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.
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 4 field 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.