WACCBIP Student Spotlight – Ethel Blessie
The Public Engagement team caught up with Miss Ethel Juliet Blessie for the student spotlight of the week. She is a final year PhD student with the West African Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP). For Miss Ethel Blessie, getting to conduct research at WACCBIP is a rewarding experience coupled with knowledge, creativity, hard work and enthusiasm.
Her research study with the Laboratory for Chemical Systems Biology of Infectious Pathogens seeks to discover compounds that can be developed into drugs to cure most of the common fungal infections we have in Ghana. We had an exciting interaction with her and she had a lot more to share.
What was it like growing up?
I grew up in the small community of Laterbiokorshie, in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. I was very curious as a child which made me to interact with many wonderful people and learned so much from them. I like reading African Novels. I also like to travel and visit historic places.
What were your future aspirations as a child?
Sincerely speaking, I wanted to be a medical doctor because I wanted to understand the causes of genetic diseases after a close relative suffered from it. Even though I didn’t become a medical doctor, my current field has given me the opportunity to understand the genetic basis of most diseases in Africa. I am thankful and excited for this opportunity especially since it is closely linked to what I see myself doing in the future.
Can you share some interesting findings of your research?
My main research topic is “Discovery and development of novel antifungal compounds from marine endophytic fungal sources”. So far, I have many active fractions against C. albicans and some of the common fungal pathogens we have here in Ghana. I am working on isolating compounds from these fractions. I have five promising compounds at the moment.
Some of the challenges of my research include lack of local expertise in repairing some of the machines and equipment I use. Also, challenges in clearing reagents at the port. However, I have received a lot of help from foreign faculty members in analyzing most of my samples.
What do you like about WACCBIP?
The opportunities that WACCBIP offers are enormous and exciting. I have been trained excellently as a young talented African scientist through the knowledge and skills acquired in my learning and research pursuits. A lot has been learnt from the numerous top notch foreign faculties,workshops and conferences organized, especially the annual WACCBIP research conference. WACCBIP is well-equipped and offers a conducive atmosphere for learning.
Any experience you can share from workshops, seminars and conferences?
I really enjoyed the seminar of Prof. Dr. James Adjaye from the Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany about Induced pluripotent stem cells. The benefit of this technique is that it will be possible to develop patient specific treatments and cure for most diseases. I personally seek to employ this in understanding the effects of drugs am developing on re-generated hepatocytes,which will be a great impact in the scientific world in the next decade.
Ethel had her Bachelor’s Degree at the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (BCMB) in 2010, at the University of Ghana. She undertook her postgraduate studies at the University of the West of England UK. On her favorite food, she said ‘I cannot live without Gari and Beans”.