Precious Cornerstone University pools researchers for second biotechnology confab

In its determination to expand the frontiers of knowledge and proffer solutions to mankind’s myriad challenges, the Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan, Oyo State, on Tuesday drew researchers/scientists from within and outside Nigeria for a four-day ‘Recent Advances in Biotechnology Conference and Workshop’ (RAIB) – the second in the series.

The first such workshop on biotechnology was held in February 2020. It drew researchers from Nigeria, Asia, Europe and South Africa, among others.

The 2021 edition is themed ‘Driving the SDGs in the Next Decade’.

In his address at the opening of the conference/workshop, the vice-chancellor, Professor Julius Oloke, noted that the first edition of the conference was followed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic – a challenge which he said his team comprising researchers from PCU and other institutions rose stoutly to by constructing two vaccines.

“Our team is almost rounding off with the animal trial of the vaccines. Since clinical trials of the vaccines will require a lot of money, we urgently need investors who may be willing to join our team in making the vaccines a worthwhile project,” he said.

He also used the occasion to intimate participants at the conference that PCU’s erstwhile temporary operation licence had been upgraded to permanent status following a resource verification visit by the National Universities Commission early in the year.

Professor Oloke also spoke of the university’s five new programmes for which the NUC conducted a resource verification visit to the institution in August.

These are B.Sc Mass Communication, B.Sc International Relations, B.Sc Procurement Management, B.Sc Software Engineering and B.Sc Cybersecurity.

Keynote speakers on the opening day of the 2021 RAIB conference include Professor Sabu Thomas, vice-chancellor, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, India, who spoke on ‘Engineering at the Nanoscale: A Strategy for Developing High-Performance Functional Bio-Materials’.

Others are Professor Su Shiung Lam (University of Malaysia), ‘Macrowave Pyrolysis Conversion of Waste to Value-added Products as Promising Approach for Circular Waste Management’; Professor Farombi, University of Ibadan, ‘Role of Biotechnology in the Sustainable Development of New Therapeutic Signatures’; Professor Ganiyu Oboh, Federal University of Technology, Akure, ‘Functional Foods, nutraceuticals and phytomedicine: The new wave of managing degenerative and infectious diseases’; Professor Emmanuel Unuabonah, Redeemer’s University, Ede, ‘Environmental Sustainability; Looking forward’ and Professor Yerima Mohammed Bello, Federal University, Dutse, ‘Algal Biotechnology and Emerging Bioeconomy’.

The vice-chancellor of the Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State, Professor Adeniyi Olayanju, in his address at the conference, bemoaned the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on the global agricultural system, Nigeria inclusive, adversely affecting food production/supply, and leading to substantial logistic disruptions, shortages in migrant labour and huge amounts of wasted agricultural output.

According to him, these necessitate serious attention to be paid to new initiatives in the nation’s agricultural practices to ensure real food security for the next generation of Nigerians.

“There is, therefore, need for synergy between the duo of biotechnology and bio-resources engineering professional, by integrating engineering science and design with applied biological, environmental and agricultural science,” he said.f

Professor Olayanju, therefore, expressed the belief that the eggheads at this year’s conference would proffer “sustainable solutions” to the ever-increasing global challenges through advances in technology.

The event also featured the launch of the Nigerian Post-Harvest and Food Biotechnology Society, founded and headed by Dr Charles Olatunji.

The goal of the society, according to Olatunji, is to offer a home for the more than 12 million farmers in Nigeria and link them to the academic elite of the country as well as building business relationships with post-harvest food handlers.

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