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“My Plan in Eritrea is to create a Center for Nanotechnology” Part II

Aman Russom, Associate Professor, at the division of Proteomics and Nanobiotechnolgy at HTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm Sweden, have been very keen in acquiring knowledge in disciplines he is interested most. Making use of what he has learnt in Sweden so as to promote Eritrea’s healthcare service is a desire he cherished for a long period of time. To make libratory tests simpler through applying microchips and generally through applying what nanotechnology could provide is what Dr. Aman believes a best solution to find timely solution to delays in medical reports.


He formed a new research group back in Sweden just from scratch so as to conduct independent researches as of 2009. All the efforts he has been exerting are due to an intensified curiosity to make a difference. Apart from Dr. Aman, members of this small group were two masters’ degree students working in an empty room yet to be filled with laboratory equipment.

What Dr. Aman continued to do when he came back from Harvard is to prove his competence through joining to another department in his former school- Royal Institute of Technology.  There,  he has proven to be more than competent and thus his former position of assistant professor was promoted to an associate professor in 2013 and he is looking ahead to become full professor in the coming two years.

He has gained good experience in abroad but he wants to relate and see the fruits of his academic carrier in an Eritrean context. Relaying on the idea that nanotechnology is a new area of research that goes well not only with developed countries but also in the third world countries, he wants to make contribution in this respective field particularly to apply in the health sector.

As Dr. Aman’s research area is in cutting edge technology, which he believes is an enabling technology even in the future, tech transfer is at the top most of his plans which he wants to adhere to in his engagement to contribute what he could in his country.  At his present level of competence he is confident that he has the technological knowhow and a capacity to share it with his fellow Eritreans. “This technology (nanotechnology) would enable Eritrea to really expand its capacity.” Dr. Aman reiterated.

All his ideas of nanotechnology mainly give an emphasis to the health sector. Nanotechnology is a best answer to make analysis of acute health problems and to get diagnostic answer as soon as possible. According to Dr. Aman, he and his research group have been developing new chips that correspond with a new research area they set out to accomplish.

What is more is that through these technological breakthroughs, “point of care diagnostics” would become possible in Eritrea. Hence, medical experts would go to the point where the patient is and conduct the analysis there with the assistance of microchips designed to fit with each case. This point of care diagnostics is an area Dr. Aman wants to work in with intensified dedication. Having a technology that allows the test to be conducted at the point and making this happen is what Dr. Aman’s wants to make a contribution.

According to Dr. Aman, the introduction of point of care diagnostics is mainly aimed at decentralizing a laboratory. What Eritrea lacks is not the human power but the equipment that supports the assessment. So, the nanotechnology is an interesting and motivating field which Dr. Aman hoped to reach in the hands of Eritrean in the coming three-to- five years. Conducting researches and developing such chips in collaboration with Eritreans is what he is interested in. Through this collaboration Eritrean researchers will have a say on how to design and shape and develop a kit that works as per the local demand.

Developing new technologies so as to combat health problems that are typically prevalent in a respective locality is an effective solution to tackle recurring challenges in the health sector. Dr. Aman cited Eritrea’s success in the prevention of malaria as a best success story. But, Eritrea has registered such an achievement through prevention strategies rather than cure.

Making diagnostics better, cheaper and easier with coverage to all regions of the country is now the point of his interest. Simplifying a medical test through applying cost effective technology is the focal point which Dr. Aman wants to be realized in Eritrea.  How to make a simple test that is interpretable by any nurse or by somebody who doesn’t necessarily need to be an expert. The chips we design are specifically made to be easily run using batteries so as to make them accessible in rural areas.

Innovation has ensured the very existence of different devices that would have by now been out of date. A number of tools and different equipment have been modified so as to meet current demands.

Dr. Aman finally wants to share and convey a message to all Eritrean youth in inside the country and in the abroad through sharing a wonderful innovative work the credit of which goes to him and other members of his research group.  This innovative work which took them 4 years to be finalized was realized in 2013. He puts his ideas of the innovative work as follows:

DVD player has been developed for the last 30 years and the optics of this device is almost perfect. This device works perfect in all climates be it in Alaska or sub-Saharan Africa. So, what we did with that technology is that we modified the DVD to use it as HIV tester which was very successful. It is a huge research in which more than 15 people have been involved. We have done this and I leave to the youth to go beyond it and do what they could. This would not have been possible if we did not think out of the box. We used a technology developed for a completely different purpose to conduct medical test.

We published the result of our research on international papers and we have got a good coverage worldwide. More than 24 countries have given coverage to this work in their media outlets. The reason for using DVD players for a different purpose is that due to its availability in mass production and for it is cheap. You need a technology which is robust and also easily manageable even in outreach areas. Adapting a technology that is already mature and applying it for a different purpose through some modification is the easiest, cheapest and also the most effective means to tackle challenges. Nanotechnology is a field that combines medicine and cutting edge technology together.

“Education is a ground where one makes investment for life. We learn until we die. We need to dream big.” Dr. Aman explains. Creating a platform that enables students from different disciplines interact among one anther is what he believes a way that could open a gate for versatility.

Breaking down one’s dreams in to smaller pieces is the reason for his success and he believes this would not be different with other Eritrean youth. Dr. Aman sums up his message with a saying: ” Aim for the sky in worst case scenario you will reach the end of a tree.”

Dr. Aman has so far made three visits to Eritrea in the period between 1997 and 2014. Tech transfer is an area which he wants to work diligently. He said “I have a disease called Eritreanism and it has always been my dream to support Eritrea and Eritrea has a good position to make use of any available technology replying on its human capacity.”

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