Visit by the communications team from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Joanne Driels (Project Coordinator, Foundation Communications at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) and other colleagues from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation visited the BecA Hub and affiliated CG Centers on 29 October to discuss ongoing projects and learn more about BecA.

Jagger Harvey featured in Science Magazine

jaggerharveylab_600x440.jpgJagger Harvey is an American scientist currently working in Kenya on crop research at the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub, an initiative hosted and managed by the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi.

He was born in 1975 in Port-au-Prince where his mother's family is from. She was made a U.S. citizen when she was a teenager living in the states. Her son was registered as a U.S. citizen born abroad. His father's family is from Seattle, and he shuttled to and from Haiti to Seattle, Washington, yearly as a child. His parents eventually settled in Bethesda, Maryland, where he stayed through high school.

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Welcoming Cyrus Too!

Mr Cyrus Too has joined the Biosciences eastern and central Africa-International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub as the Greenhouse Supervisor.

Cyrus joins us from the floriculture industry where he worked in various capacities as a propagation officer, production officer and a tissue culture production manager. He holds a BSc in Horticulture from Egerton University.

Letter from the Director

Dear friends of the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub,

With your support, 2008 was an exciting year of growth and expanding possibility for the BecA-International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Hub. The BecA initiative is strengthening capacity for biosciences research in Africa and improving products that enhance the livelihoods of farmers in the region. Hosted and managed by ILRI, the BecA Hub is open for use by African scientists and students from national research institutes and universities in Africa, by ILRI biotechnology research teams and their partners in Africa and internationally, and by other Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centers and their partners.

Visit by Professors from University of Glasgow, UK

Professor Peter Holmes, Vice-Principal of Research at the University of Glasgow, UK and Professor Mike Turner, Division of Infection and Immunity, Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences and Wellcome Centre for Molecular Parasitology, University of Glasgow, UK, visited the BecA-ILRI Hub on Friday 20th February for information on BecA activities and to see the research and training facilities.

Welcoming Rebecca Nelson!

Dr Rebecca Nelson joined the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) Hub as a Visiting Scientist. Rebecca is at BecA on a five month sabbatical leave from Cornell University. At BecA, she continues to serve as the Scientific Director of The McKnight Foundation's Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP), which recently received a $26.7 million Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand the CCRP.

Welcoming Jagger Harvey!

Dr Jagger Harvey joined the BecA Hub as a Plant Biosciences Research Scientist in January, 2009. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, he speaks English, French and Creole. He is a molecular biologist with particular interest in plant genetics and plant-microbe interactions. His life’s ambition is to sustainably improve subsistence farmer crops; specifically, he uses environmentally sensitive strategies that directly involve developing world scientists, thereby bolstering scientific research capacity. He catalyzes synergistic partnerships between developing and developed world scientists, universities and other organizations.

BecA researchers find more accurate test for sleeping sickness

BecA Hub Scientists have developed new assays that significantly reduce the labour, time and cost of carrying out polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which drastically reduces the labour, time and cost of carrying out standard PCR tests — opening the way for large-scale studies. 

Interview with the Boss

Segenet Kelemu (PhD) is the Director of Biosciences East and Central Africa (BecA) Hub, located at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nairobi, Kenya. Dr Segenet Kelemu is a renowned scientist who has published widely referenced journals, book contributions, manuals, conference/workshop papers, working documents, and others. She has supervised many graduate and undergraduate students from several countries. During her career as a scientist, she has made a number of key scientific discoveries. Her professional services include: Member, Editorial Board, Plant Pathology Journal; Member, Steering Committee, System-wide Program on Integrated Pest Management (till 2007); Member, American Phytopathological Society Ad Hoc Committee on the Future Education of Plant Pathologists; Member, Governing Board, International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS).

Visit by Dr. Joanne Daly, Group Executive, Agribusiness, CSIRO

Dr. Joanne Daly,  Group Executive, Agribusiness, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia, visited the ILRI/BECA hub to discuss partnerships.

CSIRO Agribusiness Group has the responsibility for research in the agri-food and fiber industries and the human health sector.

Visit by participants of major conference

Participants of the recently-concluded 1st All Africa Congress on Biotechnology, which was organized by Agricultural Biotechnology Network in Africa (ABNETA) through its parent organization, the African Biotechnology Stakeholders Forum (ABSF), paid a courtesy call to the BecA-ILRI Hub. Dr Rob Skilton, a Research Support Scientist with the BecA-ILRI Hub, addressed them.

Welcoming Beatrice Abade!

Beatrice Abade, a Kenyan national, joins us as a Programme Management Officer from The World Bank office in Kenya where she has been supporting the team working on Education and HIV&AIDS. Ms Abade holds a Masters in Business Administration from Moi University and Bachelor’s degree in Education and French from Kenyatta University. She has also holds a certificate in Management from Strathmore University and a higher diploma in Commercial French from Alliance Française.

African agriculture

Agricultural scientists in Africa are pinning some hopes on genetic engineering to help feed a hungry continent.
Head of Biosciences research in eastern and central Africa, Dr Segenet Kelemu says things like g-m maize that can grow through droughts; B-T cotton, resistant to pests, and nutritionally enhanced grain are just some examples.

New tools for bioinformatics teaching

The eBioUSB used for the course

For the third year, the ILRI/BecA EMBNet node organized an introductory course in Bioinformatics at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) campus in Nairobi, Kenya. The objective was to introduce young scientists from east and central Africa to use bioinformatics/computational biology in their research and to present some of the biological resources available on the ILRI-BECA bioinformatics platform.


During 8–14 June 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya, CIMMYT, IITA, ICRISAT, and Biosciences Eastern and Central Africa (BecA) jointly conducted the workshop “Molecular Breeding Capacity Building” for 22 maize and sorghum breeders working throughout sub-Saharan Africa. It was supported by the Generation Challenge Program and the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Project. The workshop’s objectives were to discuss the overall opportunities for and constraints on applying marker-assisted selection (MAS), including aspects of genomics, genetics and biometrics, and to strengthen the maize and sorghum molecular breeding communities of practice in Africa.

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