The MRC laboratories
was founded in Gambia back in 1947 when the WWII British Army
Hospital was handed over to Medical Research Council. Its
main unit is at Fajara on the Atlantic Road.
MRC is financed by the UK Government
and it represents the UK's single largest medical research investment in a developing country.
The unit's research concentrates on communicable diseases of direct
concern to The Gambia and the African continent, for the purpose of
minimising the burden of illness and mortality in the country and the
developing world as a whole. It is conducts research in nutrition,
reproductive health and non-communicable diseases.
research programme of the unit covers basic scientific research
(microbiology, virology, immunology, and molecular biology),
clinical trials and interventionist studies, developing vaccines,
large-scale epidemiological surveys. Some of the diseases
studied are tuberculosis's, malaria, HIV / Aids virus. The
field and laboratory-based work relies on modern, well equipped
research and clinical facilities and attracts international
funding. Facilities include: cold centrifuge, hot room, light
and fluorescent microscopes, refrigerators and freezers, incubators,
RNA Ribolizer, BACTEC 9000 MB, MGIT Culture system, Cryostorage,
Cat 3 facility, etc.
The staff list consists of around 200 scientists, clinicians and
senior administrative staff from many parts of the world, as well as
hosting many visiting researchers, and over 500 support staff. Aside from MRC's research centre in Fajara, there are also
stations which are at Keneba, Farafenni, Wali Kunda, Basse as well as
1 in Caio in Guinea Bissau. The Gambia offers a unique setting for
bench, bush and bedside studies.
HIV / Aids:
Studies from the MRC
field station in Caio, Guinea-Bissau, where approximately 8% of adults
are infected with HIV-2, show that survival is not affected by HIV-2
status for the great majority of infected adults. The plasma viral
load is significantly lower in HIV-2 compared to HIV-1-infected people
despite a similar pro-viral load at the same stage of infection. The
lower viremia is likely responsible for the low sexual and perinatal
HIV-2 transmission. However, a minority of people with HIV-2 infection
behave as progressors, with high levels of plasma virus and declining
CD4+ T cell levels, leading to a clinical picture indistinguishable
from AIDS caused by HIV-1.
First work on
nutritional problems at Geneiri, 100 miles up the Gambia River.