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Establishment of a FEBS African Youth Travel Fund

Recently Prof. Karel Wirtz, chairman of the FEBS Advanced Courses Committee, attended the Fourth Congress of the Federation of African Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (FASBMB) which was held in Yaounde, Cameroon (November 25-28, 2003). This meeting was hosted by the Cameroon Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and was organized with financial support of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), IUBMB and FEBS. Chairman of the meeting was Prof. Vincent Titanji, President of FASBMB, (University of Buea) who was very effectively assisted by Prof. Wilfred Mbacham (University of Yaounde). Along the theme ‘Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for the Development of Africa’ most lectures focused on HIV/AIDS and parasitic diseases, such as malaria, river blindness, sleeping sickness, but also on malnutrition and epidemiology of certain cancers. Apart from lectures, many posters were presented giving young researchers an opportunity to discuss their results. 

In talking to these young people Prof. Wirtz was struck by their enormous dedication and inspiring enthusiasm for biochemical research, mostly focussed on finding cures for the diseases that criple many people young and old in the African countries. Since progress in this field of research requires knowledge about the most modern techniques in biochemistry and molecular cell biology, he discovered that there was a great demand from the young researchers to have a chance to learn about these techniques by attending FEBS Advanced Courses. A proposal to this end was accepted by the FEBS Council in Warsaw (June 30, 2004). As a result a FEBS African Youth Travel Fund has now been established effective as of September 1, 2004. This implies that the organizer of  a FEBS Advanced Course is allowed to accept 1-2 students from Africa and that the expenses to attend this course are covered from this fund. For details on how to apply one is referred to the FEBS webpage ( www.febs.unibe.ch/Activities/Activties.htm   ;  item Special Fund for African Students).