Royal Society of Chemistry partnership with GSK – one year in
Set up by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2008, the Pan Africa Chemistry Network (PACN) aims to create a self-sustaining science base in Africa, to solve local challenges and contribute to global knowledge in the chemical sciences.
In 2015, we launched a five-year partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to train over 400 African scientists in key analytical chemistry techniques.
Volunteers from GSK are sharing their technical expertise as trainers and advisers on the programme at hubs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.
One year in, the training is already making an impact
First year highlights
In 2016, we focused on Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS), a vital analytical technique. The training covers the theory and practical aspects of GC-MS, as well as how to repair and maintain the machine.
With support from delivery partner Anthias, we held four GC-MS courses in 2016, at hubs in Addis Ababa, Kumasi, Nairobi and Lagos.
Sixty-seven chemists from around Africa attended these courses. They are now applying their expertise to research that includes exploring the anti-malarial properties of plants, screening drinking water for contaminants and identifying counterfeit medicine.
A key part of the programme is to train local chemists to run the GC-MS programme into the future. We have already recruited all ten trainers, one of whom is now rolling out the course to regional universities in Ethiopia.
I’ve shared the knowledge I gained with my fellow researchers, and we’ve realised how fundamental the programme is in supporting African scientists to solve local challenges.
What are we doing next?
We have five training courses planned for 2017 – two in Kenya and one each at our other hubs in Ghana, Nigeria and Ethiopia.
We’ll be introducing high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to our training programme. HPLC is the highest industry standard, and combining it with GC-MS techniques will give trainees the flexibility to use both, depending on the equipment available and the scientific need.
The partnership will carry on supporting our ten Local Trainers. They will run the programme in the long term, helping to build a sustainable community of analytical chemists in Africa and create a lasting legacy.
Our partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry is one of the key investments we’re making to tackle current and future healthcare challenges in Africa, support training and education, and give scientists more opportunities in their home country.
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