure that the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Yaba, Lagos, meets its mandate in research and training of Nigerian scientists, the institution has established a state-of-the-art biomedical training and cancer research centre.
N80 million-worth centre, which was built with revolving fund from NIMR and in collaboration with AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) based in Jos, Plateau State, and Sysmex-Patec, a German-based company, is set to be commissioned on Tuesday September 29, 2015.
Director General of NIMR, Prof. Innocent Ujah, told The Guardian: “NIMR is celebrating excellence and achievement. NIMR since I came to this institution, I can say that I have raised the profile, from being an obscured health research institution to centre of excellence nationally and internationally, and I continue to do this despite the challenges of funding, and the poor understanding of policy makers of the contribution of research to development.
“However, as we move on, we believe to reposition our selves, to respond to national set priorities, and that is why we decided to build a centre for excellence for biomedical training, and cancer research.
“Biomedical training in this sense will include issues of equipment repairs, because as you know many of our equipment are imported and after a while they are dumped, because there are no engineers, so we have this partnership and collaboration with Sysmex-Patec, based in Germany.
“We have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sysmex-Patec and they are helping us to equip the centre which we built. Is about medical training and cancer research centre. We have facilities for research into pathological problems, particularly in the areas of coagulation disorders and they have helped us to furnish the building in terms of ICT, in terms of laboratory equipment, in terms of conference rooms, and syndicate rooms.
“We also have support from APIN Nigeria, with whom we have been working for some time, and also Sysmex-Patec, which we worked with for the past 13 years, so we are building the centre, to build health research capacity of Nigerians, not just members of the institute. And also, we have to train for grants writing, we have to train for scientific writing. We are very poor in Nigeria in competing for international grants writing because our health research capacity in terms of proposal writing is not very good. Also, many of us, our colleagues write scientific papers that are rejected, and the issue of monitoring and evaluation, so these are key areas that we want to use this centre for. And it is well equipped with ICT, with computers, laptops, Internet facility, and we would use this to improve the health research capacity of Nigerians.”
On why the emphasis on cancer, Ujah said: “Now NIMR under my leadership is focusing on cancer of the cervix, cancer of the prostrate, cancer of breast, these are the common cancers that kill people in large numbers, not only in Nigeria, but worldwide. Nigeria, particularly, because we have challenges of ignorance and poverty and illiteracy, so we think we should train and equip researchers and scientists in the ability to screen, and we have a machine, cobalt 4800 that screens for human papilloma virus that virus that causes cancer of the cervix.
“So we want to actually screen, study the type of human papilloma virus and see weather that is what we have in Nigeria .and provide policy documents that will inform policy decisions of government to see weather we should be able introduce vaccination for human papilloma virus to prevent cancer of the cervix, so this is a way of strengthening our research capacity to screen, to detect and then prevent, and I think that is very important, therefore the issue of cancer have been very central to us as a research institute, and we are collaborating with international partners like Emry University in Atlanta, United States and also, we are even looking at the issue of Anti Retroviral (ARV) drug resistant Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
“At the moment, we are doing an extensive research on that and we want to up scale it to a national study, and that we think the Centre will also help us, despite the fact that we say cancer research center, there are so many others studies of relevance the centre will provide for. Like I said we have conference rooms, it has syndicate rooms, and it have laboratories, for which you stay at a point like a one stop shop, were many things can happen with out you leaving the building, and that is something we take very seriously, and to add to it.
“We have international recognition, so clearly, it should be shown. Only last week, the United States Department of Defence (DOD), visited NIMR last week, and they were very impressed with us and want to work with us, they want to research with us. We had a very beautiful meeting and at the end of it all, it was very good, in fact the team was lead by Colonel Stephen Thomas, who is in charge of the programme. Clearly we are in the right direction.”
Is the new Biomedical Centre ready? Ujah said: “It is ready, it is well equipped, it is a state of art building with all the facilities in place, and we by His grace is ready for commissioning on the September 29, 2015, and you will be interested to know that despite all the challenges, we have brought creativity, we have brought initiatives to ensure that we need to continue to move on, not just waiting for government, I can tell you that that building has no kobo from the Federal Government; our revolving fund here was used to build that facility. Like I said, APIN Nigeria and Sysmex-Patec were the ones that equipped the facility, the laboratories and the conference rooms, with all the ICT materials, chairs, tables, and power point projectors for educational purposes.”