WCAIR Training Team visit to Blantyre 2019

The WCAIR Training team returned to the College of Medicine, Blantyre Malawi for their 3rd visit. Each year the training team going to Malawi has grown as we have got to know the researchers and lecturers and how we can best add to their curriculum. This year the team were Lauren Webster (chemistry and chromatography), Sandra O’Neill (Biological assays), Ola Epemolu (DMPK), Dan Fletcher (Analytical Chemistry, HPLC) joined by Happy Nyringo a Pharmacy technician from College of Medicine. WCAIR manager Catharine Goddard joined the group to assist all the trainers and gain a better understanding of the situation at the College of Medicine to inform future teaching and collaborations.

The students were lecturers, Masters and PhD Students at the College of Medicine and Malawi University of Science and Technology, MUST. Each course was designed to provide them with training in an aspect of drug discovery to inform teaching and research. The courses were developed following the training teams experiences teaching in 2018.

Biological Assays introduced the participants to the principles of running an assay, and in particular how to run an enzymatic assay in a 384 well plate.

Analytical Chemistry taught the students how to use the Agilent HPLC in the Pharmacy department. Dan took them through principles of HPLC, showed them the mechanics of the machine and how to run samples and the results.

Chemistry taught them how to analyse and check the results of a chemistry reaction. They were taken through Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC), Column chromatography, NMR and LCMS. This was a 2 week course in the first week Lauren and Happy taught and demonstrated the techniques. In week 2 the participants were given a challenge mixture and had to apply their knowledge from week 1 to solve the problem of how many and what compounds were in their mixture.

A real highlight of the visit was seeing Happy teaching on the chemistry course. Last year he was a participant. He then came to Dundee for 6 months this year as part of the WCAIR training programme. During his time with us he worked with Lauren to develop the chemistry training for this programme. The course has been designed so that Happy will be able to teach it himself. This time round he practised by taking on some of the teaching and demonstrating. He did an excellent job while also ensuring we had everything we needed for the practicals.

The clarity of the course was demonstrated by the fact that a finance manager was able to keep up with the alongside the chemists and pharmacists on the course. Youngson Ghambi is the commercialisation officer for the new lab being built by WCIP and came on the course so that he has more scientific knowledge to help develop the facilities for the laboratory.

Ola was given space in the Pharmacy undergraduate lecture programme to give a number of additional lectures and a couple of practicals. He gave them an introduction to DMPK and its importance in drug design and then focussed on clinical pharmacokinetics biopharmaceutics.