AH Young Scholar of the Month of February 2021

Academic Hive unveils the Young Scholar for the month of February 2021, Harry Akligoh from Ghana!

Harry is an early career researcher with three years working experience in engineering biology, scientific innovation and research and development in local enzyme biomanufacturing.

He is trained as a Medical Laboratory Scientist from the University of Health and Allied Science, Ho and he’s in the final year of his postgraduate studies in Molecular Medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.

Harry works as a researcher with the Open Bioeconomy Lab, a multifaceted research group based at the University of Cambridge, UK with lab nodes in Ghana and Cameroon. He also works as the co-founder of Hive Biolab, an open and collaborative DIY Bio-hacking laboratory in Kumasi, Ghana; where he leads a team of graduate research assistants to raise challenging research questions that we attempt to provide answers to using scientific methods and local materials available to us.

As a researcher, Harry’s interests include; developing novel molecular point of care tests for infectious diseases in Africa using microfluidics and studying microalgae populations in Africa and exploiting their use as chassis for the production of high energy products and compounds.

Harry’s current research with the Open Bioeconomy Lab and collaborators in the US and UK has demonstrated the application of the cellular reagent technology as a tool for overcoming the reagent access challenge in Africa.

Harry was adjudged a winner of the Chevron Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (Chevron STEM) Education award in 2019 for his contribution to promoting STEM education in Africa at the Fab Lab conference in Egypt. He was also selected as the only Ghanaian fellow of the Global Community Bio-summit at the MIT media lab to hone his skills in leadership for building the emerging community biotechnology initiative in Africa.

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Presently, Harry’s research work is focused on using engineering biology to produce DNA polymerases locally and developing a molecular assay for identifying four blood borne pathogens namely; Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis, Treponema pallidum and Candida albicans in a single tube PCR multiple reaction using the home-brewed DNA polymerases. The end goal of the research is to develop an assay which will help African hospital scientists accurately diagnose these infections with very little or no false positive or false negative results.

According to Harry, working in research and the technology transfer process has taught him very hard lessons many of which are hinged on lack of access to reagents and equipment to conduct basic science research. However, our ability as African scientists to embrace multidisciplinary research, frugal and Do-It-Yourself science has the potential of helping us develop low-cost toolkits for conducting our own research. This, he believes will invariably position Africans strategically to find solutions to the very important questions scientists ask regarding problems faced on the continent.

Harry’s final word to graduates and other early to mid-career scientists is that patience in science is a virtue which everyone should develop because the ability to embrace this virtue coupled with persistence leads to knowledge, scientific wisdom and stunning results.

Connect with Harry on Twitter: @harryakligoh and LinkedIn: Harry Akligoh

You can be the next Young Scholar of the month! Nominate here!

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