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Caribbean public health sector to benefit from US $1.1 million towards infectious disease research.

For Release Upon Receipt - Monday, December 3, 2018

The Caribbean public health sector is poised to benefit from a US$1.1 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty International Center which will be handed over to the SUNY UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development. The Center is a product of collaboration between two major educational institutions—State University of New York (SUNY) and The University of the West Indies (The UWI) —deeply committed to the development and growth of their respective constituents and the well-being of humanity.

SUNY’s campus at Buffalo, New York, will lead the five-year Global Infectious Diseases Research Training Programme which will focus on a virology research programme and train 15 scientists including graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. The announcement of the award, which is part of a larger SUNY-UWI collaboration, was made at the programme’s launch, held at The UWI Regional Headquarters in Jamaica on November 2, 2018. The launch event introduced the first four of the 15 scientists who will be involved in the programme. They are Dr Inshan Ali, a clinical microbiology resident; Chadwick Mears, a master’s student in medical biology; Dr Michelle Brown, a specialist in epidemiology of viral hepatitis and treatment in Jamaica and Tiffany Butterfield, a PhD student in co morbidities in HIV infection.

Speaking at the event, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said, “This historic award from the NIH reflects the high priority of emerging and chronic viral infections in Jamaica and the Caribbean region.”

SUNY Chairman, Carl McCall stated, “We’re trying to trace infectious diseases—how they start, how they get transmitted and how we cure them. This programme will enable medical researchers to discover new ways to trace and ameliorate the health outcomes of Caribbean populations.”

Noting that only approximately 10 to 15 percent of applicants successfully get funding from the NIH—the primary US government agency responsible for biomedical and public health research—SUNY Distinguished Professor, Gene Morse, who is the Programme Leader, said the first aim is to create a core of young investigators. “We don’t want to train people who will only remain in the building and do research. We want people to come up with new ideas, bring grants here, bring funding so that capacity building occurs,” he explained.

Noting that drug development is also part of the programme, Professor Morse said that with some Jamaicans already studying how to extract natural products, there is potential for these to be patented and used to build a pharmaceutical industry.

Professor of Parasite Epidemiology at The UWI, John Lindo, co-chaired the SUNY-UWI Health Research Task Force that was charged with prioritization and formation of joint health research teams to pursue competitive funding and coordinate biomedical research in Jamaica.

The highest priority area included establishing the Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research, a collaboration among SUNY, The UWI and Jamaica’s Ministry of Health. This resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2016, and also birthed the team of faculty that pursued the Fogarty International Center Award.

Dr Timothy Endy, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the SUNY Upstate Medical University and the Center for Global Health is the Co-Principal Investigator on the Global Infectious Diseases Research Programme. Dr Laura Kramer at the NYS Department of Health—Wadsworth Laboratories and University at Albany will lead the Virology Laboratory Training Core. Dr Alan Landay from Rush University will lead the Immunology Laboratory Training Core. Dr Qing Ma from the University of Buffalo will lead the Pharmacology Laboratory Training Core. Dr Jack DeHovitz, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor from the Downstate Medical Center will serve as Chair of the Training Advisory Committee.


UWI Suny pr-12-3-2018.jpg

The four young scientists in the infectious diseases research programme (from second left) Dr Inshan Ali, clinical microbiology resident; Chadwick Mears, master’s student in medical biology; Tiffany Butterfield, PhD student in co-morbidities in HIV infection; and Dr Michelle Brown, who specialises in epidemiology of viral hepatitis and treatment in Jamaica, share a moment with SUNY’s Distinguished Professor Gene Morse (left), and The UWI’s Professor John Lindo (right).

About the Center

The SUNY-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development is the product of collaboration between two major educational institutions which are deeply committed to the development and growth of their respective constituents and to the well-being of humanity. In so doing they have expanded on the previous areas of collaboration in Education and Teacher Training, Special Education, Open and Distance Education, Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Climate Change, and Health including Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases to establish this unit.Website:

About The UWI

For the past 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region. In 2018, The UWI celebrates its evolution from 1948 as a university college in Jamaica with 33 medical students to an internationally respected regional university with near 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. Its seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. The UWI has been a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of our people. As the regional institution commemorates its 70th anniversary milestone, it will celebrate its students, faculty, administrators, alumni, governments, and partners in the public and private sector. The anniversary commemoration will focus on reflection as well as projection for the future with an emphasis on social justice and the economic transformation of the region.

Website: (Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)


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