It is now official. Egerton University has won the bid to host the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) Regional Research Centre (RRC), and it is the first of such a centre in sub-Saharan Africa.
The ICGEB Board of Governors, in its 28th Session held on 17-18 May, 2022 in Trieste Italy, enthusiastically endorsed the Kenyan proposal to host the ICGEB -RRC at Egerton University. Congratulations Egerton University, for this big achievement!
The decision was a culmination of a competitive process coordinated by the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI). Egerton University will host the first ICGEB RRC to be established in Africa and it is the second in the world after China.
It is a big honour for Egerton University to host the ICGEB -RRC. This is a centre that will be strengthening research skills, knowledge and capacities of the scientific community while pursuing specific objectives for research, training, and technology transfer to industry. Farther, the ICGEB -RRC will be collaborating with institutions from the Member Countries in the region in scientific research and mentoring the smaller Universities in Kenya. Hosting the ICGEB -RRC brings additional advantages, including promoting development and job creation beyond the hosting country, Kenya, because it is an international research centre.
The ICGEB -RRC at Egerton University will specialise in six scientific areas: (i) Molecular plant pathology and entomology; (ii) Genetic biofortification; (iii) Molecular plant breeding; (iv) Development of molecular diagnostic tools and their applications; (v) Bioprospecting for biopesticides and bioactive compounds; and (vi) Food safety.
In its 22nd session of the ICGEB Board of Governors held in Cape Town in 2016, it was decided to explore the interest of Member Countries in establishing ICGEB- RRC in Africa. Subsequently, during the Annual General Meeting in December 2020, ICGEB Board resolved that Kenya was to host the RRC within its territory. The Director-General NACOSTI was tasked to steer the process of competitively identifying the institution to host the RRC.
In February 2021, Director General NACOSTI invited Egerton University to respond to an Expression of Interest to host an ICGEB RRC in Kenya. The University through the Division of Research and Extension responded to the Call. The Ag DVC RE, Prof. Bockline Bebe, appointed a technical team to develop a proposal in response to the Call, which was submitted to NACOSTI in March 2021. The proposal development team were Prof. Josiah Omolo (Institutional Principal Investigator), Prof. James Owuoche, Prof. Liu Gaoxiong, Dr. Miriam Charimbu, Dr. John Nduko, Dr. Joseph Mafurah, Dr. Pascal Okwiri, Dr. Elijah Lelmen, Dr. Kiplagat Ngeno, Dr. Joel Khobondo and Dr. Stephen Indieka.
The University received a positive feedback in May 2021 that led in a site inspection at the Njoro campus on 3rd February 2022. An International Review Team of scientists from ICGEB led by Dr Lawrence Banks and the Director-General of NACOSTI, Prof. Walter Oyawa visited Egerton University for on-site inspection. The International Review Team were hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Isaac Kibwage, where they met the University Management, the proposal development team, the students, stakeholders and the University community.
In a letter dated 7th March 2022, the Director-General of NACOSTI informed the Vice Chancellor, that Egerton University had been unanimously selected to host the RRC from three institutions that were inspected. The inspection team were impressed by the commitment demonstrated by the University Management, and synergies between faculty members, and observed that the Project Team for the proposed RRC displayed a clear understanding and coherence of the concept of the RRC.
Congratulations for putting Egerton University in the international map of scientific work and advancement.