Applied Genetics Testing Centre receives national award

THE National University of Science and Technology’s (NUST) Applied Genetics Testing Centre (AGTC) has been conferred with the Medal of Meritorious Service Commendation Award by his Excellency, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

The AGTC, since its establishment in 2014 as the country’s first centre for DNA Testing services, has distinguished itself as a centre of excellence for human and livestock identification, medical diagnosis and forensic analysis.

It has performed over 3 000 human and DNA identification tests, servicing clients across the country and collaborating with foreign laboratories in the United Kingdom and Australia in human identification for immigration purposes.

The country’s premier DNA Testing Centre offers forensic services to different Government departments including the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Civil Protection Unit (CPU).

AGTC has assisted in the identification of complex forensic and national disaster victims, notably, victims who were burnt beyond recognition in road traffic accidents in the Mvuma Bus Disaster (23 victims), Mvurwi Bus Accident (11 victims), Guruve Commuter Omnibus (6 victims), West Nicholson Bus Disaster (32 victims), Beitbridge (4 Victims) and an explosion in Lionsden (5 victims).

It has solved over 1 000 forensic cases for the Zimbabwe Republic Police including murder, sexual assault, unlawful entry and stock-theft.

The Centre is currently working on the identification of over 150 Cyclone Idai Zimbabwean Victims who were buried unidentified in Mozambique. The complex exercise is set to be completed in October 2021.

When Covid-19 hit the country in early 2020, AGTC used its equipment and deployed staff to set up a PCR Testing Centre at the National TB Reference Laboratory at Mpilo Hospital from April to December 2020, servicing five provinces of Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Midlands. By the time the Government took over the testing programme, AGTC had tested over 40 000 samples.

Currently, AGTC is leading a research in the development of capacity to produce Covid-19 (and other pathogens) testing reagents, a major breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic and handling of other diseases like HIV/Aids.

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