#STICE2023: Ifakara scientists join talks on biotechnology at COSTECH conference
At the 8th National Science, Technology, and Innovation Conference and Exhibition (STICE), which was held from June 14–16, Ifakara Health Institute scientists joined other experts from across Tanzania to discuss the role and contribution of biotechnology in the country.
The conference was held at the JNICC in Dar es Salaam with the theme "Science, Technology, and Innovation for Sustainable Development" and was organized by the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) with assistance from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology.
Ifakara scientists within the Interventions and Clinical Trials Department along with the Ifakara Innovation Hub (IIH) team took part in various activities at both the conference and exhibition during the three-day event.
Plenary on the fourth industrial revolution
Ifakara scientist Dr. Brian Tarimo participated in a plenary discussion on the second day of the conference, alongside panelists Drs. Ali Mahandhi from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Stella Rwezaula from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), Daniel Maeda from UDSM, and Deusideth Mbanzibwa from TAR.
During the session, the panel had an in-depth discussion and debate centred on a presentation by Dr. Mahadhi about the role of biotechnology in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and its contribution to healthcare, agriculture and industry.
Dr. Mahadhi emphasized how "crucial" biotechnology is to the fourth industrial revolution in terms of advancing numerous industries, bringing a wide range of uses as well as enormous opportunities for innovation and sustainable development.
He also drew attention to ethical issues and the effects of biotechnology, particularly as they relate to the employment market, emphasising that social and environmental effects "must be carefully managed to optimize benefits and minimize risks."
Gene drives for malaria control
For his part, Dr. Tarimo explained how Ifakara uses gene-drive technology to fight malaria by genetically modifying mosquitoes to render them incapable of spreading the disease. Additionally, he discussed how biotechnology is used to produce vaccinations with the highest level of effectiveness feasible through rigorous testing of antibodies.
In response to a participant’s question about stakeholders’ involvement in biotechnology discussions, Dr. Tarimo encouraged researchers to seek stakeholder interaction in order to translate knowledge in a more palatable way. He also advised scientists to stop talking exclusively to each other and instead transmit knowledge in a more appealing manner about biotechnology.
At a separate conference side event, other Ifakara scientists came together and gave a series of presentations on the use of modern biotechnology in health in Tanzania, particularly for the prevention and treatment of malaria and sickle cell disease, and in encouraging healthy living.
Ifakara’s Mohammed Zahir, Kilaza Samson, Prisca Kweyamba, and Maxmillian Mpina were among the presenters at the side event, which was moderated by Dr. Dickson Lweitojera and Dr. Tarimo.
In concluding their discussion, the scientists emphasized their desire for government support in their biotechnology research projects in the future.
Innovation Hub showcases work
The IIH team, on the other hand, showcased their work to visitors at their exhibition booth including solutions they offer to promote good health. They showcased two products from their health portfolio, the Mama check tool, which is a rapid diagnostic tool for Preeclampsia and LabX technologies which uses 3D printing technology to make dental crowns.
They were represented by Masoud Mnonji, the Hub Director, Jessica Kimosso, the Innovation Associate, Rachel Magodi, the Community Engagement Officer, and two innovators from Mama Check Diagnostics and LabX technologies Amina Nyuri and Abbas Hassan respectively.
>> More photos from the event: https://ifakarahealthinstitute.smugmug.com/STICE2023-Ifakara-scientist-join-talks-on-biotechnology-