World class training in regional facility - Addis Ababa University team receives specialized training at the BecA-ILRI Hub
- Written on Friday, 04 September 2015 13:20
NAIROBI, 4 September 2015—The shortage of scientists, engineers, health professionals and technicians in sub-Saharan Africa has been blamed for the lack of sustainable homegrown solutions to development challenges on the continent. To address this gap, innovative approaches to providing high level Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills training with the limited national resources available to majority African governments of must be sought.
From 17-28 August 2015, a team of eight scientists from the Addis Ababa University received a tailor-made training in molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in Nairobi.
By undertaking the training just 1,500km from home, the team, which had received funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH, USA) to conduct research on tuberculosis in Ethiopia, was able to minimize project costs of time, travel and accommodation. The project entitled “Systems Biology for Molecular Analysis of Tuberculosis in Ethiopia” is being implemented in collaboration with the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), USA.
‘When my counterpart Dr Rembert Pieper from JCVI proposed the BecA-ILRI Hub as the training sight, I was excited because it meant we could have more people trained,’ said Prof. Gobena Ameni, project principal investigator and Professor at the Addis Ababa University. ‘The option of travelling to USA for the same training would have cost the project too much time and money,’ he added.
The two-week training which comprised lectures and hands-on experience enabled the participants acquire basic skills in genomic DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction, plasmid cloning, DNA sequencing and bioinformatics.
‘The training was excellent and has opened our minds to new ideas and areas of study,’ said Ameni. ‘It will not only be relevant to our current project NIH-funded project but also for our projects in other areas’ he said.
The workshop was conducted as part of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s mandate to strengthen the capacity of African national research scientists and institutions. This shared research platform exists to enable African science leaders to solve some of Africa’s key agricultural challenges through the applications of modern biotechnology by hosting research, conducting trainings and by providing research related services.
‘The BecA-ILRI Hub will build on this model of building capacity and continue to engage national agricultural research systems in the region in order to sharpen our focus on innovatively responding to the needs of the NARS,’ said Wellington Ekaya, a senior scientist in charge of capacity building. ‘This kind of engagement means that BecA-ILRI Hub can build the capacity of research scientist from African NARS to conduct high-end research at an affordable cost’.
- Written on Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:38
The BecA-ILRI Hub hereby invites applications for a workshop on scientific research paper writing to be held from 26-30 October 2015. The workshop is one of BecA-ILRI Hub’s annual training workshops under the capacity building portfolio, whose objective is to strengthen the capacity of African NARS to effectively, efficiently and sustainably deliver on their national mandates. The training will be conducted at the ILRI Campus, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Eligibility / Applicant requirements
The workshop is generally open to PhD students and early career agricultural researchers with a strong interest in improving their writing skills. More specific applicant requirements include the following:
• African scientist with PhD or MSc in any agricultural discipline
• Fluent in English (written and spoken)
• Currently conducting agricultural bio sciences research with an African national agricultural research program or university in one of the BecA countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.
• Must have a project report for conversion to a paper, and/or analyzed research data through figures and tables Women candidates are particularly encouraged to apply
How to apply
Interested eligible scientists / researchers should apply by completing the online application form; http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/Writeshop2015/
In addition, the applicant must attach a supporting letter from his/her supervisor or Head of Institution.
Key dates / Application deadline
• Call for applications release: 27 August 2015
• Application deadline: 18 September 2015
• Information to successful applicants: 24 September 2015- Applications submitted after the 18 September 2015 deadline and incomplete applications will not be considered.
There are several fully funded places for this workshop. However, applicants who can fund their participation have an added advantage. The cost of the workshop is $1500, excluding flights and accommodation
Inquiries about the workshop and / or the BecA-ILRI Hub Capacity Building Program should be directed to Dr. Wellington Ekaya, Senior Scientist Capacity Building (w.ekaya "at" cgiar.org) or Ms. Valerian Aloo, Capacity Building Program Officer (v.aloo "at" cgiar.org).
For comprehensive information about the BecA-ILRI Hub visit http://hub.africabiosciences.org/
Attached is the concept note and information flyer for the workshop.
- Written on Thursday, 13 August 2015 06:40
6 August 2015, Nairobi, Kenya --The BecA-ILRI hub hosted a lab tour for Kenyan parliamentarians drawn from various house committees. The Members of parliament were on a mission to assess the human and infrastructural capacity in agricultural biotechnology research in Kenya.
The tour which was organized by the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) under the BioAWARE programme in collaboration with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), the Kenya University Biotechnology Consortium (KUBICO) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) included visits to Kenyatta University and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).
The visit which gave the law makers an opportunity to interact with scientists was hailed as an eye opener by the chair of the education committee in parliament, Hon. Sabina Chege who took part in the tour. “I urge scientists to organize more such events to equip the legislature with vital information in research that will enable them make informed decisions” she said.
Read original post in the CropBiotech: Kenya Has Capacity to Grow GMOs, Parliamentarians Say
- Written on Friday, 07 August 2015 08:01
Wednesday 5 August 2015 - The BecA-ILRI Hub staff and Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) fellows held a celebration in honour of Dr Gity Behravan, First Secretary – Regional Research Cooperation, at the Embassy of Sweden in Kenya.
Through her oversight role in the BecA-Sweden partnership, Berhavan has been instrumental in the growth of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s capacity to empower African scientists and national agricultural research systems (NARS) to solve Africa’s agricultural challenges by strengthening research for development capacity in biosciences.
'Having engaged with BecA since the very beginning, I am impressed with how it has grown into a vibrant program that is relevant to the wider African science agenda,' said Behravan. 'I am not leaving you behind, but will continue to support this program in my new role in Stockholm.'
The partnership which is funded by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) brings together partners from African NARS, private sector, international research institutes, foreign universities and the CGIAR to conduct research aimed at achieving food security and climate change mitigation. The partnership also provides financial support for the BecA-ILRI Hub annual training workshops and avails technical advice and enhanced capacity from Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) to the bioinformatics platform.
Berhavan who has been with the partnership since its inception in 2011 will be relocating to Stockholm Sweden.
Read more about the BecA-Sweden partnership: Enhancing international partnerships for agricultural productivity in Africa – The BecA-ILRI Hub’s research for development partnership with Sweden in focus
Read a related story on the partnership with SLU: Building bioinformatics capacity in Africa - The BecA-ILRI Hub and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences partnership
UK chief scientific adviser visits Kenya: Research and capacity building partnerships for development
- Written on Wednesday, 15 July 2015 00:43
A visit by the United Kingdom Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sir Mark Walport to the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya on 15 July 2015 highlighted how UK’s investment in research in Africa is spurring the emergence of strategic partnerships between research institutions in UK and Africa.
During his visit to ILRI, Sir Mark toured the state-of-the-art Biosciences eastern and central Africa-ILRI (BecA-ILRI) Hub laboratories, a facility that provides access to and hosts research by African national scientists and their partners working to tackle key challenges to food and nutritional security on the continent.
Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) program
Sir Walport learned how the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and other donors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sweden, Australia (DFAT) and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) are jointly supporting a program that brings over 50 African national scientists a year to the BecA-ILRI Hub to conduct cutting edge, appropriate research aimed at addressing key constraints to African food and nutritional security, from BecA-ILRI Hub capacity building scientist Wellington Ekaya.
To demonstrate the impact that the ABCF program is already having on national programs’ research, Barberine Assongo from the University of Dschang in Cameroon briefed Sir Walport on the research she is conducting as an ABCF fellow to control the economically significant cattle disease, East coast fever (ECF). This tick borne disease is responsible for the deaths of over one million cattle each year valued at over $300 million in Sub Saharan Africa. Although a vaccine based on the whole live parasite is available, its need for cold storage and delivery has hampered widespread use in endemic areas. There are also concerns about spreading the disease to new areas by establishing a ‘carrier’ state in vaccinated animals. Through her research, Barberine hopes to contribute to the development of a vaccine based on parts of the parasite which will not require cold-chain storage and delivery.
Stemming food losses from devastating crop diseases in Africa
Among the scientists Sir Walport met during his visit to ILRI were researchers Jagger Harvey, Josiah Mutuku (BecA-ILRI Hub) and Samuel Mutiga (University of Arkansas/BecA-ILRI Hub visiting researcher) who are working on components of bean and rice improvement projects supported by the Sustainable Crop Production Research for International Development (SCPRID) initiative, funded by UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and (through a grant awarded to BBSRC) the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
The SCPRID project focused on beans is working to manipulate natural dynamics in bean-virus-aphid interactions for the benefit of over 200 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who depend on the common bean for nutrition and income. A team of scientists from University of Cambridge and Rothamsted Research (UK); the BecA-ILRI Hub; and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)-Pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) are exploring new ways of controlling bean virus diseases by altering the feeding patterns and behaviour of aphids through this initiative.
In the SCPRID rice project being partly conducted at the BecA-ILRI Hub, researchers from University of Exeter, the Ohio State University, the University of Arkansas, the BecA-ILRI Hub, Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), and the Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA), Burkina Faso are using genomics to develop durable blast resistance in rice in Africa. The production of rice which has recently become the staple food for a large population in Africa is threatened by rice blast, a fungal disease which causes a global loss of amounts large enough to feed around 60 million people each year. The project has collected and tested blast fungal isolates from East and West Africa against a panel of potentially resistant rice lines, and is devising the breeding strategies for deployment in each of the two regions.
New alliances for capacity building in research
Through strategic collaborations with advanced research institutions in the UK, the BecA-ILRI Hub has set the stage for sub-regional organizations, African universities and research institutions within the BecA region; western and southern Africa and beyond to benefit from relevant high-end basic research. A Memorandum of Understanding between the BecA-ILRI Hub and the John Innes Centre (JIC), UK, has brought one of the leading plant science institutes in the world as direct partners in the research for development pipeline for African agricultural improvement. The JIC Director of International Strategy and Liaison, Christopher Darby and JIC molecular wheat breeder Cristobal Uauy who were in Nairobi to lead a selection panel for a JIC Science for Africa PhD studentship in yellow wheat rust research, expounded on the role of the alliance in significantly augmenting the BecA-ILRI Hub’s ability to support NARS research to Sir Walport.
Two key collaborations under the BecA-JIC alliance on crop improvement received special attention. Alemu Abate, a grass pea breeder from Askum University in Ethiopia who is currently an ABCF fellow and Peter Emmrich, a JIC grass pea researcher currently at the BecA-ILRI Hub to provide technical support, highlighted the significance of Abate’s project to produce safer lines of the drought-hardy crop that can survive under harsh conditions faced by millions of subsistence farmers, but which is associated with a plant toxin that causes paralysis. Doreen Mutoni, a bean breeder from the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) and ABCF fellow, Tilly Eldridge, a JIC scientist based at the BecA-ILRI Hub and Cristobal Uauy a JIC molecular wheat breeder, highlighted how Mutoni and the RAB program are being supported in applying genomics to introduce molecular breeding to an already strong conventional breeding program.
Eldridge’s secondment at the BecA-ILRI Hub is funded by The John Innes Foundation and a BMGF supplementary grant to the Engineering Symbiosis for Africa (ENSA) project. Over the next year, Eldridge and other JIC researchers will be supporting capacity building activities at the BecA-ILRI Hub. The BecA-ILRI Hub’s capacity to connect NARS scientists to global research partners in an aggressive effort towards a food and nutritionally secure future continues to be strengthened by a four year Program Support Grant of USD 12.5 million being funded jointly by DFID and BMGF.
- Written on Friday, 10 July 2015 12:28
Workshop dates: 7 – 18, September 2015
The BecA-ILRI Hub seeks to strengthen the capacity of the African scientific community, to conduct bioscience research and significantly contribute to improved agricultural products that can enhance livelihoods of farmers in the region.
As part of this capacity building programme, the BecA-ILRI Hub in collaboration with SLU will hold a training workshop on Advanced Genomics and Bioinformatics commencing from 7th– 18th September 2015. The workshop aims to provide a learning forum for researchers in bioinformatics, computational biology as well as scientists utilizing computational methods in their research.
We are seeking applicants from East and Central Africa who require advanced skills in Bioinformatics to support their research. A total of 25 graduate students and early career researchers will be selected based on evidence of productive research and relevance of the training to their current research. Applicants who are currently engaged in agricultural research within a national research institute or a university are highly encouraged to apply.
Selected participants will attend an intensive 2 weeks training workshop at the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, Kenya. The program includes comprehensive lectures and hands-on training sessions in Linux, Genomics and Next generation sequencing technologies, Genome and transcriptome assembly, Metagenome and metagenomic analysis tools and their applications to biological research.
A team of creditable facilitators from the SLU, New York University and BecA-ILRI Hub (Kenya) will conduct the training.
• A national of one of the BecA countries: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
• Affiliated with a national research program or university in the East African BecA region
• Currently engaged in biosciences research
• a minimum of MSc in biological sciences
• Good working knowledge of written and spoken English
• Online application form completed by 10th August 2015:
Women candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.
Applications received after deadline and incomplete applications will not be considered. Successful applicants will be notified by 14 August 2015.
The workshop concept note is attached.
Thank you for considering this opportunity and we look forward to hearing from you.
For more information about the BecA-ILRI Hub visit http://hub.africabiosciences.org/
Enhancing international partnerships for agricultural productivity in Africa – The BecA-ILRI Hub’s research for development partnership with Sweden in focus
- Written on Thursday, 02 July 2015 08:58
From 29-30 June 2015, the Director of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, Appolinaire Djikeng, visited the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in Stockholm to discuss Sweden’s continued role in enhancing agricultural productivity in Africa.
For the past nine years, the BecA-ILRI Hub and SLU have been partnering to increase the capability of African national agricultural research systems (NARS) in bioinformatics, an interdisciplinary field which addresses biological problems using computational techniques. The BecA-ILRI Hub has also, since 2012, been implementing a suite of unique research projects focused on achieving food security and climate change mitigation with funding from the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Sida.
The deliberations during the meetings focused on the key outputs of the BecA- Sweden partnership, the lessons learned and emerging areas of collaboration. Plans for joint resource mobilization and implementation of collaborative programs were also discussed in the context of a presentation given by Djikeng on ‘The BecA-ILRI Hub and its role in enhancing agricultural productivity in Africa through regional and international collaborations for research for development.’
Read the original story here: SLU enhances the collaboration with bioscience hub in eastern and central Africa
Read a related story on the partnership with SLU here:
Find out more about the BecA-Sweden partnership here.
Top plant research institution stations scientist in Africa - The BecA-ILRI Hub John Innes Centre alliance
- Written on Thursday, 18 June 2015 13:36
Through an alliance established with the BecA-ILRI Hub in 2014, the John Innes Centre (JIC), a world-leading international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology, has now stationed one of their scientists, Tilly Eldridge in Kenya.
The agreement between the institutions opens doors to new capacity building, resource mobilization and technology transfer activities between Africa and Europe. Tilly, a post-doctoral scientist from the UK, talks about her inspiration, aspirations and experiences as a pioneer in anticipated vibrant exchange of research experiences between UK and Africa.
Inspiration, aspirations and experiences by Tilly Eldridge
I have always wanted to spend part of my career contributing to the advancement of research for agriculture in Africa. I first heard about the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub when I was entering the final year of my PhD studies and started enquiring about opportunities to work in Africa. It was not long after this that Jagger Harvey, a BecA-ILRI Hub scientist, visited the John Innes Centre (JIC) where I was and gave a very good presentation about the BecA-ILRI Hub.
Listening to Jagger talk made me feel that the BecA-ILRI Hub was the perfect place for me to fulfil my ambitions. The institute has an excellent scientific reputation and ground breaking policies in capacity building. The completion of my PhD at JIC in October 2014 was perfect timing since the JIC-BecA alliance collaborations had started to gain momentum and I had an opportunity to get involved.
I hope that I can be an integral part of the JIC-BecA alliance, helping align projects and expertise from both institutes to make this a really fruitful collaboration. I hope that I also that I can evolve my own area of expertise and offer support to the many African national agricultural research system (NARS) scientists that are hosted here. I am inspired by the fact that the BecA-ILRI Hub is a hub for scientists working on national priority research projects from across the whole region. I look forward to making
Everyone at the BecA-ILRI Hub has been really welcoming, enthusiastic and friendly since my arrival. I found that the science conducted here is indeed cutting edge and I am really impressed with the level of support that the staff provides no matter how busy they are. I look forward to continuing in the key role of being the main point of contact for the JIC-BecA alliance here at the BecA-ILRI Hub
For my own research, it is really empowering to not just be focussed on getting that next important result but to also be part of capacity building for African scientists. I think that many students and post-doctoral scientists from JIC would benefit greatly from spending time at the BecA-ILRI Hub and vice versa.
- Written on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 21:10
We apologise that due to the thorough review conducted by internal and external panelists, the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) selection of successful candidates has taken longer than initially planned.
The exercise is however complete and successful applicants have been contacted. ALL contacted candidates have responded and are at various stages of finalizing their proposals. If you have not received any notification on the same then consider your application not successful.
Below is a summary of statistics on the 2015 ABCF applications and selected projects:
- Total applications / proposals received: 278
- Total projects selected: 34
- Categorization of selected projects into BecA-ILRI Hub research themes:
Livestock Improvement: 13
Crop Improvement: 11
Food safety and nutrition: 5
Climate change: 3
Under-utilized species: 2
Out of the 34 projects, 7 projects have received co-funding from home institutions.
- Should any applicant whose project has been selected drop out for any reason, the selection committee will identify another project on the reserve list within the same thematic area of research.
- Due to the large number of applications, we are not able to give applicants individual feedback on comments made on a proposal. Kindly accept our apologies.
The BecA-ILRI Hub sincerely appreciates your interest in the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund.
Modernizing small-scale livestock agriculture – Rwanda and ILRI agree to closer collaboration in future
- Written on Thursday, 21 May 2015 12:39
The Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) earlier this month signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate research that will help modernize small-scale agriculture in the country.
The agreement was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on 6 May 2015 by the Rwandan Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Hon Gerardine Mukeshimana, and Iain Wright,ILRI’s deputy director general for integrated sciences. Until mid-2014, the minister, who is a plant breeder by training, had beenworking at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA)-ILRI Hub, where she employed molecular virology, genomics and bioinformatics in strategies to control the spread of viral diseases of the common bean, a staple food of her country.
Present at the signing ceremony were the director of the BecA-ILRI Hub, Appolinaire Djikeng, and Romano Kiome, an agricultural and rural development specialist who formerly served as director of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI, now the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation) and permanent secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture.
‘I’m delighted to have signed, on behalf of ILRI, the MoU with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources,’ said Iain Wright. ‘It is clear that the livestock sector in Rwanda has huge potential to contribute even more than it currently does to economic development and food and nutrition security.’ He added that the Rwanda Government’s ‘One Cow per Poor Family’ program, which has already reached nearly a quarter million poor households since its inception in 2006, is an example of the difference livestock development can make to people’s lives.
The MoU marks a new level of collaboration between ILRI and the Rwanda Government to bolster the livestock sector’s ability to feed a rapidly growing population. From 2008 to 2013, ILRI was a key partner in the first phase of a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) Project—that operated in Rwanda and two other East African countries. Implemented by a consortium of partners led by Heifer International, this project has helped enhance the region’s dairy value chain and increase the incomes of its many small-scale dairy farmers.
Funders of the BecA-ILRI Hub have to date invested nearly half a million dollars in support of Rwandan scientists tackling various food challenges in their country. A joint initiative ofthe African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AU-NEPAD) and ILRI, the Hub has helped more than 40 Rwandan scientists apply the latest biotechnologiesin research on issues of national importance.
Starting in 2013, scientists of the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) have also been engaged with the Hub in collaborative research on Brachiaria grasses, producing improved, farmer preferred, varieties of this nutritious fodder that is now in use by more than 100 livestock farmers. These grasses, which are native to Africa, are among the most widely cultivated forages in South and Central America and Australia, where they have significantly increased cattle milk and meat yields in cattle. Some 56 Rwandese farms are now testing responses in productivity levels (changes in milk and/or liveweight gains) to Brachiaria feeding.
Among other Rwanda scientists the Hub has supported is Kizito Nishimwe, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda who conducted a study of the levels of aflatoxin contamination of Rwanda’s maize. To date, a dearth of data on aflatoxin levels in this nationally important crop, which feeds animals as well as people, has hampered development of policies to control contamination and has limited the growth of Rwanda’s commercial maize markets and trade. Nishimwe’s research lays the foundation for development of interventions that will better control aflatoxin poisoning.
This new partnership agreement between Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and ILRI lays the foundation for even closer and more productive collaborations in future. Working together, scientists from Rwanda, the BecA-ILRI Hub and the rest of ILRI will be well-positioned to advance and accelerate knowledge and technologies that improve Rwanda’s agricultural productivity and incomes as well as its food and nutritional security.
- Written on Thursday, 30 April 2015 05:30
Deploying durable yellow rust resistance in African wheat (UAUY_J15SFA), PhD 4 year Project
Project Start Date: 01 Oct 2015
Supervisor: Cristobal Uauy cristobal.uauy(at)jic.ac.uk
Department: Crop Genetics
Wheat provides over 20% of the calories and protein consumed by humans. As the world population continues to increase, the sustainability of wheat yields must be improved by minimizing losses produced by pathogens. Wheat yellow rust, caused by Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, is one of the most devastating diseases of wheat worldwide. To address Food Security new tools are needed to combat this devastating disease.
About the project
The project has an unprecedented opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of new breeding lines with improved resistance to wheat yellow rust. The studentship builds upon previous research that laid the foundations for this project by creating a host of resources that can be utilized right from the start. This includes mapping populations for resistance genes which are effective across many wheat growing environments, cutting edge molecular techniques as well as the latest genomics resources available in wheat. The project aims to characterise these resistance sources and generate closely linked genetic markers to enable deployment of these genes into African breeding lines.
The project will train the student in a set of skills that cover all aspects of modern plant molecular breeding, including bioinformatics skills, and will thus provide the student with an excellent foundation for their future. The student will come into a highly dynamic and multi-disciplinary group that uses the latest technologies in gene discovery and translation to breeders. They will form part of the Norwich Rust Group composed of seven research groups working on rust fungi and will we welcomed into a larger international project with partners across Europe, Africa and South Asia. This will provide the student with an extensive scientific network. The student will also learn more widely applicable skills like teamwork, science communication and presentation as well as long-term planning skills. The applied nature of the project also means that the student will have to frequently interact with breeding companies, giving the student an insight into the commercial side of plant breeding.
This 4-year John Innes Centre Science for Africa studentship is available to successful candidates who meet the eligibility criteria of the studentship. Below is the link to the studentship eligibility guidelines which all candidates should check to confirm their eligibility for funding. Candidates must be nationals of and ordinarily resident in a Sub-Saharan African country. The current stipend for 2015/6 is £14,057 per annum.
For full details on eligibility see the Guide to Studentship Eligibility: http://bit.ly/scienceforafrica
This studentship is open for application. For further information and an application form, please visit the ‘How to Apply’ page on our website: http://students.jic.ac.uk/current-opportunities/how-to-apply/
For further information please contact graduates.nrp(at)nbi.ac.uk
Deadline for Applications: 07 Jun 2015
- Written on Monday, 27 April 2015 10:12
The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub seeks to strengthen the capacity of the African scientific community in the understanding and application of methods in quantitative genetics and genomics to support research that will improve agricultural products and enhance food security in the region. As part of its capacity building programme, the BecA-ILRI Hub will hold a training course on Animal quantitative genetics and genomics from 1 - 5 June 2015.
This call seeks applicants who require basic skills in quantitative genetics and genomics to support their research. Applicants will be selected based on evidence of productive scholarship and research; relevance of the workshop to current research; and engagement in agricultural research within a national research institute or university. Selected participants will attend an intensive 5-day training course at the ILRI campus in Nairobi, Kenya, with lectures and practical sessions population genetics, mixed linear models, genetic markers, GWAS, genomic selection among others topics. Participants will also have on hand practical sessions on programming.
• Nationals of any Africa country are eligible but priority will be given to nationals of BecA countries (Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda).
• Strong affiliation with a national agricultural research program or institution or university in any of the above countries.
• Currently engaged in animal breeding/genetics research.
• Holders of BSc, MSc or PhD in Animal breeding and genetics or a related subject.
• Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
• Basic knowledge of computer-based applications relevant to this course.
• Endorsement by applicant’s home institution through letter of nomination/recommendation from head of department or institution head.
Women candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.
Laptops will be necessary for all the training sessions. You will be expected to have R and Fortran compiler installed
The training will be delivered by experts in animal quantitative genetics and genomics from the ILRI Animal Biosciences and international research partners from the USA.
Closing date for applications: midnight 10 May 2015 (Nairobi time)
Successful applicants will be notified by: 13 May 2015
To apply, click here
Call for Applications: 2015 Introduction to Principles in Laboratory Management and Equipment Operations Training Workshop
- Written on Thursday, 09 April 2015 08:37
Biosciences tools can be used to address many of Africa’s agricultural challenges such as pests, diseases and climatic constraints that result in low crop yields and poor animal productivity. However, opportunities linking modern biosciences to agricultural improvement to solve some of Africa’s major agricultural problems remain largely untapped.
The BecA-ILRI Hub hosts and conducts research in crop, microbe and livestock areas where new developments in biosciences and well trained researchers can solve some intractable problems constraining Africa’s food security. For more information about the BecA-ILRI Hub please visit: http://hub.africabiosciences.org/
As part of its capacity building program, the BecA-ILRI Hub will hold a training workshop on Principles of Laboratory Management and Equipment Operations Training Workshop at the Rwanda Agricultural Board, Rubona Centre in Rwanda on the 15 - 19 June 2015.
Scope of the training workshop
Efficient management of any laboratory facility is necessary to ensure that research is quality controlled and resources are utilized cost effectively. Laboratory management practices must ensure compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks for health and safety, waste management, import and export of biological materials and biosafety. In addition the management of laboratory equipment is a core function and contributes significantly towards the success of any laboratory. Therefore, good laboratory management skills are necessary for personnel charged with management of these vital facilities.
This course aims to cover the following scope; lab design and classification, lab information management system (LIMS), lab quality control, equipment operations and maintenance. Also included are laboratory health and safety, procurement procedures, shipping of biological samples and materials transfer agreements.
Who can apply/selection criteria
The Hub is seeking applicants from eastern and central Africa region who require basics skills in laboratory management. The training is targeting Laboratory heads or supervisors, Scientists and Laboratory/research technicians. In addition, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Be nationals of BecA countries are eligible (Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda).
- Have a strong affiliation with a national agricultural research program or institution or university in any of the above BecA countries.
- Be currently engaged in agricultural biosciences research.
- Be a holder of BSc, MSc or PhD in biosciences or a related subject.
- Have a good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
- Have a letter of nomination/recommendation from head of department or institution head.
Women candidates are particularly encouraged to apply.
All those interested should fill and submit the online application available at: http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/labmanagement2015/ No other mode of application will be accepted.
The online application form must be submitted by mid-night, 8th May 2015 (Nairobi time).
Applications received after the deadline or incomplete applications will not be considered.
Successful applicants will be notified by 15th May 2015.
- The Australia Government Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through a partnership between Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the BecA-ILRI Hub.
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
- The Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.
- The Rwanda Agricultural Board
For further clarifications/ inquiries on the workshop, please contact us.
Thank you for considering this opportunity and we look forward to hearing from you.
Attachments: Concep Note IPLMEO 2015.pdf[ ]71 Kb
- Written on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 07:25
Updates to applicants
1st April 2015:
The call is now closed. All applications are currently undergoing administrative check
17th April 2015
1st internal review based on scientific content currently ongoing
- Written on Wednesday, 01 April 2015 06:20
The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, in collaboration with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Bio-innovate Africa hereby invites applications for a finger millet annotation jamboree to be held from 25 – 29 May, 2015. This workshop will focus on pre-processing, quality check, assembly and annotation of next generation sequence data for the finger millet genome. The jamboree will be conducted at the ILRI Campus, Nairobi, Kenya.
Eligibility / Applicant requirements
The workshop is generally open to PhD students and early career agricultural researchers with a strong interest in improving their bioinformatics and genomics skills. More specific applicant requirements include the following:
- African scientist with PhD or MSc in any agricultural discipline
- Fluent in English (written and spoken)
- Currently conducting agricultural biosciences research with an African national agricultural research program or university in one of the BecA countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda.
- Good working knowledge of unix command line is a requirement.
How to apply
Interested eligible scientists / researchers should apply by completing the online application form found here: http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/millet/
Participants from previous advanced bioinformatics workshops are strongly encouraged to apply.
Application deadline: 17th April 2015
Information to successful applicants: 24th April 2015
Training dates: 25th – 29th May 2015
There are few funded slots for this workshop. However, applicants who can fund their participation have an added advantage.
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Damaris Odeny,
- Written on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 08:21
The Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub, located in Nairobi, Kenya, is a shared agricultural research and biosciences platform that exists to increase access for African researchers to affordable, world-class research facilities. The mission of the BecA-ILRI Hub is “Mobilizing Bioscience for Africa’s Development” by providing a Centre of Excellence in agricultural biosciences, which enables research, capacity building and product incubation, conducted by scientists in Africa and for Africa, and empowers African institutions to harness innovations for regional impact. This mission is achieved by the BecA–ILRI Hub’s contributions to:
Research: enabling research to harness the potential of the biosciences to contribute to increasing agricultural productivity and to improving food and nutritional safety and security.
Education: contributing to the education and training of the next generation of African agricultural research leaders and scientists.
Innovation: promoting the development, delivery and adoption of new technologies to address key agricultural productivity constraints.
The BecA-ILRI Hub capacity building program is branded The Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF).The ABCF program operates in the critically important intersection between agricultural research and development (ARD), food security, and individual and institutional capacity building. The ABCF program is delivered through i) a visiting scientist program (the ABCF fellowship) targeting scientists and graduate students from African national agricultural research organizations and universities to undertake biosciences research-for-development projects at the BecA-ILRI Hub, and ii) annual training workshops to support the acquisition of practical skills in molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, laboratory management, laboratory safety, equipment maintenance, and scientific writing.
The purpose of the ABCF fellowship program is to develop capacity for agricultural biosciences research in Africa, to support research projects that ultimately contribute towards increasing food and nutritional security and / or food safety in Africa, and to facilitate access to the BecA-ILRI Hub facilities by African researchers (and their partners). We seek applicants with innovative ideas for short to medium term research projects (up to 12 months) aligned with national, regional or continental agricultural development priorities that can be undertaken at the BecA-ILRI Hub.
Areas of research
Applicants must be scientists or graduate students affiliated with a NARI or University, and conducting research in the areas of food and nutritional security or food safety in Africa. Those carrying our research in the following areas are particularly encouraged to apply*:
- Improved control of priority livestock and fish diseases including African Swine Fever (ASF); Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP); Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR); Rift Valley Fever (RVF); East Coast Fever (ECF); Capripox Virus diseases of ruminants;
- Harnessing genetic diversity for conservation, resistance to disease and improving productivity of crops and livestock and fish (livestock focus: African indigenous breeds, particularly of goats, chickens, and cavies and other small animals);
- Molecular breeding for important food security crops in Africa;
- Plant transformation to address food insecurity in Africa;
- Plant-microbe interactions;
- Tissue culture and virus indexing for production of virus-free planting materials in Africa;
- Orphan / underutilized species of crops and livestock
- Crop pests, pathogens and weed management research, including biological control;
- Microbial technology for improving adaptation of staple food crops and forages to biotic and abiotic stresses;
- Food safety, including addressing aflatoxin and other mycotoxins contamination in food and feeds;
- Nutritional analysis of food and animal feeds;
- Rapid diagnostics for crop, livestock and fish diseases;
- Genomics, bioinformatics and metagenomics including microbial discovery;
- Studies on climate-smart forage grasses and mixed livestock-crop systems;
- Microbial technology for improving adaptation of staple food crops and forages to biotic and abiotic stresses;
- Soil health in agricultural systems;
- Special opportunities also exist to connect with leading international scientists linked with the BecA-ILRI Hub in the following areas: wheat rusts, insect pests, and nitrogen fixation.
- Other special opportunities exist to connect with CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs): Livestock & Fish, Agriculture for Nutrition & Health, Humid tropics etc. Such collaboration would allow the candidate’s research to contribute more directly to an impact-oriented research-for-development agenda, and offer additional opportunities for joint activities.
*This list is not exhaustive.
- Nationals (passport holder) of a BecA-ILRI Hub target country: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. In exceptional cases we may consider applicants from other African countries.
- A researcher at a national agricultural research organization or university in a BecA-ILRI Hub target country.
- Currently engaged in research in food and nutritional security or food safety in Africa, or in a research area with relevance to agriculture in Africa.
- MSc or PhD holder in biosciences, agriculture or related subject.
- Good working knowledge of written and spoken English.
- Completed online application form.
- A signed letter of approval of the application from the head of your institute / organization/ university faculty.
We particularly welcome applications from women and less resourced NARS
What the fellowship covers
The BecA-ILRI Hub has secured funding to sponsor several fellowships on a highly competitive basis. BecA-funded fellowships will cover the following costs:
- Research at the BecA-ILRI Hub
- Medical insurance
- Living allowance
Please note that BecA-ILRI Hub-funded fellowships do not cover the cost of fieldwork or research at the applicant’s home institute.
Applicants who can fund their own research (either fully or partially) will have added advantage.
- For any inquiries / clarifications related to this call, please send email to: w.ekaya (at) cgiar.org. Responses to inquiries/clarifications will close on 27th February 2015 mid-night (East African Time).
- Closing date for applications: March 31st 2015.
- Notification to early applicants will start from March 1st 2015. The notification process will be completed by April 30th 2015 (indicative date depending on volume of applications).
- Implementation of projects: projected start time is end May 2015.
To apply for a fellowship, click on the online application link below:
Link to application form: http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/ABCF_2015/
Decision on applications
Details of successful applicants will be posted on the BecA-ILRI Website on a continuous basis until completion of the review process (indicatively 30th April 2015).
The ABCF Research Fellowship program is supported by the Australian Government through a partnership between Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) and the BecA-ILRI Hub, by the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).
For general information on the BecA-ILRI Hub visit http://hub.africabiosciences.org/aboutbecaFor information on the technologies and research-related services available at the BecA-ILRI Hub visit http://hub.africabiosciences.org/activities/services
Regional Aflatoxin control organization recognizes role of Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub in fighting aflatoxins
- Written on Saturday, 21 March 2015 11:04
From 17-18 February 2015, the sixth Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) Steering Committee Meeting made site visits across Africa to engage with regional stakeholders and learn about each country’s efforts to mitigate aflatoxin.
Among the sites visited was the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi Kenya which hosts a number of continental initiatives towards the control of aflatoxin contamination of maize including the Storage and Drying for Aflatoxin Control Project (AflaSTOP). The Steering Committee members appreciated the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and the result-oriented regional efforts at BecA-ILRI Hub and the progress being made by the AflaSTOP project.
An article published in the PACA newsletter of February 2015 following this visit, highlights the BecA-ILRI Hub's support to many African scientists and their partners in amplifying their efforts to improve nutritional security and food safety in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Following stakeholder consultation and analysis, the BecA-ILRI Hub aflatoxin research team, through an Australian government funded partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), established a shared research and capacity building laboratory and team of experts to fill the gap caused by a scarcity of laboratories equipped to adequately tackle the issue of aflatoxins in the region.
Since its establishment in 2011, the platform has hosted work of more than sixty researchers, from seven African countries, Australia, Europe and North America. Collectively, the community around the laboratory has made initial assessments of aflatoxin contamination in a number of African countries, conducted the first inoculated field trials in the region to identify maize varieties less susceptible to aflatoxin accumulation, developed models estimating aflatoxin risk at harvest, and produced a range of other important findings and tools which are beginning to reach end users to help ensure safer food and feed for Africa.
A further dimension of vibrancy and capacity has been infused by the range of other projects currently hosted in the laboratory. These include the AflaSTOP project, led by Sophie Walker, ACDI/VOCA and Agribusiness Systems International; the Aflatoxin Proficiency Testing for Eastern and Central Africa (APTECA) project, led by Tim Herrman, Professor, State Chemist and Director, Texas A&M Agrilife Research, which has achieved ISO 17025 accreditation of aflatoxin testing in the BecA-ILRI Hub lab; the MyDairy project in collaboration with Professor Erastus Kang’ethe, University of Nairobi and various CG Research Programs Agriculture for Nutrition and Health projects led by Dr Delia Grace (ILRI); and a number of others led by researchers from African institutes.
Download the PACA Newsletter here: PACA Newsletter - February 2015
- Written on Friday, 20 March 2015 11:02
The decoding of the tsetse fly’s genome to reveal the genes responsible for its peculiar reproductive and feeding habits opened up new frontiers in dealing with the devastating trypanosome parasite it transmits. The tsetse fly is the sole vector for the parasite which causes sleeping sickness in people and livestock putting an estimated 70 million people in sub-Saharan Africa at risk every year and rendering livestock keeping almost impossible in some parts of the continent.
Unlike other insects, tsetse fly females get pregnant with a single young which is nourished and develops inside the body of the parent with "milk" secreted from special glands. Only eight to ten are produced during the lifecycle of a female tsetse fly, compared to the thousands of eggs laid by a female mosquito over her life span. These insects also rely on proline, an amino acid that is a constituent of most proteins, as their source of energy unlike other insects which utilize different forms of carbohydrates.
From 15-21 March 2015, a team of scientists from across the world are gathered at the Biotechnology Research Institute-Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (BRI-KALRO) to compare the genomes of five tsetse species and determine the genetic factors responsible for their peculiar nutrition and reproduction as well as their vectorial capacity. The workshop to give in-depth meaning to the genome sequences of tsetse flies was convened by the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and BRI-KALRO, in collaboration with the Biosciences eastern and central Africa -International Livestock Research Institute Hub(BecA-ILRI) Hub; African Insect Science for Food and health (icipe); the Center for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics –University of Nairobi (CEBIB-UoN); and South African National Bioinformatics Institute (SANBI).
The scientists including Lorna Jemosop from Kenya, Tania Bishola from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Abraham Mayoke from Congo Brazzaville whose participation was facilitated by the BecA-ILRI Hub, are annotating the genes associated with chemosensation and vision, immunity, reproductive physiology, horizontal transfer events, digestion, salivary biology, regulatory systems and more.
The hands-on annotation efforts are being accompanied by topical lectures on the different physiologies given by experts in these fields including BecA-ILRI Hub bioinformatics post-doctoral scientist, Mark Wamalwa.
Australian envoy to Kenya visits Australian funded agricultural research programs at the BecA-ILRI Hub
- Written on Friday, 20 March 2015 07:37
The Head of Mission at the Australian High Commission in Kenya, HE John Feakes visited ILRI on 11 March 2015 to acquaint himself with various agricultural research programs funded by the Australian Government through the partnership between BecA-ILRI Hub and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO.
During the visit, HE Feakes who was accompanied by Dr Paul Greener, Senior Specialist - Agricultural Productivity and Markets at Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and key link in the BecA-CSIRO partnership, held discussions with the ILRI director general, Jimmy Smith. Thereafter, he met with BecA-ILRI Hub staff and project partners to get an overview of the partnership; the research projects; and the capacity building activities.
While at the Hub, HE Feakes took a tour of the lab facilities and was able to see the nutrition and mycotoxin analytical laboratory that was established in 2011 through the BecA-CSIRO partnership and which has since hosted work of more than 60 researchers, from seven African countries, Australia, Europe and North America, significantly increasing the capacity for mycotoxin research on the continent.
HE Feakes also met with research fellows conducting their research at the BecA-ILRI Hub under the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund fellowship program which is co-funded by the Australian and Swedish Governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.
- Written on Friday, 27 February 2015 10:43
The Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub seeks to strengthen the capacity of the African scientific community to conduct bioscience research that will improve agricultural products and enhance food security in the region. As part of its capacity building programme, the BecA-ILRI Hub will hold a training workshop on introductory molecular biology and bioinformatics from 11th to 22nd May 2015.
This call seeks applicants from eastern and central Africa who require basic skills in molecular biology and bioinformatics to support their research. Graduate students and early career researchers will be selected based on evidence of productive scholarship and research; relevance of the workshop to current research; and engagement in agricultural research within a national research institute or university. Selected participants will attend an intensive 10-day training workshop at the BecA-ILRI Hub in Nairobi, Kenya, with complimentary lectures and hands-on training in genomic DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing and bioinformatics among others. Participants will also experience the research discovery process: potentially novel DNA sequences acquired by each participant will be analyzed and discussed during the bioinformatics sessions.
- A national of one of the BecA countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda;
- Affiliated with a national research program or university in the BecA region;
- Currently engaged in biosciences research BSc, MSc or PhD (or higher) in biological sciences;
- Good working knowledge of written and spoken English
Experts in molecular biology and bioinformatics from the BecA-ILRI Hub and research partners will deliver the training. The training workshop has been organized in partnership with the African Research Consortium for Ecosystem and Population Health (Afrique One). Further details about this training workshop are available at the following links:
- Download concept note here: Introductory molecular biology and bioinformatics concept note
- Online application form: http://hpc.ilri.cgiar.org/beca/training/Applications/IMBB_2015/index.html
About Afrique One
Created in 2009 with the financial support of the Wellcome Trust ranking to 5 millions GBP over 5 years, the consortium Afrique One is made up of 11 core African research centers including universities, and three global partners from the north (University of Bergen-Norway, Swiss TPH-Switzerland, University of Glasgow-United Kingdom) which have been building their collective human and technical capacities through structured and well integrated training and investment programmes.
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