Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams

Course Assistant and Instructor on the Wellcome Connecting Science Global Training Programme

Inspired researcher, Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams, Senior Research Fellow in Bacterial Pathogenesis and Genomics, at University College London, demonstrates the value of investing in learning and training networks, through her own experiences of career development, and collaborations formed, as a result of working with the Wellcome Connecting Science (WCS) Global Training Programme.

In this discerning interview, she reveals the career-enhancing benefits associated with attending, and teaching on, scientific courses with a global presence.

What drew you to working on the WCS Global Training Programme?

Molecular approaches have revolutionised microbiology and how we diagnose infections. However, uptake of molecular microbiology tools has been slow across many parts of Africa, where there remains a heavy dependence on traditional microbiologic approaches. The gaps in molecular microbiology, capacity and capability in Africa have been brought to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic; demonstrating the overwhelming need for accessible training for African scientists.

The courses offered by the WCS Learning and Training Programme contribute to plugging the critical gaps in molecular microbiology across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I am delighted to have been a course assistant and instructor on the WCS Global Training Programme since 2015, providing trainees from all over Africa with critical training in molecular microbiology; enabling them to leave the courses better informed, as well as equipped with skills they can apply to their own work and research activities.

How has your participation with the WCS Global Training Programme impacted your own career?

As an assistant and instructor on the WCS Global Training Programme, I relish the unique opportunity to contribute to the courses, whilst also learning from colleagues, as well as the trainees themselves, who all have diverse research interests and backgrounds.

I have also been privileged to provide mentorship to former trainees, providing an opportunity to how they advance and flourish in their careers and respective fields, after participating on the WCS Global Training Programme. 

Through participating in the WCS Global Training Programme, I have managed to forge important networks and collaborations which have proved critical to my own career progression.

What research value came from the collaborations forged with participants?

Through the WCS Global Training Programme, I have developed key networks and collaborations across the UK and Africa including: at the Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Clinical Sciences; the Swiss Centre for Scientific Research in Côte d’Ivoire (CSRS); and the University of Oxford.

I have been able to leverage valuable collaborations with leading scientific institutes to attract competitive funding and career opportunities.

What are the key benefits of the WCS Global Training programme, from your perspective? 

The WCS Global Training Programme provides critical, in-depth, and hands-on training for scientists from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, who would typically be unable to access such resources. Participants have the unique opportunity to be trained by instructors who are global leaders in their respective fields, whilst developing application-based skills and knowledge.

Furthermore, participation in these programmes provides a platform for instructors, course assistants and trainees with common interests to enlarge their networks and foster new collaborations.

I know several trainees that have successfully leveraged the skills and partnerships gained from WCS Global Training Programme courses to advance their careers, many obtaining doctorates, winning competitive funding, publishing their work in top journals or getting fantastic post-doctoral positions.

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