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UB welcomes first fellows of $1.1 million training program to improve study of Zika, HIV, other viruses


Thu, Oct 4th 2018 04:50 pm
West Indies fellows will train with SUNY scientists in virology and drug development
The University at Buffalo has accepted the first cohort of fellows into the Global Infectious Diseases Research Training Program, a $1.1 million program formed to train 15 scientists from the Caribbean in viral infection research.
Supported by a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center, the program will produce the first of a new generation of virology researchers in Jamaica, improving the study of Zika, dengue, HIV, hepatitis and other viruses.
The program is a collaboration between the UB Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, University of the West Indies in Jamaica, State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University and Jamaica Ministry of Health.
Its launch will be celebrated at 6 p.m. today in the Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, 701 Ellicott St., Buffalo.
"This new initiative is already in high gear and is stimulating the initial phase of development and growth of Jamaica as a virology research hub in the Caribbean region," says Gene Morse, Pharm.D., lead investigator on the award, director of the Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. "The scientific collaborations will lead to a needed resource to confront emerging virus infections and foster new approaches in the field among UB, SUNY and University of the West Indies faculty, fellows and graduate students."
The four fellows in the program's first cohort include:
•Michelle Georgiana Brown, MBBS, Ph.D., who earned a bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery and doctorate of medical microbiology from the University of the West Indies.
•Inshan Ali, M.D., who earned a doctoral degree in medicine from Saint George's University in Grenada.
•Tiffany Butterfield, doctoral candidate in microbiology at the University of the West Indies.
•Chadwic D. Mears, who earned a master's degree in medical microbiology from the University of the West Indies.
Driven by the shortage of researchers available to conduct immediate studies during the recent outbreaks of the Zika and chikungunya viruses, the Jamaica Ministry of Health named the establishment of a virology research program as one of Jamaica's highest national health priorities.
Under the program, fellows will gain clinical and translational science training, as well as develop an expertise in one or more of the following areas: arbovirology - viruses transmitted by arthropods, such as mosquitoes and ticks; chronic viral infections that include HIV, hepatitis B and C, and the Zika, chikungunya and dengue viruses; or antiviral drug development.
Fellows will alternate periods of training at SUNY research labs under faculty mentors while completing research on endemic or life-threatening infectious diseases at the University of the West Indies.
Research training labs in pharmacology, virology and immunology will be established at the University at Buffalo, University at Albany and New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center, and Rush University, respectively. The program also engages faculty at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center, SUNY Global Health Institute and UB Center of Excellence in Antiviral Clinical Pharmacology in the Global Virus Network.
By increasing the number of virology researchers in Jamaica, the program aims to further advance the development of the Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research, a collaboration between SUNY, University of the West Indies and Jamaica Ministry of Health.

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