Partners from Jamaica, Buffalo plan new center for infectious disease research


BUFFALO, N.Y. – Dignitaries from Jamaica and Western New York will convene in Buffalo for the first annual meeting of the Buffalo Jamaica Innovation Enterprise (BJIE), where one main topic of discussion will be the planned establishment of a Jamaican center to study infectious diseases.

The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15, at the University at Buffalo’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS) at 701 Ellicott St., Buffalo. Remarks by leaders from Buffalo and Jamaica will begin at 9 a.m.

The BJIE was formed to create the foundation for a partnership that will lead to a number of collaborative projects, including the Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR).

This Jamaica-based institution — a collaboration between the Jamaica Ministry of Health; the University of the West Indies at Mona in Kingston, Jamaica; the University at Buffalo; and the SUNY — will seek to provide a regional center of excellence for Caribbean countries for the study of infectious diseases.

The July 15 meeting will include welcoming remarks from Charles F. Zukoski, UB provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Perspectives and comments will be provided by:

  • Byron W. Brown II, mayor of Buffalo, trustee of the State University of New York;
  • Eunice A. Lewin, trustee of the State University of New York;
  • Charles L. Anderson Sr., chairman of the board of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo; and
  • Sharon Hrynkow, president of the Global Virus Network.

Components of CIDR will be presented by:

  • Fenton R. Ferguson, Jamaica Minister of Health; and
  • John F. Lindo, professor and associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Medical Sciences and department chair for microbiology at the University of the West Indies.

BJIE and the July 15 meeting are the result of a planning process that began in 2012 and included weekly meetings of a core planning committee that included Gene D. Morse in UB’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Anderson; and Beverly Joy, an executive committee member of the Board of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo.

“This represents a wonderful opportunity to bring together the extensive international research and education training experience at UB with a regional Caribbean leader that will lead to new translational and implementation initiatives built on an integrated sciences approach,” said Morse, a SUNY Distinguished Professor and associate director of the CBLS.

The BJIE has developed around central themes that focus on education, research, mentoring, community programs and economic development. Emerging collaborations include efforts to develop joint STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education projects and infectious diseases research training, as well as to develop patient safety monitoring systems in Jamaica using biometrics, bioinformatics and electronic health records.

CIDR, a national program that will be located in Kingston, Jamaica, will partner with UB and the SUNY Global Health Institute, a system-wide initiative co-directed by SUNY Distinguished Professors Morse and Jack DeHovitz at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

The program, which has completed the planning phase, is also part of the vision of an emerging collaboration between SUNY and the UWI central administration that is planned to lead to multiple campus-to-campus collaborations and new educational opportunities for students and faculty, as well as economic development through new business relationships.