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NMIMR in partnership with Department of Chemistry commissions refurbished Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory

In a move to propel and expand the capacity of drug discovery research in Ghana and beyond, the Institute, in collaboration with the Department of Chemistry, University of Ghana (UG held a brief ceremony to commission the refurbished Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory of the Drug Innovation Group at the Department of Chemistry, UG,. This is part of the “Supporting a Drug Discovery Hub in Ghana” project led by Prof. Dorothy Yeboah-Manu, Director of NMIMR and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Prof. Boateng Onwona‐Agyeman joined by Prof. Linda Eva Amoah, Prof. Elsie Effah Kauffman and other UG officials to cut the ribbon

Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana (UG) who Chaired  the ceremony and joined Prof. Linda Eva Amoah and Prof. Richard Amewu, both Co-Principal Investigators of the project, and other high-profile officials attended the ceremony..

Prof. Boateng Onwona‐Agyeman, Provost of College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana

Speaking at the commissioning, Prof. Onwona-Agyeman lauded the collaborating institutions for their unrelenting support for putting up such a laboratory to advance research. According to him, the purpose of the laboratory aligns with the University’s vision of becoming a world-class research-intensive university.

“The partnership between Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, the Department of Chemistry, and Kwame University of Science and Technology to establish such a laboratory is important to us. The University community is grateful for this kind gesture. I believe that the output of research at the laboratory will go a long way to contributing to the vision of the University, which is to become a world-class research-intensive university”, Prof. Onwona Agyeman said.

Laboratory workstations

Stressing on equipment longevity and maintenance, Prof. Onwona-Agyeman urged faculty and staff to use the laboratory for its intended purpose, advising them to put up a good maintenance culture in order to preserve the laboratory.

Rotary evaporator

“Maintenance is usually a problem. Since the manufacturers of this state-of-the-art equipment have a framework, the advice is that we must work closely with the Collage Materials Officer to develop a framework maintenance agreement policy with the companies in order to call upon them anytime there is a challenge. The performance of the equipment depends on how we maintain it, so this is crucial”, he iterated.

Prof. Lina Eva Amoah, Associate of Immunology, Department of Immunology, NMIMR

Adding her voice, Prof. Linda Eva Amoah, Co-PI of the project, who represented the Director of the Institute at the ceremony, explained that as part of the project’s objective, the laboratory is to help develop compounds or synthetic molecules that can be used to cure malaria.

Vacuum pump

Prof. Amoah used the occasion to commend the funders for their immense support. “We are really grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for granting us the funds to do this. We leave this to Prof. Amewu’s care to make sure that the results from this laboratory are something that is as worthy as the laboratory itself”,

Prof. Richard Kwamla Amewu, Associate Professor of Organic and Medicinal Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, UG

According to Prof. Richard Kwamla Amewu, Associate Professor of Organic and Medicinal Chemistry and Co-PI of the project, the laboratory, which is the first of its kind in the country and the possibly in the sub-Saharan region, will facilitate research and training of students. Adding that “this is a fantastic resource that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have given us to facilitate our research, Our primary focus is to identify alternative treatments to existing drugs used to treat malaria”.

Group photo at ceremony

“As we all know, malaria has serious implications for the continent of Africa and the world at large. We have medications that are used to treat the disease, but these treatments are no longer as effective as they used to be due to drug resistance. Therefore, there is a need for alternative medicines to be discovered to replace these existing ones, and that is the gap this laboratory seeks to address”.

Prof. Amewu further said, “Our research is not only limited to malaria; it extends to tuberculosis, cancer, buruli ulcer, trypanosomiasis, and leishmaniasis, amongst others. This laboratory will also offer students in this department exposure similar to what they might have elsewhere”.

Mr. Justice Akwensi, a post-doctoral student on the “Supporting a Drug Discovery Hub in Ghana” project and a member of the Drug Innovation Group, recounted his experience at the laboratory prior to its recent facelift. According to Mr. Akwensi, “as far back as 2016, the laboratory had limited space, and this compelled us to carry out most of our activities on the bench, which consequently affected our workout and productivity”.

Expressing his excitement about the refurbished laboratory, he said, “With the inception of this space, we will have more working space, which will help our work output. The group has grown to have about 15 students, and with this six-unit double unit, we can have twelve students working at the same time and an extra two in the single unit. At least fourteen people can be working simultaneously, and that is a really good advantage. This will help build our capacity to compete with the world out there in terms of output and publications”.

Group photograph of the Drug Innovation Group during the commissioning
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