Genetic Engineering using Animal Model and Plants Towards African Innovation

Through AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project under JICA, Ms. Grace Kimani from Biochemistry Department in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, undertook a two months training in Okayama University to enhance her laboratory skills. During the training she visited various laboratories and other research institutions in Japan as part of the exposure to other research activities. AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project is a Joint Initiative involving JKUAT, PAUSTI and JICA. The Project aims to empower and motivate human resource for industrial development in the areas of Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa.

Harvesting of body organs and tissues during the training

Mr. Patrick Juma and Mr. Martin Mburu, Research Fellows in AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project, had a chat with her, on her experience, achievements and expectations from the short term training.

Mr. Juma & Mr. Mburu: What was the aim of the training?

Ms. Kimani: The short term training was focusing on the area of Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering, especially using animal cells. The objectives of the training was clear and the training itself met the set objectives. In particular, I learnt about tissues and organs harvesting, DNA/RNA extraction, histological and cytological analysis and immunohistochemistry.

Was the training useful?

Yes, the training was very useful especially when conducting practicals for students related to molecular biology. “I had a chance to practically try out some of the concepts I had only mastered theoretically. It has given me the confidence to effectively guide researchers and students on various procedures within molecular biology,” Ms. Kimani said. This kind of training brings together highly specialized multidisciplinary personnel, equipment and skills improvement, all under one roof. It allows for high level research, and therefore such trainings should be adopted in JKUAT/PAUSTI for developing both teaching and technical staff.

Ms. Grace Kimani conducting experiments during the training

What was interesting about the training?

Indeed, the whole training was very interesting. But the most important part was the organization of the institution, commitment of the trainers and availability of training facilities and chemical reagents. These three attributes combined enabled smooth implementation of the training activities.  If such was to implemented back here at JKUAT, we would be world class research institution.

What aspect of the training could be improved?

The duration of the course. It should be given more time for the training for one to gather more information and skills. The two months period does not allow for effective interaction and proper engagement between the trainers and the trainee.

How do you hope to change your practice as result of the training?

The training I received will benefit students and even other technicians. As we interact, I will share the knowledge with fellow technicians and researchers. The training will also help improve the practicals delivery part of the students training in the Department of Biochemistry.

Ms. Grace Kimani demonstrates how to use Real Time PCR machine to PAUSTI students