A medical research centre in Gabon is stepping up its efforts to become a world-class global health research centre.
The International Medical Research Centre, based in Franceville in southeast Gabon, has strong research infrastructure and is primarily funded by the French oil company Total.
But it fell into disarray in the 1990s, with local management and expatriate researchers clashing over administrative matters, high staff turnover and a corruption scandal.
The centre has lacked a coherent research strategy in the past, say commentators. Jean-Paul Gonzalez, the new director-general, wants the centre to focus on emerging infectious diseases and become an international centre for research into diseases such as Ebola.
There are also plans to start research into how biodiversity affects the emergence and transmission of disease. The centre wants to take advantage of the 'back-to-basics' shift in current AIDS research to become a leader in studying wild retroviruses and testing HIV vaccines in its primatology centre — one of the largest in Africa.