MRC Gambia Commissions New Molecular Biology Laboratory


By Ndey Sowe

Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia (MRC) at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has commissioned a new molecular biology laboratory at Fajara campus on Tuesday, 12th October, 2021.

The new laboratory will expand MRC’s laboratory footprint and provide a fit-purpose facility for cutting-edge research. The laboratory will also house support facilities as well as seminar and conference facilities.

The new laboratory was officially commissioned by President Adama Barrow and professor Liam Smeeth, the new director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The building was opened by Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh represented by Director of Health Services, Dr. Mustapha Bitttaye, Dr. Isatou Touray, the Vice President of The Gambia, and professor Liam Smeeth, the new director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who is in The Gambia for a visit.

Vice president Touray described the day as a ground-breaking event.

“This inauguration is a celebration of the MRC Unit The Gambia’s continued service to the people of The Gambia, and it is with the greatest gratitude that I congratulate you for the excellent work you do in this country,” she said.

Madam Touray said for almost 75 years, MRC Unit Gambia at LSHTM has worked closely with the government of The Gambia, especially the Ministry of Health, to develop ground-breaking research and improve health outcomes in the country.

She said the impact of this collaboration is seen in households and communities that continue to benefit from the knowledge, services and support of staff and partners of MRC Unit The Gambia.

VP Touray further said she is convinced that the new laboratory will enhance these contributions and support their work as a government, adding that it will also strengthen MRC Union The Gambia’s research and diagnostic capabilities as well as compliment their work, particularly under the Ministry of Health.

Photo: VP Touray, Professor Umbertor holding the bag and Liam Smeeth with other stakeholders.

Professor Umberto D’Alessandro, the MRC Unit Gambia Director, said the new infrastructure will further increase their capacity to be able to conduct ground-breaking research to inform health policies in The Gambia and across sub-Saharan Africa.

“For almost 75 years – next year will be the 75th anniversary of activity – 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 sister institutions across Africa,” Professor Umberto said.

Professor Umberto disclosed that some of the young scientists trained at the unit have become recognised international research leaders.

 “Our relatively new integration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, a leader in global health research, has further increased our capacity of both conducting cutting edge research and building local capacities,” Professor Umberto said. “We will continue to investigate and evaluate new interventions/approaches to provide evidence supporting health policies that will make this world a fairer place where everybody will have the same opportunities to develop his/her own potential.”

Dr. Mustapha Bittaye, Director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health who was deputising the Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh, said they are happy with the contribution of the MRC- Gambia on issues of ethics, laboratory services, clinical services, mentorship and other supports to the Ministry of Health.

“We hope that this edifice will enhance the capacities to MRCG and all so raise what can be done in The Gambia,” Dr. Bittaye added.