A University of Ghana (UG) delegation led by the Vice-Chancellor (VC) Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu has completed a visit to the National Institute of Genetics (NIG) in Japan to boost the university’s emerging programmes in genetics research and training. The VC was accompanied by Professor Solomon Ofori-Acquah, Dean, School of Biomedical and Allied Sciences and Centre Leader of the new West African Genetic Medicine Centre (WAGMC), and Professor Boniface Kayang, Head, Department of Animal Science. The visit is the culmination of several years of collaboration fostered by Prof. Kayang with researchers in Kyoto University and more recently with NIG.
The UG team toured several laboratories in NIG and interacted with investigators working on a range of genetics topics in zebra fish, rice and cancer. A ceremony celebrating a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two institutions was the highlight of the visit. In their presentations, the NIG Director-General, Professor Fumio Hanaoka, and the VC provided overviews of research and educational activities in the two institutions. Professor Ofori-Acquah provided an overview of the SickleGenAfrica Project and WAGMC while Professor Kayang discussed strategies to improve grasscutter breeding in Ghana. Professors Tsuyoshi Koide and Ituro Inoue of NIG presented their research on sequencing of the grasscutter genome and genomics of endometriosis respectively.
In brief remarks before signing the MOU, the VC said that although UG has partnerships with many overseas universities, it enjoys a special bond with Japanese institutions where a large number of UG faculty including many in leadership positions have trained. The VC stressed the need for investigators and faculty of the two institutions to leverage the MOU to transform research and training in genetics, and not to allow the document to gather dust in institutional archives. The Director-General intimated that NIG is dedicated to the integration of theory and applied research in genetics and it has produced many outstanding scientific achievements in the field. These achievements have made NIG a major global player in all aspects of genomics including bioinformatics and big data. He said that NIG is keen to collaborate with UG to champion new discoveries to improve human welfare. The MOU provides the framework for faculty and student exchanges, and research collaborations between the two institutions. All units in UG are encouraged to take advantage of the resources and expertise at NIG to bolster their research. The immediate benefits of the MOU include strengthening of ongoing collaborations between NIG and the Department of Animal Science, and the Livestock and Poultry Research Centre (LIPREC), and new collaborations in human genetics between NIG and WAGMC. The MOU ceremony was attended by faculty and students of NIG, the UG delegation, and Dr. Christopher Adenyo, a Research Fellow at LIPREC who is currently conducting grasscutter genomics research at the Japanese institute.
Seated (left to right): Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu and Professor Fumio Hanaoka. Standing (left to right): Professor Tsuyoshi Koide, Dr. Christopher Adenyo, Professor Solomon Ofori-Acquah, Professor Boniface Kayang and Professor Ituro Inoue.