Professor Mpoloka at University of Pennsylvania for Research Capacity Building

MpolokaA University of Botswana lecturer, Professor Wata Mpoloka, is in the United States of America on a three-month attachment on vaccine development at the University of Pennsylvania.  

Professor Mpoloka’s attachment is a sequel to the Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris’s engagement with institutions of higher learning in the United States of America last year. Among the institution he visited was the University of Pennsylvania where he sought research collaboration opportunities for staff and students.

Professor Mpoloka is a biological science lecturer in the Faculty of Science. He possesses a BSc (Biology and Environmental Science), MSc Plant Molecular Biology and a PhD Molecular and Cell Biology. He is currently conducting vaccine research on lumpy skin disease in the UB labs besides supervising a PhD candidate from Botswana Vaccination Institute (BVI) on Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine. He is also working with yet another PhD candidate from Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) on lumpy skin disease vaccine.

The aim of spending three months at the University of Pennsylvania is for Professor Mpoloka to acquire skills in vaccine production and technologies as well as capacity building for UB and the country. UPenn has a long-standing relationship with the government of Botswana and UB through which expertise is mutually shared in areas of medicine, research and capacity building.

Professor Mpoloka will be under the expertise of Dr Drew Weissman who is the Director of the Vaccine Research, infectious Diseases and Institute of RNA Innovation at UPenn. He is acclaimed for the production of COVID-19 vaccines. Together with his team, he invented a modified technology for Pfizer-BioNtech MRNA and Moderna’s vaccine. Currently they are working on a pan-coronavirus vaccine to stop future corona virus epidemics among other potentially lifesaving vaccines.

Professor Mpoloka said in an interview with UB News that his intention was to understand how vaccines were developed and executed. His aim is to be skilled enough to develop technology for industry use as well as capacity building to reducing Botswana’s import bill on vaccines.

In addition, he expressed hope that the University of Botswana would invest more funds on research labs to transfer skills to students so that ultimately the university would be able to attract funding and collaboration with industry.

In pursuit of academic excellence