Dr. Priscilla Kolibea Mante and Dr Mrs Mercy Badu of the Department of Pharmacology and the Department of Chemistry respectively of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) have been selected as part of the second cohort of the Organisation for Women in Science in Developing Countries (OWSD) Early Career Fellowship Programme. These two scientists among the twenty selected, received USD 50,000 each to lead various research programmes in KNUST and build up research groups that will attract international visitors.
The Early Career Fellows recognised twenty female scientists from a highly competitive pool of candidates based on the strength of their research proposals and proven scientific excellence as well as leadership skills. They came from fourteen (14) countries across Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Dr. Mercy Badu, a member of WiSTEM KNUST, focuses on harnessing underutilized, non-traditional oilseeds for incorporation into food and other industrial products. ‘Micronutrients in oilseeds and nuts can be used as food to reduce hunger and malnutrition in poor rural communities. The aim of my research is to identify and characterise these micronutrients as well as macronutrients, anti-nutritional factors and medicinal properties of the oilseeds’, she announced. According to Dr. Badu, once the potential of the identified oilseeds and nuts has been established, farmers can begin to cultivate these plants to ensure their continuous availability and earn greater income.
Dr. Priscilla Kolibea Mante, focuses on identifying micro RNA biomarkers of epilepsy in Ghanaian epilepsy patients. Her research aims to provide genomic data for management of epilepsy patients in Ghana as well as promote accuracy of epilepsy diagnosis. According to her findings, proper epilepsy diagnosis is dependent on expensive methods such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which may be unaffordable to epileptic patients in developing countries or may sometimes be completely absent. Dr. Mante believes that the establishment of definitive epilepsy-associated biomarkers which can be accurately detected using portable and easy-to-use diagnostic methods, would be a relief for such patients. ‘The study will further apply these microRNA biomarkers in predicting drug-resistant epilepsy in patients’, she stated.
Funding for the fellowship is generously provided by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
OWSD is an international non-profit organisation based at the offices of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), in Trieste, Italy, a programme unit of UNESCO. The organisation provides research training, career development and networking opportunities for women scientists throughout the developing world at different stages in their careers.
OWSD which was founded in 1987, is the first international forum to unite eminent women scientists from the developing and developed worlds with the objective of strengthening their role in the development process and promoting their representation in scientific and technological leadership.