University at Buffalo, University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and Jamaica Ministry of Health sign tripartite Memorandum of Understanding for Health Research

In January, the University at Buffalo, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus and Jamaica Ministry of Health signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding to develop collaborative programs in Health Research. The Memorandum of Understanding forms the basis for health research-related program development, grant applications, workshops and educational training programs. This MOU resulted from the discussions that occurred at the University at Buffalo in July 2015, with plenary presentations provided by Professor John Lindo, Deputy Dean (Research) Faculty of Medical of Health Sciences, of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson as well as the SUNY-UWI leadership meeting that held at the SUNY Global Center in September 2015.

Initial areas of health research will include:

1. The Establishment of a Center for Infectious Diseases Research: The Jamaica Ministry of Health has stated that an Infectious Diseases Research Center is a high priority for the SUNY-UWI collaboration that will enable Jamaica to become a regional hub. The research that will focus on microbiologic, immunologic and pharmacologic aspects related to detection, epidemiology, diagnostics, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases that will build sustained partnerships with collaborative programs such as the Global Virus Network, WHO, Gates Foundation, USAID and the Global Fund.

2. The Establishment of Clinical Translational Research Center: The conduct of biomedical clinical research requires that an organized, monitored, and quality assured program be established to interface faculty, students, patients, funding agencies and the pharmaceutical research industry. The Ministry of Health is a partner through their strategic plan for health information technology and digital records system, in collaboration with UWI data management systems will assure that GLP, GCLP and ISO accreditation standards are met and sustained.

3. The Development of an Antimicrobial Resistance and Stewardship Program: Antibiotic resistance is an international public health challenge that requires immediate attention. A complex dynamic exists between the procurement, clinical use, monitoring, development of resistance and patient outcomes. Key steps in the formation of the antimicrobial resistance and stewardship program include: immediate translational research on pharmacologic factors that contribute toward poor outcomes in complex patients, role of biosurfaces, development of an antimicrobial resistance laboratory at UWI, and development of a health information technology plan that integrates antibiotic usage with laboratory reporting of antimicrobial resistance with data analytics and outcomes reporting. Such an integrated approach is critically needed to implement the Antimicrobial Stewardship and Resistance Programs in Jamaica’s Center of Excellence Hospitals.

4. The Development of a Diabetes, Digestive and Liver Disease Program: A structured UWI Liver and Metabolic Disease Program that includes screening, diagnostic, treatment and prevention related to cardiovascular, diabetes, renal, infectious, social and nutritional causes of digestive and liver disease. The program will include medical, surgical, nutritional and treatment components and provide a national model for regional implementation. Key steps in the formation of the viral hepatitis focus will be establishing a stakeholder group to guide development in the area of viral hepatitis as well as a conference on Liver Diseases to be held in early 2016.

5. The Development of a Cannabinoid Sciences and Clinical Applications Research Program: UWI has assumed a regional and global leadership role in conducting clinical research in support of approved medical indications for cannabinoid treatment as well as developing the “best practice” for quality manufacturing and patient safety monitoring that will establish national guidelines for optimal cannabinoid use. Clinical expertise from endocrinology, primary care, pharmacologic sciences, nanotechnology, behavioral sciences and patient safety will collaborate on this initiative.

6. Collaboration in Cancer Research in Natural Products and Nanomedicine: UWI will establish a multidisciplinary program to identify indigenous compounds with anticancer properties and develop nanomedicine approaches to maximize therapeutic benefit and minimize drug toxicity through innovative formulation and tissue targeted nanocarrier systems. The program will bring together biochemistry, analytical chemistry, proteomics, bioengineering, nanotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences to develop patent and commercialize cancer diagnostics and therapeutics.