The Carnegie-IAS Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE aims to develop human capacity through science and technology training and research in a regional context in sub-Saharan Africa, enabling individuals to use Science and Technology to contribute to national and regional economic development. This will be done by preparing PhD- and MSc-level scientists and engineers in sub-Saharan Africa through university-based research and training networks in selected disciplines. Its primary emphases are on training new faculty to teach in African universities and on upgrading current faculty.
In an intense competition that attracted 48 proposals from 29 African countries, the proposal “Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products” (SABINA), was among the three networks selected by an international panel of distinguished scientists.
SABINA was selected because of its competence to combine the strongest science with the greatest potential to have a positive impact on faculty development across the region.
The SABINA network aims to train both PhD and MSc scientists from 2009 onwards, through research in the biochemistry and chemistry of natural products, including bioinformatics as an essential tool for data management and the elucidation of structure and function.
In 2009, SABINA will recruit and support three PhD and three MSc students. In the subsequent years, it is anticipated that three new PhD and three new MSc students will enter the programme each year.
Research will focus on increasing the understanding of useful plants or fungi (such as mushrooms, and tea crops) through the study of screening assays, biosynthetic pathways, gene expression, modes of action, synthetic production, and genetic diversity. Nonetheless, the specific research projects selected for the MSc and PhD students will be determined based on ongoing research in the partner institutions, and will be tailored to the previous scientific background of those students.
The institutions participating in the SABINA network program are:
- University of Malawi
- University of Namibia
- University of Dar es Salaam
- University of Pretoria
- University of the Witwatersrand
- CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research)
- Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa, Malawi
The involvement of the South African institutions will be coordinated through the office of the ACGT.
The Academic Director of the SABINA network is Professor John DK Saka, of the Department of Chemistry in india.