The Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, represented by Dr. David Seruka, a Senior Research Associate at the Ministry on July 21, 2021 commissioned a state-of-the-art Scanning Electron Microscope recently installed at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology.
The new equipment, procured by the government at Shs2.6 billion will help researchers undertake studies and investigations in Materials, Nanotechnology, drug analysis, forensics and biomedical Engineering, among other things.
The grant to procure the equipment was won by Africa Center of Excellence in Materials Product Development and Nanotechnology (MAPRONANO ACE). The equipment was procured under the Presidential Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE) a platform set up by the President in march 2020 to fast track local research and development to develop epidemic response tools.
The head of the Africa Center of Excellence in Materials Product Development and Nanotechnology (MAPRONANO ACE), Professor John Baptist Kirabira, said the equipment can be used in analysis of materials for production of medicine, vaccines, forensic examinations from crime and accident scenes, gene analysis among many others.
Prof. Kirabira said the equipment is special because it can give images and analysis at a very high magnification which can not be done by ordinary microscopes. He said, many people were transporting samples to South Africa and Europe, which is costly. “Now researchers an save this money and instead do their tests at Makerere.” He invited researchers from all other universities as well as the region to take advantage of this equipment.
Dr. Seruka said PRESIDE was to support research and Development efforts by focusing on priority areas of diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, pandemic materials like masks, and epidemiological data. He said the scanning electron microscope is the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. He said, researchers and analysts will no longer travel out of the country to analyze specimen because this machine will be available at Makerere University
The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, thanked the president for his continued support to research and innovation and promised that Makerere University would continue to undertake ground breaking research in health, biomedical engineering, Materials science and contribute to addressing the challenges of the country. He challenged researchers at the university to use this equipment to come up with different vaccines that will help our communities.
He advised the college to charge a small fee to the users so as to ensure proper maintenance of the equipment.
The Principal of the college, Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, also thanked the government for its continued support to CEDAT and science, technology and Innovation at large. He called on staff of the university to make good use of the equipment and carry out research to solve community challenges.