INTERVIEW with Desktop Genetics-Founder Riley Doyle about the CRISPR hype and on how to best use it

Based in London, Desktop Genetics is startup that combines the two buzz words in science: CRISPR and machine learning. We met them at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna and we spoke with their Chief Executive Officer and Technical Lead, Riley Doyle.
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Lou Koboji´s startup in the South Sudan – Update

In April, we introduced you to the work of Dr Lou L Koboji and his Kajo-Keji Health Training Institute. Since then a lot has happened.

The Ministry of Health Republic of South Sudan has become a new grant funder of the institute and is now paying monthly operational costs. Together with the Segal Family Foundation, Indiegogo and other private sponsors a total grant of $38,500 (USD) was received in the first quarter of this year. In addition, an earned income of $67,598 (USD) was raised in form of tuition fees. These are paid by organisations and foundations for particular students or by the students themselves.

The construction of further facilities has been going ahead. Solar units have been installed and the boys hostel has been renovated. End of July, the new teaching block with four classrooms and an office room was finished under the funding of Segal Family Foundation.

Currently 208 students are studying at the institute. In total 77 new students from South Sudan were admitted in 2016 and additionally, 3 students from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan now also are studying in Kajo-Keji.

Big news is that Dr Koboji and the KKHTI will be opening a new study centre in Uganda to take care of refugee students. Currently, they are still looking for fundings – they already successfully raised $89,000 (USD), however, still have a gap of $112,000 (USD).

All in all, one can say, that the teaching by the institute has been a positive impact on the health education in South Sudan and soon in the nearby countries.
So far, the students of at Kajo-Keji have reached over 34.000 people with community based health education and services and they have been teaching classes on health and STI education at 8 secondary and 13 primary schools.
In addition, more than 1.680 patients have been diagnosed and treated during the hospital attachment of the students and over 300 mothers have been attended to within the frame of maternal child health.
As Dr Koboji was initially motivated to improve the health care system in South Sudan by the death of Mrs. Kiden, a mother who died in Terekeka during childbirth, maternal and child health care is the first priority at the institute. It is ensured that the students do not miss a single hour in the maternity ward, antenatal clinic and paediatric ward. Also, in October this year, training for midwifes to address the problems of maternal health care is started at Kajo-Keji.

Before the end of this year, the year-three students are expected to take the final exams before graduating and returning to their home states. 50 students have already sat for their final national health professional examinations. They have met the requirements and will be graduating in January. Aciro and William are two of these students and we are hoping to accompany them during their transition from their learning period at the institute to the application of their knowledge at their new work places.

As it stands, the Kajo-Keji Health Training Institute will continue to grow, as Dr Koboji plans to build the new study centre in Uganda as well as to offer more attachments for the students within hospitals and nursing by December in South Sudan. And Dr Koboji’s mission will stay the same – improving the health care in Africa.