MISSION AND RATIONALE
Our Mission is to help in societal and economic growth through developing the nation’s science. Our goals are to promote the use of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster in order to (1) advance biomedical research in our country and (2) improve the teaching of Nigerian curriculum-relevant biology. Some of these aspects have already been successfully implemented in other African nations.
But why the fruit fly Drosophila? For over a century, Drosophila melanogaster has been a model organism at the forefront of biomedical research and is the insect behind 10 Nobel laureates in medicine and physiology. This is due to the fly’s efficient genetics (ideal to unravel complex biology), short generation cycle (speeding up research), cheap and easy ways to keep large amounts of stocks (making research affordable to even those on low budgets), and high degree of evolutionary conservation (so that gained knowledge is often applicable to the biology of humans or farm animals) and a perfect model which suits the 3Rs of research (no ethical clearance and licience requirement needed) Drosophila can also be used as a model for cancer, neurodegeneration, malaria research, pesticide resistance or population genetics to name but a few. For Nigeria this offers powerful strategies to carry out cutting edge research at affordable costs, thus enhancing training opportunities and freeing resources for infrastructure investments to strengthen our research environment.
We promote this powerful model not only to improve the science landscape; we will also bring fruit flies as living animals into school classrooms. As explained on the droso4schools website, Drosophila is an ideal tool to enhance curriculum-relevant biology teaching, based on its unique conceptual knowledge base and supported by exciting and memorable anecdotes and micro-experiments. By using flies for the teaching and learning of secondary school biology, we aim to stimulate students, enhance their problem solving abilities, and introduce them to contemporary research right from the grassroots, thus helping to build the Nigerian Drosophila community and achieve our Sustainable Development Goals.
Scientists: We want to raise awareness among biomedical scientists about the potentials of using fly, and to help generate a Nigerian community of “drosophilists”. By building such a network we hope to promote communication, mutual support and common goal setting for interested researchers. Furthermore, we want to bridge the gap of understanding between scientists and the society and use our networks to effectively communicate our strategies and findings to the community – with the clear aim of gaining support from the wider public, other scientist groups and eventually politicians. One concrete goal within this remit is to establish scientist-teacher collaborations. Scientists can learn from teachers about pedagogy and the technical aspects of effectively and adequately communicating their science in schools. Teachers and students will gain from scientists’ conceptual science knowledge, insights into university life and clearer views of contemporary research. The aim is not to turn research scientists into classroom teachers, but rather to use collaborations to embed relevant science in meaningful ways into the school curriculum, and to develop scientific communication skills through mutual exchange and co-creation between different groups of professional.
Teachers: The rise and fall of a nation depends greatly on its education, and teachers are important facilitators to create and sustain a healthy society. There are numerous topics in our curriculum for which Drosophila melanogaster can be used as a teaching strategy (for examples see droso4schools). We aim to raise awareness among teachers and help them understand and adopt available resources and strategies. For this, we aim to send volunteers into schools to assist teachers with teaching and introduce them to lesson contents and use of presentations, animations, films and micro-experiments. Please, get in touch so that we can discuss ways forward.
Students: Every student is a future consumer and benefactor of scientific research. The website offers an opportunity for interested student to read around the topics and explore the world of fly research, stimulate their curiosity and provide an environment in which to bring the science in them to fruition.
The public: To raise awareness of the importance of biological research and the opportunities provided by using Drosophila as a powerful and feasible investigative strategy to achieve advance in the biomedical sciences.