Hide table of contents


This essay sheds light on the challenges faced by academics working in public institutions in Nigeria, aiming to provide insight into the limited impact of research in the Nigerian context. Aiming to answer the question, why are we not as impactful as expected? It emphasizes the experiences of researchers from resource-limited situations, with a focus on my personal journey as a Nigerian researcher.



I graduated from Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka with a Ph.D. in medical microbiology. Currently, I am a lecturer at Plateau State University, Bokkos, Nigeria. In order to finish my Ph.D. study, I spent three months conducting Ph.D. benchwork at Duke University in the United States. I was fortunate to get local funding for my doctorate from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, which enabled me to travel to Duke for my doctorate. Not everyone is that fortunate. People just very rarely receive sponsorship for post-graduate education in our Nigerian setting. Most people finance their postgraduate education on their own. 


You must pay both your school fees and your research expenses as a postgraduate student in Nigeria. I've begun supervising both undergraduate and graduate students. What I saw at Duke and what I have heard from developed universities is that university supervisors provide their students with research labs and consumables through grants They also offer assistance through post-doctoral training programs after receiving a PhD. 

The ordinary postgraduate student here is not like that. What ground-breaking outcomes or depth of study will self-funding enable? On the other hand, few students are fortunate enough to receive collaboration for their projects either directly or through the assistance of their supervisors. In my experience as a supervisor, the university system offers me zero financial assistance for my students' projects. 


What is it like to do research here?

Although my experience might not be representative of all academics in Nigeria. It can be used to illustrate what it's like to conduct research in a Nigerian university and what it's like to hold a professorial position there.  Very few scholars focus on a certain topic or element. For example. specialist in the development of bacterial cell walls. or something else. The majority of the time, you will find a lecturer's research articles dispersed throughout many areas. What causes this? As a medical microbiologist, I have published in the fields of mycology, virology, and global warming. At the beginning of my work, while pursuing my Masters degree, I isolated Candida africana with the intention of concentrating on it and thoroughly examining its biology and pathology. 


Because there are no labs in the nation that can do this kind of research, it was not possible. I so gave up on the research part. I then proceeded on to my doctoral work, where I examined the molecular characterization of the environmental Cryptococcus neoformans. This research was at Duke University. When I got home, I had a ton of questions, such as: What causes the genetic diversity of C. neoformans in Nigeria? What impact has rising temperatures had on this species' evolution of virulence? . Rarely will you find a lab where "ordinary" PCR can be performed. How are consumables purchased? Electricity is a problem. I came to the realization that I could neither pursue these inquiries in Nigeria nor the biology of this fungus. If I must continue studying this pathogen, I will be limited to studying its genotype and epidemiology (which requires cooperation with international labs).


I started looking at how environmental infections are responding to climate change while seeking for relevant research. My hypothesis is that as a result of climate change, environmental diseases will grow more aggressive and target humans (using Candida auris as an illustration; it was the first successful pathogen to emerge from the environment as a result of climate change). Again, this hasn't been simple. My lab hardly ever has continuous power for more than six hours every day. How do I  incubate a pathogen for  48 hours at a high temperature? This field of study is still active for me though as i keep looking for funds. 


My lab is now investigating phage therapy (Phages are viruses that feed on bacteria). Infections caused by bacteria can be treated with it. It significantly contributes to addressing the issue of medication resistance in both people and animals. It will be quite beneficial, in my opinion. Once more, power and the capacity to sequence these phages present difficulties. 


Funding is a major issue. I attempt to submit applications to at least 4-5 different funding sources each year. Including EA funds. I have had a nearly 0% of success rate. I utilize my salary's own funds as a result. I currently make around 270 USD per month. Without receiving any compensation, I am normally expected to use this money to fund my research, publish in journals with high-impact factors (some of which can cost up to $2,000 USD), and look after my family. How much of an impact can I possibly make trouh research?  The fact that we haven't received our salary since January 2023 only makes things worse.


So few positives

Emergent Ventures just helped me build up a phage lab. It was similar to beginning a brand-new lab. Every piece of equipment required for the lab has to be purchased by me. Although there is not enough money, we have made some headway in buying certain equipment. We hope to get funding for solar energy to find a solution to the electrical issue, after which we can purchase supplies for post-graduate students' studies. 

The lab's objective is to provide postgraduate students from Universities across Nigeria with a workspace they can do as much of their research as they can. in an effort to have an impact. My doctoral student is currently researching phages to combat salmonella typhi. Two phages against S. typhi have been identified, and we intend to investigate their effectiveness in a mouse model.


So far, supervising undergraduate students have been quite exciting. My student reported the first genotype of Phytophthora infestans from Nigeria. 




Researchers from Nigeria and most LMICs are not lazy but handicapped. The frustration needed to make an impact through research is limited. I will be glad to hear about how you think this situation can be improved or if you have any word of advice that will be welcomed also. How can EA help in improving this situation? If however you are considering areas to help boost research in Nigeria and some LMICs. You can support our laboratories. I am available for discussion. 

In my mind how can I make the most good with the prevailing situation like this that seem not to be improving? I will like to hear from experienced people and any other person that has a solution. 


Also, if you know how I can get funding, or if you will like to collaborate with me in applying for funding? Please feel free to reach out


Let us engage in discussions, seek innovative solutions, and collaborate across borders to create an environment where researchers in resource-limited settings can thrive and make significant contributions to scientific knowledge and societal development. Together, we can transform the research landscape and unlock the untapped potential of researchers from Nigeria and other LMICs.


More posts like this

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 2:49 PM

Could you give us a sense of (roughly) what might be possible with various amounts of money? E.g., how much for the solar energy project, how much for supplies for post-graduate students' studies, grants you had applied for, or other things you'd like to do? I think most of us from Western countries have a very vague sense of how much stuff costs in Nigeria and our guesses are probably pretty wrong in one direction or another.

Thanks Jason for reading my post and for commenting. I am encouraged by this act of kindness. Commenting encourages one to write more. If you know of funds I can apply to or will be willing to discuss further with. I will be glad to talk with them.

For example, to get a 3kva solar system here in Nigeria would cost between 5000 USD - 10000 USD. This will include the solar panel, batteries, inverter and installation.

Supplies for Post-graduate students: This depends on the project. However majorly, one thing that is lacking here is ability to sequence isolates and the bioinformatics. I would like to provide the platform for students to be able to sequence their organisms as well as learn the bioinformatics aspect.

So in terms of consumables

My lab has two Nanopore sequencers: Consumables for Nanopore sequencing includes

  1. Flow cells a single flow cell would cost 900 USD while a group of 12 will cost 9480

  2. To upgrade to p2 solo sequencing plateform will cost 11000 USD including custom clearance while the flow cell will cost 10500 USD

  3. Library kits barcoding kit 1000 USD(includes custom clearance charges) for 6 reactions. For upto 30 reactions that will be 5000 USD

  4. Qubit for quantification of DNA will cost about 5000 USD

Grants I have applied for in EA infrastructure

  1. I am currently waiting to get a decision on my application to purchase laptops to enable me to train students in bioinformatics.

  2. Once applied to setup a phage bank as well as to be able to track the spread of anti microbial resistant genes in the environment

What I will like to do:

I believe a functional phage bank will have a lot of impact in the health outcome in Nigeria. Why do I think so, I was discussing with a clinician few weeks ago, he told he about a patient he lost because in plateau state there isn’t any capacity to identify pathogens and characterize them. They treated blindly with all manner of antibiotics.

A functional phage lab should be able to identify pathogens(sequencing is the gold standard) and produce phage a for the pathogen.

I hope to be able to constantly isolate phages and store them and be able to make these phages available to the phage community in Nigeria and beyond. Phage sharing is the key to effective phage therapy. To be able to do that one needs a robust phage isolation and purification system

I once applied for grants to allow me visit the phage lab in Belgium to understudy them.

For a robust phage lab(my lab has the basic phage equipments)

We will need

  1. Ultra filtration centrifuge 30000-50000 USD
  2. Media and filters - 10000 USD
  3. Freeze dryer

Lastly, I want to be able to pay students school fees

Thanks -- that is really helpful. Although I have little experience in such things, I know that the potential players can differ based on the amount you're seeking.

One quick thought that comes to mind is whether you could package parts of this and pitch it to donors and foundations interested in science (or "STEM") education. In other words, rather than emphasizing the benefits of learning about phages to those donors, you would make the grant proposal to them focus on how the supplies will help further about training the next generation of microbiologists in Nigeria.

If your ability to apply for more grants is primarily limited by how much time you have, would it be feasible to hire a graduate student to help you submit more grant proposals? Obviously, you would need funding to hire a part-time assistant, but it's possible that would be inexpensive enough that more donors might be interested in funding the expansion of your grantwriting efforts, even if they don't have the capacity to give 5-10K for one the items on your list.