The state of Neuroscience in Nigeria

Nigerian Neuroscientist Mahmoud Bukar Maina discussed his research into the state of Neuroscience in Nigeria (“Putting Nigerian neuroscience research under the microscope” – The Conversation Africa).

He outlines some of the key challenges Africans face in bringing our continent to the main table of state-of-the-art scientific resesrch. The following is an excerpt:

“Researchers are working hard to unravel the complex mysteries of the human brain and nervous system, as well as to find treatment for often incurable brain diseases. These neuroscientists are mostly based in Europe, the US, Japan and China. So most of our understanding of the brain comes from the global North, with only minor contributions from places like Africa.

That’s not to say neuroscience isn’t being researched across the continent. But there are huge barriers to innovation and productivity.

Most universities do not have equipmentfor scientific research. And where research is happening, it’s often being carried out using outdated equipment. The lack of reliable power across large stretches of the continent is another issue. This makes it difficult to acquire, use or store common materials used in biomedical research such as antibodies and tissue samples.

For neuroscience, a number of local and international programmes are trying to address these shortcomings. For example the International Brain Research Organisation and the International Society for Neurochemistry have invested in the training of many scientists across Africa. Not for profit bodies like Teaching and Research in Natural Sciences for Development in Africa and Seeding Labshave helped in setting up laboratories in some African countries. Such efforts have helped to boost the neuroscience skills of scientists in many African countries.

But this hasn’t yet levelled the difference in scientific output between researchers in Africa and those in the “global North”. Perhaps bridging this gap and identify methods that could boost the continent’s neuroscience capacity, requires more knowledge about scientists’ challenges and strengths in different countries.

With this in mind, my colleagues and I set out to examine the state of Nigerian neuroscience. By analysing more than 1,200 neuroscience extracted publications from PubMed, a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, we found that Nigerian neuroscience research has its own strengths and shortcomings.”

Read full article at Conversation Africa here.


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