FUTA scholar wins international research grant in genetic engineering

One of the leading researchers at the Federal University of Technology Akure, Dr Folashade Olajuyigbe, has won the 2020 International Research Grant from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Collaborative Research Programme (ICGEB-CRP), Italy.

Olajuyigbe a prolific scholar, who won the 2017 Fulbright African Research Scholar Programme (ARSP) award for advanced research in the United States for the 2017/2018 academic year, was awarded the international grant that was keenly contested by applicants from 50 ICGEB member countries at both national and International levels.

Spokesperson of the university, Mr Adegbenro Adebanjo who confirmed the development to on Thursday, said with the grant came her designation as the Principal Investigator for the project entitled “Enzymatic Analysis of the Cellulolytic System of LigninolyticStenotraphmonas sp. and Development of Bifunctional Chimeric Enzyme for Efficient Simultaneous Delignification and Saccharification of Lignocellulose Biomass”.

The research grant application was among the three shortlisted and endorsed by ICGEB liaison office, Abuja, and was evaluated at ICGEB headquarters, Italy based on a two-tier procedure by a committee of internationally recognised experts and peer review by independent external experts.

The grant covers purchase of equipment, consumables, training of researchers, travel and literature to ensure successful completion of proposed project which has potentials for important outcomes on the environment and economy.

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According to Olajuyigbe, “fuels from agricultural wastes are the most promising and sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels based on environmental health benefits, the research in collaboration with Dr. Shams Yazdani, ICGEB, India seeks to investigate the ability of Stenotrophomonas sp. to breakdown cellulose in corn cob and sugarcane bagasse, and develop chimera of biocatalysts for simultaneous removal of lignin and breakdown of cellulose into fermentable sugars.

“Expected results will provide a promising and cost-effective approach to timely conversion of lignocellulose to fermentable sugars.”

In a congratulatory letter conveying the award, ICGEB, Director-General, Dr Lawrence Banks and Head of Fellowship Programme, Barbara Argent said Olajuyigbe won the grant after a comparative evaluation of all submitted project by a committee of 12 scientists of International Standing who found her project worthy of the grant and eligible for funding over a three-year period.

“We wish to congratulate you on receiving this grant and remain confident that your research will constitute a major contribution to the broader ICGEB scientific community,” they stated in the letter.

The vice-chancellor of FUTA, Professor Joseph Fuwape, commended Olajuyigbe, an expert in Enzyme Biotechnology and Environmental Health, Department of Biochemistry, for doing the university and Nigeria proud, stating that the award would boost the image of the university, the country and spur other academics to achieve greater feats in their academic endeavours.

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He said with her pedigree, Olajuyigbe would deliver the research project to the admiration of the international sponsors and other stakeholders and for the benefit of humanity.

ICGEB plays a key role in Biotechnology worldwide for excellence in research, training and technology transfer to industry and its operations are aligned to those of the United Nations System. It was established as a Project of the United Nations Industrial Development; UNIDO in 1983.

It has since evolved into a unique Intergovernmental organisation with 46 state of the art laboratories in different parts of the world.

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