The AAS and its partners organized the second mentoring workshop on Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine for young African Scientists in Nairobi from 4 - 6 August 2014.
The young scientists from across Africa are being mentored in ways of using regenerative medicine or stem cell therapy to help prevent the increasing cases of non- communicable diseases.
The goal of the workshop was to develop knowledge and skills in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine among the selected African scientists and provided an opportunity for networking with a multidisciplinary team of experts from the African continent and other leading middle-income countries particularly China, Brazil, and India.
Statistics from the World Health Oganisation indicate that 80 percent of deaths today are from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cancer. WHO projects NCDs to be the leading cause of death and disability in all regions of the world by 2030.
It is for this reason that the three day mentoring workshop was organized as part of the AAS mandate to develop the capacity of young African Scientists in this frontier science.
Prof Aderemi Kuku, the AAS President said in a speech read on his behalf that the AAS is committed to promote science and technology for development in Africa.
The Executive Director of AAS, Prof Berhanu Abegaz also added that the academy hopes to increase its efforts in this field to improve understanding of regenerative medicine to address health concerns that are specifically relevant to Africa.
He added that stem cell therapy could help in effective treatment of NCDs and increased effort in this direction needs the support of all.
Prof. Omu Anzala, Director, the Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) said time has come for Africa to be involved.
He disclosed that the University of Nairobi will commence stem cell projects in five months’ time. Prof. Anzala concedes that lack of interest and limited funding has been the main handicap stunting the development of stem cell therapy in the African continent.
Prof. Zul Premji, chairperson of the Aga Khan University Department of Pathology explains that the whole idea is to reduce chronic treatment of diseases. Instead of transplant, one’s own stem cells can be used to replace any organ that is failing.
Key resource persons at the mentoring and training workshop included Prof Dorairajan Balasubramanian, Director of Research, L. V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad, India; Prof. Vivaldo Moura-Neto, Director of the Cellular Morphogenesis Laboratory, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Dr. Anjali Shiras, National Centre for Cell Sciences, India; Prof Omu Anzala, KAVI-Institute of Clinical Research, Kenya; Prof Susan H. Kidson, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Dr Venant Tchokonte-Nana, Stellenbosch University, South Africa; and Dr Hiba B.K. Ahmed, Al Neelain University, Sudan.
This mentoring and training workshop is the second to be held by AAS. The first one was organized in 2013. The workshop was funded by IAP – The Global Network of Science Academies, the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and the Kenya National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI).