I had an opportunity to serve as a US Fulbright Scholar in Bangladesh (2011-12). I was stationed at the Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. I initially planned to teach some advanced courses in molecular biology and conduct some research to develop molecular probes to identify common bacterial pathogens in Bangladesh. I found that there are a good number of molecular biologists in the department, so I was asked to teach general biology, immunology, and virology courses instead.
I also found that I should not conduct laboratory research in a foreign country because of biohazard and other issues. As an alternative project, my colleagues of the department, especially Professor Jasmine, asked me to write an upper-level laboratory manual in biochemical sciences. Such manuals were not rarities in book world at that time. The reason I got the task was to develop a laboratory manual that would use inexpensive reagents and equipment easily available in the country at the time. I thought it will be an impossible task, given my unfamiliarity with the potential inventory of reagents and equipment in Bangladesh. However, with the help of some local bioentrepreneurs, especially Professor Mamun Ahmed, and two collaborators, Professors Aftab Uddin and Mahbubur Rashid, I was able to complete writing the manual before I left the country in June 2012. The manual (Discovering Biochemical Sciences: A Laboratory Manual, published in 2013 by ABL, Dhaka; ISBN 984-70270-0016-0). Some of the laboratory experiments we incorporated in the manual were routinely conducted in some forms in some of the biological sciences departments of the university. However, we tried to construct all the exercises as discovery approaches. I was surprised that I completed the manual (456 pages including some 250 figures) using a 10-inch laptop with 4 GB/32 GB memories and an extremely spotty Internet connection.
While revisiting Bangladesh in 2017, I was told by my former colleagues at Dhaka that the manual has been widely used for instruction by biochemical sciences departments of many universities of the country. I hope my coauthors, Professors Uddin and Rashid have revised the manual, rectified any errors, and optimized the manual further by now.
Ruhul Kuddus – Fulbright to Bangladesh 2011