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Genetic medicine centre construction takes off

BY: Yaa Kuffour Senyah
Genetic medicine centre construction takes off
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana (UG), Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana (UG), Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, has cut the sod for the construction of the West African Genetic Medicine Centre (WAGMC), a multi-purpose genomic medicine building complex, at the university.

The building, when completed, is expected to provide research, clinical and teaching services for students and the public.

Genomic medicine is the study of genes (DNA) and their interaction with people’s health. It investigates how a person’s biological information can be used to improve his or her clinical care and health outcomes through effective diagnosis and personalised treatment.

While genetics looks at specific genes or groups of 'letters' along the DNA strand, genomics refers to the study of someone's entire genetic make-up.

It is about how genes relate and react with one another and is associated with conditions that have a broader range of triggers, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and asthma.

The multi-purpose edifice will be built on a two-acre land on the university campus.

The first phase of the project will commence in a two-level facility, comprising 200-capacity classrooms, 250-capacity laboratories, an ultra-modern auditorium, among other units.

Research

The project, which is financed by the World Bank at a cost of GH¢5.3 million for the first phase, which comprises the brick and mortar work, is expected to be completed in nine months.

The second phase, which is also estimated at GH¢400,000 and comprising mechanical, electrical and plumbing works, will be done within five months.

Prof. Amfo, in a brief ceremony yesterday, said the project laid out a bold vision to reinvigorate all aspects of the university’s activities through six key objectives, especially as she marked her 250th day in office.

She said the project would reactivate impactful research in the Applied Sciences and Humanities, resulting in increased research income, exponential growth of research of outputs and vibrant community engagements.

“I believe this new facility will help us create a sense of ownership and commitment among students, faculty, staff and alumni to promote creativity and innovation,” Prof. Amfo said.

Project

The Director of the WAGMC, Prof. Solomon Ofori-Acquah, said the long-term goal of the facility was to become a transnational research arm in Africa, in partnership with the university.

He said the project was being undertaken in six lots to save money and have full control of the process.

On behalf of his team, he applauded the Vice-Chancellor for her bold leadership and calm competence to do something different.

The Deputy Director of the WAGMC, Prof. Lorna Renner, said the project marked a milestone in the history of WAGMC, since it had been declared as an African Centre of Excellence (ACE).

She said the facility was sited strategically between the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) and the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research, with which the centre would partner to continue the development of more scientific research.

About WAGMC

The WAGMC is an ACE of Higher Education in the University of Ghana.

It was first established in 2019 under a performance and funding contract between the university and the Ministry of Finance for the purpose of developing genetic medicine, with funding from the International Development Association of the World Bank.

The centre focuses on human genetic disorders, notably sickle cell disease, and other common diseases, such as cancers that are acquired through somatic gene mutations.