I grew up in Nigeria and did my undergraduate degree (in Microbiology) there, but was born in Madison, Wisconsin in the US. As an undergraduate student in Nigeria, I developed a strong interest in biotechnology and its beneficial applications in agriculture, health care and the environment, but could not learn more about the field because of the lack of standard scientific laboratories and teaching staff with limited knowledge and experience in the field. In my quest to learn more, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in molecular biology and biochemistry with specialization in biotechnology at the Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
At Georgetown, I acquired a wealth of knowledge and skills in modern scientific principles, techniques and their wide range of industrial applications. I was fascinated about the excellent laboratory infrastructure and quality training given at Georgetown and how it contributes to the personal and career development of both staff and students. This is unlike in Nigeria and many developing countries where instructional materials are obsolete and almost irrelevant to the present issues and challenges (e.g. food insecurity, water scarcity, disease prevalence, etc.) the countries are facing. I knew then that I had to do something to help students and scientists in Africa to acquire the right scientific knowledge and skills that they need to contribute to Africa's development. This was my motivation for founding JR Biotek in June, 2013.
At JR Biotek, we are very passionate and committed to training the next generation of scientists in Africa who can contribute to sustainable development in the continent through scientific research and innovation. In September 2014, we collaborated with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria to launch our first world class hands-on biotechnology laboratory training workshop for students, educators and scientists in Africa. The one-week intensive training course, which was held at IITA campus in Nigeria, provided students, scientists and lab professionals from more than 11 tertiary institutions across six countries in Africa, with excellent knowledge and skills in modern scientific concepts, techniques and various beneficial applications, particularly in agriculture and biomedical diagnostics.
We received many applications from science students and professionals from more than 12 African nations, but could only train twenty candidates because of limited laboratory space and the high costs associated with the hands-on lab training. Many participants who wanted to attend the training course to help with their personal and career development could not because they could not afford to pay the minimal fee, which is about 50% less than what a similar training here in the US would cost. With IITA waiving the bench fee and the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), a Nigerian government agency providing part sponsorship, we were able to hold the lab training workshop, and have since received excellent reviews and feedback from the trainees on how the training is helping them in their academics and research careers.
Although JR Biotek plans to continue to offer our world class hands-on laboratory training courses to students and scientists in Africa on an annual basis, funding permitted, we are excited about the possibility to reach more students and scientists in developing countries through our interdisciplinary scientific e-learning platform, which is very accessible, flexible and cost-effective. We understand the kind of quality scientific training our target audiences need and that is what we would offer through our innovative Life Sciences E-Learning Center.
Please support us in our mission to prepare a new generation of scientists in Africa and developing countries by joining our fundraising team or by simply donating to our cause through this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/jrbiotek-womenstartup2015/fundraiser/carolibe.
Thank you so, so much for your support. I truly do appreciate it.
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