Improvement of the existing knowledge and practices in the fields of medical and life sciences is part of NUMS mission. Training of researchers and healthcare professionals is one of the most suitable approaches to elevate the quality of research and healthcare practices in the country. Skill enhancement of the personnel in the areas lying at the intersection of biomedical research and healthcare practices is the need of the hour to bridge the gap between research and practice. Keeping this in view, a two-day Hands-on training workshop on Real-Time PCR was organized by the Department of Biological Sciences, NUMS in collaboration with Sure Biodiagnostics and Quaid-i- Azam University, at the NUMS PWD campus. A cohort of 25 researchers/academicians and professionals attended this hands-on training workshop, which included practical aspects of qPCR including RNA extraction, cDNA synthesis, assay designing, and data analysis.
In wake of COVID-19 diagnosis and testing, training on Real-Time PCR was a very timely initiative because the national health system is in dire need of a trained human resource for the extensive and accurate testing for COVID-19 across the country. NUMS Department of Biological Sciences has a diverse faculty consisting of researchers with a variety of research expertise. A team from NDBS including Dr. Hussain M. Wahedi, Dr. Liaqat Ali, Dr. Munazza Fatima, Dr. Deeba Amraiz, Dr. Tahir Naeem, and Dr. Humayn Satti actively participated in this training workshop as organizers and trainers. Undergraduate students Fatima Asif and Sidra Qamar along with lab technologists Kaleem Ullah Shah and Muhammad Bilal Khan facilitated the organizer in the arrangements. Dr. Rizwan Alam, and Ms. Durre Shehwar from the Biochemistry department, QAU joined the NUMS team and demonstrated various aspects of RT-PCR. The lecture part consisted of a detailed overview and theoretical knowledge of the Real-time PCR technique and experiment design. Moreover, data acquisition and analysis were also thoroughly demonstrated by the instructors. The event was sponsored by Sure Biodiagnostics, a leading company dealing in scientific equipment and laboratory items. According to the organizers, this training workshop was the first in the series of several training workshops to be organized by the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences in the future. Successful organization and positive feedback from the participants are a really good sign for the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences. It speaks of the research capacity of the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences and its faculty. This experience will not only help in organizing future training workshops in the department but will also increase the outreach of the research portfolio of the department to the research and academic fraternity as well as to the community. The collaborative nature of this will play an important role in developing research and academic collaborations between the researchers from the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences and other universities both at the individual level as well as at the departmental level. Dr. Jawad Hassan, HoD NDBS, distributed certificates to all participants and congratulated the organizing team for the successful conduct of the workshop.
Dr Deeba Amraiz, Dr Munazza Fatima and Dr Liaqat Ali from the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences, participated in the four-day ModPad-MoV 2021 training program about Molecular Diagnosis, Pathogen Determination and Molecular Vaccinology Techniques, organized by China CDC (Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
The aim of the training program was to facilitate/improve the laboratory capacities of NUMS in conducting molecular detection assays and implementing molecular diagnosis and vaccine development for the potential microbial pathogens.
It will also help to establish linkages between China CDC and NUMS and scaling up laboratory capacities for prevention and control of pandemic and epidemic-prone diseases in Pakistan in close collaboration with chines experts.
The Zauq Group is a dynamic business group with an extensive portfolio of innovation, R&D and digital transformation across South East Asia, Europe and the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Shafeeq Haider, Director Life Science Zauq Group accompanied by Mr. Rizwan Buttar Chief Innovation Officer and Mr. Zahid Ali, visited NUMS to explore opportunities for collaboration in areas of mutual interest. Prof. Aisha Mohyuddin, Dean MDS enlightened the visitors about research and academic activities and future goals of NUMS. The Zauq Group presented an introduction of their company and highlighted possible areas for future collaboration. Faculty members from the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences (NDBS) participated in discussion on the challenges and opportunities in commercializing their research. The faculty of NDBS has already secured several research projects from HE C, PSF and other funding agencies worth more than 80 million PKR and is committed to providing solutions to indigenous problems.
Dr. Wasim Sajjad Assistant Professor Department of Biological Sciences, NUMS attended World Microbe Forum which was sponsored by Health Security Partners USA. Dr. Wasim Sajjad was been selected to receive the Bill and Melinda Gates Abstract Award for Scientists from Low-Middle and Low Income Countries to assist in covering registration expenses to attend World Microbe Forum, June 20-24, 2021, a joint digital between American Society for Microbiology (ASM-2021) and Federation of European Microbiological Societies (FEMS-2021).
In World Microbe Forum 2021, Microbiologists have shown how they have taken on the world’s greatest problems and stepped up to discover unique diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, small peptides and even explored the impact of toxicological blooms in blue biotechnology. The scientific community shared microbial science through the largest microbiology forum, where researchers, entrepreneurs, think-tanks and policy makers were under one-roof to discuss the global pandemic and other upcoming challenges. In this forum diverse topics from microbial science, in 500 sessions were curated to share the updated tools, and research for a meaningful collaboration.
The fundamental components of Biosafety & Biosecurity for a resilient national laboratory system, health security challenges, and impact of pandemic on the economy were discussed. Risk assessment and selection of safety, preventing transmissions, risk management process, biosafety competencies and establishing biosafety committees were also in spotlight. The latest technology and innovations in microbial sciences were shared gave me an in-depth knowledge on how to combine biology with technology for meaningful and applied research. The updated research shared and information added also enhanced my critical thinking to re-imagine science and prioritize our future research to make this world a better place. The knowledge gained will be share at institutional level for collaborative work as well. Attending WMF 2021 was a good experience to exchange ideas with world renowned scientists for future collaborative work for joint ventures and applied research. Finally, I would like to acknowledge Health Security Partners for sponsorship.
Dr. Hussain Mustatab Wahedi from the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences has been selected for the highly competitive TWAS – 2021 Innovation and Science Diplomacy Workshop to be held from 9th to 13th of August 2021. This event is part of the series of TWAS Regional Workshops on Science Diplomacy, aimed at introducing science diplomacy and innovation diplomacy key concepts and issues to the bright young scientists from all over the world. Science Diplomacy front will explore the multi-faceted dimensions of the intersection between Science and Foreign Policy. The Innovation Diplomacy front will address contemporary topics and strategies for technological development, including International Technology Transfer, Foreign Investment in R&D, Science & Technology Diasporas, and Cross-boundary Innovation programs. A total of 143 young scientists from around the world and only two from Pakistan have been selected for this prestigious event.
Industrial effluents are high priority effluents that need to be treated as they contaminate the underground water and rivers, resulting in adverse health effects in our population. Nowadays, bio-based technologies are being adopted for waste water treatment as these are cost-effective, environmentally friendly and less hazardous for the associated sites. This project titled “Development of efficient Biological water purification systems for industrial wastewater” awarded under HEC-TTSF grants scheme, is the first step towards commercialization of this technology for industries. This project will provide a solution for a national issue and help the government to achieve SDG-6 “Clean Water and Sanitation”. Moreover, by the implementation of this technology the end-user will not only meet the National Environmental Quality Standards of wastewater discharge but also get the benefit of reusing the treated water for gardening, toilet flushing and agriculture.
Grant Information Funding Agency: Higher Education Commission
Grant Value: 8.2 Million PKR
Project Duration: 24 Months
PI Details: Name: Dr. Mahwish Ali
Designation: Assistant Professor
Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences
Specialization: Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Dr. Shumaila Naz, Assistant Professor in the NUMS Department of Biological Sciences was invited as a speaker to give a talk on “Prevalence, Management and Control of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Pakistan” in the NIPD-TDR-WSH workshop on multisectoral approaches (MSA) for the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases..
The workshop was organized by the National Institute of Parasitic Diseases (NIPD) of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), with TDR and the WHO/WSH teams, with an aim to share the experiences in preparing a response before and during the health emergencies, and to strengthen collaboration in research and implementation in MSA in the era of COVID 19.
The workshop was attended by professionals related to the fields of medical and biological research, from Asia, Europe, Africa and America.
Project Digest :
This TTSF project will lead to the development and commercialization of a skin wound healing scaffold. The currently available wound care bandages in the local market only cover the wound and protect against infections. Our scaffold comes with an added advantage of a natural wound-healing compound called Aloesin embedded in a safe natural polymer composite packaged in the form of a bandage. The second feature that makes it superior to the available products is the sustained release of drugs which will accelerate the wound-healing process and reduce the need for frequent replacement of the bandage. So the safety of all the substances used in the making of the scaffold, ease of use, and the degree of innovation will not only make this scaffold a leading wound care product in the market in coming years but will serve as a pioneering approach for the development of similar products using various combinations of compounds and polymers.
Funding Agency: Higher Education Commission
Grant Value: 10 Millon PKR
Project Duration: 24 Months
Name: Dr. Hussain Mustatab Wahedi
Designation: Assistant Professor (TTS)
Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences
Specialization: Regenerative Medicine
Dr. Mahwish Ali has been awarded by a scholarship from the Future Earth Secretariat. The future earth is an international research program which aims to build knowledge about the environmental and human aspects of Global change, and to find solutions for sustainable development. It aims to increase the impact of scientific research on sustainable development. Future Earth Secretariat arranges congress every year to bring together a global community of change makers driven by a common goal to accelerate the global sustainability transformation at the local level. This enable early careers scientists to develop new interactions, potential collaboration and facilitation of participation in the congress.
National University of Medical Sciences(NUMS) hosted a webinar recently to discuss more use of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPSs) by the people instead of chemicals in products such as food, cosmetics and medicines which has created a global market for such products.
The webinar was jointly organized by Department of Biological Sciences and National Agriculture Research Centre. It was attended among others, by an Iranian Representative Dr. Hossein Khassaf, CEO of AROMEDE, (a company involved in this field), Dr. Amir Sultan, Director National Herbarium of Pakistan; Mr. Abdul Hakim Mirjawa, President of Iran-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce; and Raja Zulqarnain Zaka, Assistant Manager, Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company and officials of the ministry of commerce.
The webinar has helped strengthen bilateral trade relations between the two countries while increasing Iranians knowledge of medicinal and aromatic plants. It enhanced Iranian understanding of the history, market, industry, and know-how of MAPs in Pakistan would be a step towards establishing partnership between Pakistan and Iran. Both countries decided to exchange delegations comprising researchers, industrialists, and government officials to further develop their links in this regard.
There are approximately 2000 medicinal plants in Pakistan, a 100 registered herbal companies that manufacture more than 1,000 herbal products and approximately 65,000 traditional practitioners.