Below is a summary of the activities envisioned as part of this programme:
Requirements for applicants
Develop phase: during four months, participants will be exposed to in-depth training modules on molecular biology and bioinformatics skills for 3rd generation sequencing (high molecular weight DNA extraction protocols, Unix command line, Python programming, 2nd and 3rd generation genomics, theory and practice of genome assembly, etc). These training modules will comprise formal lectures and a significant fraction of hands-on sessions. Besides the series of lectures delivered by internationally recognized scientists, a team of tutors (including trainees from the 2018-2020 BixCoP) will provide ad-hoc supervision to trainees during individual and group exercises.
Demonstrate phase: intertwined with the Develop phase and extending for 1.5 month beyond it, this phase will see the trainees engage in project-based learning, building on the skills learnt during the Develop phase, and demonstrate their use in real-life research projects in genomics for agriculture or conservation co-designed with the training team.
Deploy phase: during this last phase of the training, the trainees will return to their home institution, where they will launch a small third-generation genomics unit and implement a research project to address agricultural challenges with direct relevance to their home country or region. Wherever possible, this project will be integrated into research partnerships with ILRI or another OneCGIAR institute in the home country. Trainees will benefit from the support of highly experienced mentors from the BecA-ILRI Hub, its UK-based partners, and the One CGIAR consortium.
In order to guide potential applicants, we set out the following requirements, listed in no particular order:
- The call is open to citizens of African countries affiliated with a research institution on the continent.Applicants will have to demonstrate active support from their home institution. By “support”, we mean administrative and financial support, exempli gratia commitment to discharge the applicants from professional tasks they would have to conduct during the period of the training, financial support to help the returning trainee set up their research project in the Deploy phase, commitment to provide the trainee with a conducive environment for those research activities as well as forthcoming local training activities led by the trainee in coordination with the programme’s managing team, etc.
- The applicant’s home institution should already have a minimal molecular biology lab, with basic equipment for DNA extraction and quality checking, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and gel electrophoresis.
- The applicant’s home institution should commit to equip itself with a MinION starter pack or any other sequencing device enabling native single-molecule sequencing, as well as commit to support the returning trainee with the other start-up costs for their Deploy project (cf. section “Costs/Funding” above).
- Applicants must have a well-thought project in mind, through which they will make use of long-reads genomics as soon as they return to their home institution (Deploy phase)
- Applicants must have earned an MSc in biological sciences, genetics, bioinformatics, biostatistics, biotechnology, agricultural sciences, or other related fields.