ScreenTB hits one-year milestone

Partners of the ScreenTB project came together for their first progress meeting in Windhoek, Namibia on 4 and 5 April 2017. The meeting, which was hosted by investigators from the University of Namibia (UNAM), marked the end of the first year of the project and provided an opportunity to review the progress made so far, plan ahead for the remaining 24 months of the project and renew the focus and commitment of all partners involved.

The very productive two meeting days did not only include status updates on the project activities and the clinical trial but also lively discussions on mentorship and a practical exercise on career development plans, focusing in particular on the needs of young African researchers.

The ScreenTB consortium also seized the opportunity to visit the UNAM research lab, which had undergone significant capacity development in previous months. The local team presented the newly acquired lab equipment acquired and demonstrated the workflows established for handling of ScreenTB clinical samples.

Seizing the momentum of hosting the ScreenTB progress meeting, the UNAM team had also organized an evening symposium entitled “New bullets against an old enemy - the future of tuberculosis diagnostics and the role of new science” on the last meeting day. The symposium took place at the UNAM School of Medicine and attracted a large number of students, scientists and professional care givers. The list of speakers included ScreenTB investigators Dr. Emmanuel Nepolo and Dr. Gunar Günther from UNAM, ScreenTB coordinator Prof. Gerhard Walzl, the Namibian national TB programme officer Dr. Nunurai Ruswa as well as Prof. Stefan Niemann, a leading expert on mycobacteria from Germany.

ScreenTB consortium members were impressed with the high quality of the talks and specifically the vibrant discussions and relevant and critical questions from the audience of students and field workers. It became very clear that research at UNAM has a lot of potential. Thus, it is not surprising that in the aftermath of the meeting and symposium, plans have been made to strengthen the collaborative ties between individual partners and UNAM in the future.