Hands-On Plant Molecular Biology Laboratory Training

University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic, West Africa

Date: 22nd-29th June 2020

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Saturday, 29th February 2020!

Theme: Training African agricultural researchers to tackle food and nutrition insecurity through research and innovation.

We are pleased to partner with the Laboratory of Genetics, Horticulture and Seed Science, School of Plant Science at the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic to hold a second 'Plant Molecular Biology Workshop' supported by the University of Cambridge's Global Challenges Research and the Cambridge-Africa Alborada Fund.  The workshop is part of JR Biotek Foundation's new initiative called 'Reach & Teach Science in Africa', which was developed to strengthen research capacity in African countries.

The Workshop participation is free, but selected candidates will be required to pay for their onward and return travel to Benin Republic. To apply, please complete the application form below after reading the instructions.


The 6-day workshop aims to equip 30 agricultural researchers (PhD students and early career postdoctoral scientists) from universities and national research institutes in sub-Saharan Africa with knowledge and hands-on experience in plant molecular biology laboratory techniques and applications in agricultural research. The workshop will be taught by researchers from the University of Cambridge and is based around exploring molecular aspects of crop productivity (identifying plant genotypes, testing gene and protein expression levels, measuring starch and sugar levels as well as analysing the plant nutritional status) with focus on the following techniques:

1. DNA extraction and amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
2. RNA extraction and quality control
3. Protein extraction and analysis
4. Quantification of nitrogen, starch, and soluble sugars in different plant tissues
5. Bioinformatics (data analysis with R)

The participants will spend 50% of the time in the laboratory to gain hands-on experience in molecular biology techniques, and will have the chance to analyse the obtained data and discuss the background theory of the techniques during the remaining time.

The participants will also attend the UK-Africa Food Security Symposium 2020 at the University of Abomey-Calavi in Benin on Monday, 29th and Tuesday, 30th June 2020. The theme of the symposium is ‘Developing practical solutions to solve food and nutrition insecurity in Africa’. The symposium will bring together high-profile guests, speakers, delegates and key stakeholders from the UK (including the African diaspora) and Africa to discuss the challenges, opportunities and prospects of agriculture and agricultural research in Africa.


Applications are encouraged from PhD students and early career postdoctoral scientists involved in agricultural research at an African university.


- English proficiency
- Strong background in agricultural research
- Demonstrated need to acquire new scientific knowledge and skills to improve your research and teaching
- Involved in teaching or training others at an African university (this is optional for PhD students)


There is no fee to participate in the workshop, but selected candidates will be required to sponsor their travel (return) to Benin Republic. We will provide accommodation (9 nights), meals (breakfast and lunch) and other training-related costs (e.g. training materials). Please factor in the cost for dinner and local transport upon your arrival to Benin Republic.

Training African Researchers at Cambridge University 2018