SOUTH AFRICA—The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., an American supplier of life sciences solutions and biotechnology services, have inked a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to collaborate on establishing a Centre of Excellence and training program in the field of molecular biology and life sciences in South Africa.

The primary objective of this collaboration is to tackle the challenges faced by the African continent in enhancing the skills of graduates and laboratory personnel, particularly in practical applications and exposure to cutting-edge technologies in molecular biology and life sciences.

The Centre of Excellence, slated for launch in September 2024, will be headquartered in Pretoria. It will focus on delivering accredited learning modules and training programs covering general laboratory practice, theoretical science, bioinformatics, laboratory management, finance processes, and soft skills development.

Under the terms of the agreement, Thermo Fisher will furnish the necessary consumables and instruments for the Centre of Excellence, while SAMRC will recruit and support student attendance at the Centre, offering financial assistance and accommodation where applicable.

Both entities will collaborate on developing a certified training program curriculum, leveraging Thermo Fisher’s technical expertise in the sector.

During the signing ceremony, Prof Glenda Gray, SAMRC President and CEO, underscored that by pooling the resources, expertise, and knowledge of both SAMRC and Thermo Fisher, the Centre aims to expedite the development of skilled laboratory professionals and bolster capacity within the continent.

In her remarks, Urmi Prasad Richardson, Thermo Fisher’s President for Europe Middle East and Africa, emphasized that this collaboration is integral to Thermo Fisher’s Global Health Equity (GHE) initiative, which focuses on fortifying infrastructure and addressing public health concerns related to infectious diseases in low and middle-income countries.

Richardson further explained that by partnering with key stakeholders like SAMRC, Thermo Fisher aims to positively impact the lives of young scientists in Africa and revolutionize the training landscape and laboratory expertise on the continent.

Established in 1969, SAMRC is tasked with enhancing the health and quality of life of South Africans, achieved through research, development, and technology transfer.

The organization’s research projects focus on tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular and noncommunicable diseases, gender and health, and alcohol and other drug abuse.

With a strategic objective to bolster the country’s health systems, SAMRC operates as a research council under the National Department of Health and is the largest local funder of health research, medical diagnostics, medical devices, and therapeutics.

SAMRC also prides itself as a pioneer in cutting-edge medical innovations, focusing on genomic research, the development of novel treatment regimens, vaccine development, diagnostic tools, and the creation of new drugs and devices. 

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