Building collaboration with Ghanaian scientists

The Pawlowic Lab has been hosting a WCAIR Trainee, Mr. Senyo Botchie, since July 2019. While in Dundee, Senyo has been learning the basics of Cryptosporidium culture, detection, and drug discovery.

He was recently featured on the university blog:


The collaborative project with Dr. Irene Ayi was also featured in a brochure put together by the University of Dundee, showcasing projects supported by the GCRF funds:

Dundee for Development


We are proud of what Senyo has accomplished while in Scotland and look forward to continuing to collaborate with him and his supervisor, Dr. Irene Ayi, and her group at the Noguchi Memorial Medical Research Institute at the University of Ghana.

Thanks to WCAIR for sponsoring Senyo’s training and the University of Dundee Global Challenges Research Fund for supporting our growing collaborative research.

UPDATE as of March 1st

We sent 46 boxes of supplies and equipment to Ghana so that Senyo and his lab will have everything they need to carry out our research collaboration. Thanks to Mike and his Stores team for all the help arranging the shipment! Also thanks to Suze Farrell, the other WCAIR trainees, and FedEx for sending this hero-sized shipment!


Our hero!

ImagePackages arrived in Accra! Look at those smiling faces!


UPDATE as of August

Covid delayed Senyo’s access to the lab and to the qPCR machines (that were busy running covid tests)… but eventually he was able to run qPCR assays for detection of Cryptosporidium in clinical samples. Below is his exemplary standard curve!

In late June, Dr. Ayi, Senyo, and the lab took a trip to the field to collect fecal samples from school-aged children with assistance from community workers. This included a boat ride!


Senyo’s group took the fecal samples back to the lab, extracted DNA, and analysed each sample for the presence of Cryptosporidium using qPCR. This method allows us to detect which species of Cryptosporidium is responsible for the infection (C. parvum or C. hominis) and also quantifies how much Cryptosporidium is present in the sample.

UPDATE as of October

Senyo found that approximately a third of the samples collected from the field were positive for Cryptosporidium! He then took the samples with the highest number of parasites, and purified parasites from the fecal material to get pure parasites to work with.

Senyo building capacity for Cryptosporidium research within the Ayi Lab.

He had a look down the microscope and saw this:

UPDATE as of December, 2020

Senyo, Dr. Irene Ayi, and another WCAIR trainee publish a short communication on their efforts to develop natural product drug discovery for cryptosporidiosis in Africa. Click below to view the publication:


Thanks to Dr. Irene Ayi for starting Cryptosporidium research in Ghana and for all her support in this collaboration.

Dr. Irene Ayi, Senior Research Fellow at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research

Thanks to contract and research services offices at both University of Dundee, University of Ghana, and Noguchi.

Thanks to our admin and lab manager teams for processing invoices, tech support for submitting all the orders.

Thanks to Stores for helping us ship items to Ghana.

Thanks to the WCAIR training program for supporting Senyo and the project (Suze, Lauren, Catharine, Ola, Sandra, all the trainees).

Thanks to the rest of the lab for supporting this collaborative project! For squeezing into a tiny office and for sharing your enthusiasm for Cryptosporidium.

And a big thanks to Alistair Strickland and the University of Dundee GCRF team for funding the project and all the support along the way.

Congrats Beatrice and Emma!

Congrats to Beatrice on the success of her project application to the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research. Ross provided supporting data, ideas, and writing. Beatrice was awarded £10,000 for her project. She had to win over all of WCAIR with a 5 minute “pitch”, then write a 2 page application, and present to the WCAIR management board. It was worth it though, and we’re all excited to see her develop the project over the next year!



Congrats to Emma for being selected for a travel grant from hellobio!

Emma was also awarded a conference travel grant from the Disease Models & Mechanisms and The Company of Biologists Limited.

This will support her travel to attend the Keystone Meeting “Tissue Organoids as Models of Host Physiology and Pathophysiology of Disease” in Vancouver in January 2020.




You can read more about it here:

Autumn 2019 Happenings

Thanksgiving is a tradition for the Pawlowic lab, and this year we took things to a new level! Thanks to everyone for cooking and making it another great lab event.


Seal sighting by Matt during an early morning run down by the V and A Museum quickly became the highlight of the week!


Thanks to Sharon, we’re working on our green thumbs in the lab allotment behind the building. We planted a bit late this year, but are greatly looking forward to the spring.


Ali Floyd, our WCAIR Public Engagement Manager showed off his singing chops as the closing act at Dundee’s Pride Festival this year. He also helped organise another great “Street Foods” event (Mattie and Fabio take a “cellfie” with a skeleton) in between giving tours of the DDU).

Professor Annette MacLeod gave an inspiring keynote lecture at this years BCDD retreat. We learned that trypanosomes are found in the skin, the skin is a “reservoir” for transmission, and that the diversity of human genomes of African populations is understudied and under-represented. Looking forward to seeing her work featured at the exhibit at the National Museum of Scotland, free and opening in December.



Mattie attended a Fellows day at The Royal Society and got a huge surprise when she was seated for dinner with the current president, Venki Ramakrishnan!


UK Parasitology is a small world- at the Royal Society I got to spend the day with Clare Harding, a new Toxo scientist in Glasgow, and her 3 month old baby. And it was a great surprise to hear Steven Spoel, a plant biologist from Edinburgh, speak about his experience as a URF. Mattie met his wife just a few months prior when she gave a seminar to the parasitology group at the University of Edinburgh!


Welcome to Senyo, Stephen, and Nina

We have added a few lab members this autumn:

Senyo Botchie joins us from Dr. Irene Ayi’s group at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research in Accra, Ghana. Senyo is a WCAIR trainee visiting to learn the basics of Cryptosporidium detection, in vitro culture, microscopy, and drug discovery.

SLS: Senyo Botchie


Stephen Andrews is an undergraduate student at the University of Dundee who has joined us as an Honours Student. He has become prolific at midipreps, PCR, and DNA cloning. We’re happy to have you!


Nina Svensen, a postdoc in the Drug Discovery Unit, has joined us to set up in vitro drug discovery assays.