The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) held its 2022 annual retreat on December 13th and 14th, 2022 at the Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos state. The Institute’s principal officers, all NIMR research staff, including adjunct researchers, representatives from non-research departments, outstation offices, the Labor unions, and media personnel, attended the retreat.
Prof. Babatunde Lawal Salako, the Director General of NIMR, stated in his welcome address that the retreat was an opportunity to learn from experiences and move forward effectively. The DG emphasized the importance of collaboration and teamwork in moving the institute forward.
The guest lecture for the 2022 retreat was “diversity and Inclusion in the Modern Workplace” delivered by Dr Sylvia Adebajo (the guest lecturer), a Public Health Physician and the Country Director, of the Centre for International Health, Education, and Biosecurity. According to her, the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace include having leadership devoid of discrimination and bias, a cohesive working team, increased productivity, and innovative and organizational performance with less staff turnover. All departments, units, and adjunct researchers at the institute presented their progress reports for 2022.
Research and Innovation
In his annual report, the Director-General discussed the four thematic areas of the new 2022-2026 strategic plan. He listed over 18 research studies conducted in 2022, notably SAARMAN and SIFCoVAN, Entomology Surveillance and COVID-19 Vaccine, etc. External funding received supported about 89% of research studies conducted by the institute in 2022. Other research efforts institute include the development of a malaria culture laboratory and the discovery of anopheles stephensis in West Africa and its sequencing. Some of NIMR’s research collaborators in the year are The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), The National Blood Service Commission (NBSC), Afe Babalola University (ABUAD), Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, Novartis.
Notable among NIMR innovations in 2022 is the production of diagnostic PCR and ELISA kits for Monkey Pox, SARS-CoV-2, and Cholera; oligonucleotide synthesis, cloning, and expression of viral proteins. In addition, two NIMR laboratories could maintain their ISO accreditation and WHO prequalification.
Other achievements of the institute in 2022 were the completion of the e-library and admin complex, bio-banking, emerging viral disease lab buildings, and the clinical trials observation centre. The institute also engaged in the production of primers for research, redesigning and repackaging of NIMR biotech products, patenting the products and establishing an Intellectual Property Tech Transfer Office (IPTTO).
Report of NIMR Contributions to the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Director-General launched a report on NIMR’s response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the NIMR Policy on Research Misconduct and Fraud during the 2022 annual retreat.
The NIMR Foundation incorporated as an auxiliary organization to NIMR, has the mandate to raise funds on behalf of the Institute for its various research capacity-strengthening activities such as the funding of PhDs/Fellowships, and postdoctoral and sabbatical positions, and conducting training on grantsmanship and mentorship. The DG acknowledged the immense contributions of Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the NIMR Foundation in leading the advocacy to mobilize additional funds for the Institute in the year 2022.
Recognition and Awards
Mr Joseph Shaibu, a Research Scientist in the Department of Microbiology at NIMR, received the institute’s innovation award for the development of Monkeypox qPCR Kits, which was unveiled on October 28, 2022. Also, Staff actively involved in the COVID-19 sample collection and testing received recognition awards.
Staff who retired from the institute in 2022 such as Dr. E. C. Uzohue, Mrs. A. E. Okoye, Mr. C. D. Uzuh, and Mr. D. Ugochukwu received gifts for their service to the institute.
The Honorable Minister of State for Health, Barr Joseph Nkama Ekumankama paid a one-day working visit to NIMR on the 28th of October, 2022 for the unveiling of NIMR’s Monkeypox Kit, commissioning of NIMR Clinical Trial Centre, the Emerging Viral Diseases Laboratory and presentation of NIMR Research, Innovation, and Product Development Policy.
The Minister also had a tour of the Institute’s laboratories and facilities.