I am a lecturer at Plateau State University and also the chief scientific officer of Phage biology and therapeutic hub, a non-profit focused on isolating phages and phage biobanks for the global phage community. I am interested in answering the question, how does climate change increase the fitness of environmental yeasts to make them more virulent? I am the PI at the Centre for phage biology and therapeutics, a centre focused on phage awareness campaigns as well as serving as a phage bank. I am also one of the co-lead for the Africa Phage forum; the umbrella body for all phage researchers in Africa
Secure funding, mentorship on how to run execute an impactful altruistic movement
If you have any questions about working in a resource-limited setting and wondering how to adapt the western idea to resource-limited settings.
Discovering new antibiotics takes a long time and requires huge investment. That is why the interest in phage therapy is growing.
Thanks for your comment. Yes! The recent disability-adjusted life-years projection for drug resistance just released showed a total of 4·95 million deaths associated with bacterial AMR in 2019, including 1·27 million deaths attributable to bacterial AMR. At the regional level, we estimated the all-age death rate attributable to resistance to be highest in western sub-Saharan Africa, at 27·3 deaths per 100 000 . Six pathogens contributed to the largest burden of AMR in 2019 (E coli, S aureus, K pneumoniae, S pneumoniae, A baumannii, and P aeruginosa) have been identified as priority pathogens by WHO. My goal is to isolate, characterize and have ready-for-use phage products in the store for use against these pathogens in Nigeria.
This is also important to the global community, because of the exchange of phages. For example, in Dhanvi's story, a 7-year-old girl is scheduled for amputation as a result of drug resistance. The Australian group reached out to the global community for help with phages that is specific for the bacteria infecting Dhanvi, this was found in Israel and coincidentally had sent the phages to the US for use. The phage was used to save her legs.
An interesting piece. I live and work in Nigeria. I have always argued that what is effective and good is relative.causes that are considered “effective” by the west may not make meaning to us. What I have observed, I have worked as a consultant to some international NGOs working in Nigeria. You see figures sent to the donors so that money will keep coming. No real impact.
I suggest that even when considering grant applications, EA should consider having someone from LMIC look at grant applications and charities. For example, the level of poverty and hunger in Nigeria is so high that any animal and welfare charity will be resisted to a stop.
Thank you for sharing this. I am a professor and I reside in Nigeria. I've also interacted with a number of colleagues from my own nation. You'll see that many of them believe they can't compete with their Western colleagues. You may imagine that funders will believe that the person from the west will perform better and be more likely to receive funding if, for instance, someone from LMIC and the west propose wastewater surveillance as a technique to monitor the environment for important infections. So far I have had 100% rejection with EA funds and open philanthropy fellowships. The mentorship component appears to be fascinating. My opinion is this, EA should consider strengthening Mentorship for LMICs to help solve the problem of capacity, or proposing ideas that look a good fit as well as solving problems of inferiority following a series of rejections.
If you are interested in mentoring a faculty member from LMIC to pursue a cause that is global and relevant to the EA goals, kindly reach out via DM. I will be glad to talk with you.
Thanks, NickLaing for your kind words.
I have a different view about the success of phage therapy in Africa. It may interest you to know that this has gained traction lately. In 2020, along with other phage researchers in Kenya and Uganda, we formed the Africa Phage forum (APF). APF has done considerably well in driving phage research in Africa, you can find our latest pre-print here.
Are phages worth researching in Africa? Are Phage banks worth the investment? Will it yield fruit?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we waited for the west to spare us some vaccines. The narrative has to change, we need to prepare for pandemics, and we need to have the capacity to tackle our problems. Antimicrobial resistance is a huge problem in Africa and Africa must lead in her own battle. APF has been systematic, currently, Nigeria and Kenya are working towards formulating a framework for Phage therapy adoption. In a sense its yields fruit. Hopefully, with the right funding and support, Nigeria will treat her first patient with Phages next year(I am working hard to get this done. Clinicians in Nigeria are being sensitized to adopt phages. In Kenya, Phages have been formulated for Salmonellosis in poultry, field trials start next year.
Do we need a phage bank in Africa?
Yes! A phage bank in Africa is not only for Africa. In Australia, they treated a patient with phages from phages isolated and banked in Israel. We need phages across the world. This will guarantee phage effectiveness across the globe. What will a phage bank achieve, aside from storing phages, a phage bank will solve the infrastructure problem associated with research in Africa. A lab that can isolate, characterize, sequence and store phages will surely meet the global standards needed for phage innovation.
"I can't think of any vaccine, medication or test which has been innovated This may be due to a range of factors like poor education systems, poor infrastructure and most importantly I think horrendous beauracracies which stifle talent like yours and have no agility. "
Sadly yes, I have been looking for funding for my lab, it's been almost so difficult securing such funds. However, I am hopeful. My long-term goal is to reverse this trend. Get phage therapy to solve common problems. My PhD student currently works on formulating phages for the treatment of Typhoid fever as well as a water treatment solution(Phagebased). Wish me well to get funded soon. The infrastructure issue should be taken seriously.
Thanks for your kind words. For those that found this offensive, I am sorry. I felt overwhelmed by the current situation of things. The other day a student was killed on campus, another raped. Gory sights. What will you do when you see this as passion I.e Impacting knowledge. Yet there is little or nothing to do to help this current situation. Hence the overwhelming feeling. Maybe EA can consider taking the issue of education of students at risk as a cause.
Thanks for your kind words. I really do need them. The state of things are not really looking good at the moment. Life of students are at risk. The university is shut down at a particular time. The students can’t get quality education. I am looking for ways to help my students not to miss out despite the insecurity. Thank you once again
I am not a medical doctor, but I live in Nigeria. As a lecturer, I have had opportunity to be trained for my PhD benchwork at Duke University, USA. This experience gave me a clue as to the difference between the western world and the low and midsummer income countries like Nigeria. The gap is wide and the differences are huge.
The poor economic situation in Nigeria has necessitated mass exodus of Professionals(Medical Doctors, Nurses, Lecturers) everyone wants to leave to a better economy that pays well.
I support the fact that western by default idea not be seen as good and may not make the desired “good” impacts required in these countries. I also suggest that fund managers with a good knowledge of the African culture should be recruited to help evaluate causes from Africa
Antibiotic resistance is predicted to cause 10 million deaths yearly by the year 2050, with 90% of these fatalities occurring in Africa and Asia. In both industrialized and developing nations, antibiotic resistance in bacteria is currently seen as a major public health threat in the twenty-first century. Phages are emerging as an alternative to save lives. This is a path to explore. Phages can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments to treat both bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and those that can be cured. Phages grow and reproduce on their own throughout therapy (just one dosage may be required), barely affecting the body's normal "good" microbes. Phages are widespread and simple to find in nature. They neither harm the body nor poison it. They don't hurt the environment, wildlife, or vegetation.
We started working on phages here in Nigeria and leading the movement to advance phage research in Africa as a means to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Africa's reliance on western aid to fight the pandemic is backfiring. We need to take our destiny into our hands. Hence we need to start isolating phages, storing them and evaluating them for use in animals and humans to save lives. This is a cause I would be interested in supporting
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
Flow cells a single flow cell would cost 900 USD while a group of 12 will cost 9480
To upgrade to p2 solo sequencing plateform will cost 11000 USD including custom clearance while the flow cell will cost 10500 USD
Library kits barcoding kit 1000 USD(includes custom clearance charges) for 6 reactions. For upto 30 reactions that will be 5000 USD
Qubit for quantification of DNA will cost about 5000 USD
Grants I have applied for in EA infrastructure
I am currently waiting to get a decision on my application to purchase laptops to enable me to train students in bioinformatics.
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
Lastly, I want to be able to pay students school fees