Excellent Science and Advocacy by ACEGID (Nigeria) & Partners sees the World Health Organisation (WHO) agreeing to rename Monkeypox

Written By Mrs Felicia Nkrumah Kuagbedzi

The Africa Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria (ACEGID, Redeemer’s University) has since June 2022 been leading a team of scientists from Africa and beyond to advocate for the renaming of the Monkeypox virus by the World Health Organisation. This advocacy was rooted in the need to counter discrimination and stigmatization of Africa after recent global outbreaks of the Monkeypox disease proved that the disease had no clear link to Africa, yet the current classification of the two types of recognized Monkeypox variants (clades), bear names which are traced to Africa – that is the ‘West African’ clade and the ‘Central African Clade, also known as the ‘Congo Basin’ Clade. It is expected that the renaming exercise will align with best practices and help to eliminate racism, discrimination and stigmatisation.

In a scientific publication, Professor Christian Happi, the Centre Leader of ACEGID, and the rest of the scientists explained that references to the 2022 outbreak as belonging to the “West African” or “Western African” clade/strain is inaccurate, given that the origin of the current global outbreak is still unknown.  Besides, the naming of diseases after the geographical locations where they were first detected is in contrast with the best practice of avoiding geographic locations in the nomenclature of diseases and disease groups as outlined in the WHO’s Guidelines for the naming of infectious diseases.

The scientists succeeded through their position paper to call on WHO to adopt a novel classification/name that is “non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing and aligned with best practices in the naming of infectious diseases in a way that minimizes unnecessary negative impacts on nations, geographic regions, economies and people, as well as considers the evolution and spread of the virus”. The recent example of naming adopted for SARs-CoV-2 (COVID-19), is cited as being a good example to follow.

WHO indicates that between January 1 and June 22 this year, 3413 laboratory-confirmed cases and one death have been reported to the organisation from 50 countries. It states that the majority of laboratory confirmed cases which have been reported are from the WHO European Region (86%), while the African Region (2%), Americas (11%), Eastern Mediterranean Region (less than 1%) and Western Pacific Region (less than 1%) have also recorded cases.

Despite Africa recording a very small percentage of cases, the scientists engaged in the advocacy explained that ‘the prevailing perception by the international media is that the disease is endemic in people in some African countries”.  Professor Happi and team referenced the use of photos of African patients to portray the disease as a clear example of this perception.  This is further corroborated by a statement issued by the Foreign Press Association, calling on the global media to desist from the usage of images of Africans to depict the outbreak of the disease in Europe.

The scientific research, high-quality publication, and advocacy by ACEGID and their collaborating partners and researchers can be said to have paid off as WHO announced that it is “working with partners and experts from around the world to change the name of the monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes.”

In a separate interview granted by Prof. Happi to a News Media, he called on all relevant stakeholders to collaborate and work even more closely to contain the virus “as we live in a globalised world” wheere an infectious disease that breaks out in the farthest corner of the world could appear in the World’s busiest capitals and metropolitans within 36 hours

He also called for the same level of attention and global enthusiasm to combat the virus, stating that “paying attention to disease wherever it happens benefits everyone,” he added in an interview with the Washington Post.

ACEGID is one of the 53 Africa Centres of Excellence under the ACE Impact Project.  Through the Africa Centres of Excellence for Development Impact Project (ACE Impact), scientists like Prof. Christian Happi and many others have been empowered to be Africa’s leading voices on key issues concerning the five thematic subject areas of the Project – Health, Agriculture, STEM, Environment, Applied Social Science & Education.

ACEGID (Nigeria) Trains 100+ Scientists from Over 30 African Countries in One Year

Written By Mr. Fikayo Oyewale

In the last year, the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) trained over 100 African scientists from more than 30 countries in next-generation sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens. This is part of the centre’s effort towards building genomics capacity across Africa. The workshops were held in-country, at ACEGID, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Nigeria, and at partner institutions in Cote D’Ivoire, Rwanda, Cameroon and Seychelles. The participants were staff of public health institutions drawn from countries such as Tunisia, Benin Republic, Togo, Liberia, Guinea, Djibouti, and other African countries. Participants receive hands-on sequencing and bioinformatics training facilitated by ACEGID’s pool of young doctoral and research fellows. These scientists demonstrated passion about sharing their expertise with others.


ACEGID was founded in 2014 with initial funding from the World Bank (over US$13 million including funds from the ACE Impact project), as one of the centres of excellence aimed at developing relevant human capacity to address Africa’s challenges through research and innovation. The centre continues to lead innovations in using genomics for surveillance, characterization and diagnosis of infectious diseases as well as for vaccine and drug development. The centre’s education and research missions is fused into a robust capacity building system targeted at young African scientists. ACEGID’s Director, Prof Christian Happi, discussed the rationale for the centre’s drive for capacity building on the continent and remarked saying: “We know that Africa has lots of pathogens that have pandemic potential. I think it is natural for Africa to be in the vanguard. Building capacity will enable Africa to be at the forefront of genomic surveillance, pandemic pre-emption and response” .

Scientists in public health institutions, who are responsible for their countries’ sequencing activities participated in the workshops. The participants expressed their thoughts about their experiences. “Frankly speaking, I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude for what you did for us. You took us from almost zero to a good level. Personally, I am very thankful and I wish to see you again,” said Jean Shimirwa, a participant in the training held at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Kigali, Rwanda.

Anissa Chouikha, Associate Professor at the Laboratory of Clinical Virology, Pasteur Institute of Tunis, said “This training is important to me because I am a virologist. It will help me monitor new variants and strains that are circulating in my country.” In recognition of the training and research efforts, ACEGID was recently awarded the Al-Sumait Prize for African Development for its continental capacity building effort, among others.

“I would never have done this without my love for what I do is my driving force”, Meet Grace Who Fights Malaria in Nigeria

“My love for what I do is my driving force”, Meet Grace Who Fights Malaria in Nigeria


Launched in 2014, the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACE) Program seeks to meet labor market demands for skills in specific and priority fields. It has become synonymous with delivering quality and relevant post-graduate education supporting over 14,000 Masters and PhD students in agriculture, health, and other sciences, of whom  30 percent are women. Meet Grace who shares her experience and the challenges she overcame.

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 15, 2021—“Where do I go from here?” This is the question constantly on the mind of Grace Peter, a young lady of Beninese and Nigerian descent. The youngest of five children, she has always had a deep love for science and research. This propelled her to the African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases in Nigeria, where she pursued an Master of Science (MSc) in Microbiology.

Grace’s studies focused on anti-resistant bacteria, and specifically, using molecular techniques to identify mutations in the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, known more commonly as malaria. This focus, she says, was borne out of the fact that Africa has fewer preventive measures when it comes to diseases and infections.

The teaching and facilities at the Center of Excellence exceeded Grace’s expectations, opening her mind to the different ways that her scientific and research skills could be used for the benefit of Nigeria and Africa. She is passionate about using local solutions and resources to address regional issues. “We can’t always wait for the Westernized countries to come in and solve our problems for us. We are not deficient when it comes to manpower or intelligence. Why not utilize what we have to solve our own problems?”


Understanding the value of research

Grace is now studying for a PhD in Microbiology with a focus on antibiotics in the environment. She is planning to use her knowledge of biochemistry to develop a technique to eliminate antibiotics in wastewater collected from hospitals. Treatment plants for wastewater in Nigeria are few in number and expensive to maintain, which has long-term consequences for society. “All the wastewater collected from farms, or run-off from hospitals and pharmaceutical companies just gets released into the environment and goes into the groundwater and surface water. People end up consuming this, predisposing them to infections they are probably not able to treat in the long-term, due to exposure to antibiotics.”

“We’re going to trial how we can use control measures by setting up treatment plants that can be maintained in different sectors to see how we can treat the waste before it is released into the environment.” In addition to her scholarly pursuits, Grace is the editor of Water Magazine, a publication that aims to sensitize her fellow Nigerians about the importance of the environment, and how it can become “a point of exposure” if not treated properly. For research to be effective, she stresses, the public must understand how it benefits them.

Our research must not only end in the laboratory. It must go from the lab to the environment and meet the needs of people.”

The sky is your limit

Grace plans to go into full-time research after completing her studies, as she wants to keep abreast of new technologies and techniques. She is devoted to her work and admits that she does not have much time for socializing.

Fortunately, there is little pressure from her family, as she grew up in a single parent household and saw that her mother was able to raise her children and hold down a job. Instead, most of the anxiety comes from her work colleagues, who say that “men get intimidated by intelligent women or by the fact that I will have a PhD.”

However, Grace is undeterred. “I don’t pay attention to it. My love for what I do is my driving force. My job is very demanding, and my partner will need to understand, see my passion, and want to help me advance.”

She is similarly forthright in her message to young African women, encouraging them to ignore naysayers and to believe in themselves. “Understand that you come first. You matter. Your main purpose is not to be a wife or to only deal with the affairs of home. You can give care when it comes to engineering or agriculture or health. The whole idea is that you are being productive and helping the lives of other people.


“Never limit yourself. Through passion, you will bring forth true accomplishment.”


By Melissa Bryant, External Affairs Officer, World Bank

Source: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2021/07/15/-i-would-never-have-done-this-without-my-love-for-what-i-do-is-my-driving-force

Centres of Excellence Gain Recognition for their Contributions/ Centres’ Faculty and Students Awarded for their Contributions

Centres of Excellence Gain Recognition for their Contributions/ Centres’ Faculty and Students Awarded for their Contributions


The ACE Impact project is proud to announce the awarding of numerous milestones for our centres of excellence across the region. ACE Impact seeks to empower universities in Africa to deliver quality education and applied research by providing the needed infrastructure for an enabling environment, laboratories and equipment, training of faculty, among others. In view of this, the ACE Impact Centres are making productive strides in their contributions in addressing developmental challenges within the region. Relentless efforts made by both centre faculties and students in delivering impactful research and remarkable services in their respective fields are being duly acknowledged by the relevant stakeholders through awards.  

Notable among these awards include: The 2020 Bailey K. Ashford Medal by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene received by Prof. Christian Happi, Director for the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) in Nigeria. The award is in recognition of his contribution in research on infectious diseases. Prof. Happi has also been appointed Chair of the Research and Ethics Committee of the Academy of Medicine Specialties of Nigeria. 


Prof. Gordon Awandare of the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) received two awards from the University of Ghana during the College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS) Meritorious Awards ceremony. One in recognition of his outstanding service to the College and University and another for his leadership in COVID-19 research to support national response.




Similarly, Prof. Eric Y. Danquah of the West Africa Centre for Crop Improvement (WACCI) was a recipient of the CBAS Meritorious Awards ceremony for his exceptional service to the College. He is also the 2018 Laureate of the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences (GCHERA) World Agriculture Prize. 





In addition, Prof. Jacob K. Tona of the Centre of Excellence in Poultry Science (CERSA) in Togo has been awarded by the World Poultry Science Association (WPSA) as winner of the WPSA Education Award. In acheiveing a new milestone, he is the first African recipient to win the award.  







Professor Diabate Abdoulaye, the Centre Director for the African Center of Excellence in Biotechnology Innovation for Vector-borne Disease Elimination (CEA/ ITECH-MTV) also received the Newcomb Cleveland Prize for his outstanding research on fighting malaria in Africa. 






Regarding students’ excellence, Mrs. Njabeh Rita Bonwi and Mr. Richard Kwame Dogbey pursuing MPhil in Irrigation and Drainage Engineering at the West African Centre for Water, Irrigation and Sustainable Agriculture (WACWISA) in Ghana received an award prize of US$ 2,000 each from the 2020 African Plant Nutrition Scholar Award. 



We congratulate the winners for these achievements. The ACE Impact project will continue to provide the necessary support and encouragement to centres in maximizing their potentials. 

Genomics Summer Bootcamp

The African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) hosted by Redeemer’s University, Nigeria is organizing training workshops on Molecular Biology Genomics and Next Generation Sequencing from May 20- June 14 and May 6-31, 2019 respectively at the Redeemer’s University.

Courses under Molecular Biology and Genomics include; Molecular Bilogy theory, Laboratoty techniques, PCR primer designs, Sanger Sequencing Statistic, Data visualization, among others.

For Next Generation Sequencing, courses include; Library Construction, MiSeq operation, Science information, Bioinformatics analysis,Next generation sequencing, qRT-PCR and Career development.

All who seek to enhance their understanding and also pursue a career in Genomics are kindly requested to apply.

For more information, visit https://acegid.org/

Contact: smkandawire@aau.org | Association of African Universities | P. O. Box AN 5744,
Accra-North, Ghana | Tel +233-547-728975 All Rights Reserved © 2022