The IITA Bioscience Center organized a training program for 41 students of Afe Babalola University, from the department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, College of Medicine and Health Science. The 5-day Basic Molecular Biology Techniques and Bioinformatics workshop took place from 13 to 17 January at the IITA Ibadan Campus. The purpose of the workshop was to equip students with the basic knowledge of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and allow them to have hands-on experience.
Yemi Fasanmade, Bioscience Laboratory Manager, said the IITA Bioscience Center organizes hands-on molecular biology trainings twice a year to give students and researchers the opportunity to gain practical knowledge of biotechnology. Although this is not one of the usual annual trainings, IITA seizes every opportunity to help students go beyond their theoretical knowledge, to gain practical experience through the Institute’s world class laboratory facilities. Many students have the theoretical knowledge but have not been exposed to first-hand experience due to lack of facilities.
Accompanied by the Acting Head of Department (AHOD) and a lecturer, the students received a warm welcome from Melaku Gedil, Molecular Geneticist, on behalf of the Head of the Bioscience Center, Michael Abberton. Gedil encouraged the students to take the opportunity seriously as IITA is one of the best places in Africa for this training because of the availability and functionality of its facilities. “It’s not about wanting to know the techniques of genomics or biotechnology, passion and hard work is required in understanding why we do these things,” he said.
The students visited the DNA and RNA laboratories for the practical sessions, working in teams. For the first time, they were exposed to genomic DNA extraction, amplification using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, sequencing using the genetic analyzer, and interpretation of results.
Describing their experience, two students—Igwe Philip Chinonso and Solomon Okon Rejoice—recalled that they have been exposed to the theoretical aspects of Biotechnology and Genomics since their 200 Level but have never practiced it. They both agreed that their expectations were exceeded, seeing the kind of facilities the Institute has and the way the staff handled the training. Okon explained that she not only learned how to extract DNA but also how to check the quality of the genomic DNA for impurities.
Dr Olusegun Adeoluwa, AHOD of the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Department also commended IITA for the effectiveness of the training, adding that he also benefited from it. “I realized that my students needed to be exposed to hands-on training and I discovered that IITA is the best place for this training.” He also mentioned that the training will be continued for every set of final year students in the department henceforth.
Certificates were awarded after evaluating the effectiveness of the training through question and answer sessions and team assignments.