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The UWI Mona Joins Global Virus Network to Combat Viral diseases

The UWI Mona Joins Global Virus Network to Combat Viral diseases

(L-R) John Lindo, Professor of Parasite Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI Mona; Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Mona Campus, Professor Dale Webber; Professor Robert Gallo, Director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Dr Tomlin Paul, Dean of the Faculty Medical Sciences, UWI Mona. The men were conversing after Prof. Gallo’s lecture at the launch of an Affiliate Centre of Excellence in the Global Virus Network at The UWI, Mona Campus. The event was hosted on February 19, 2019 at the Kenneth Standard Lecture Theatre in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.

Jamaica to benefit from expertise of leading virologists
spanning more than 20 countries

Jamaica through The University of the West Indies Mona is now home to a Centre of Excellence in the Global Virus Network (GVN), a coalition of leading virologists spanning more than 29 countries across 6 continents. All the Centres work to advance knowledge of how viruses operate and to develop drugs and vaccines to prevent illness and death. 

Professor Robert Gallo, MD, GVN Co-Founder and Scientific Director, officially announced the addition of The University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI) as the home of newest Centre of Excellence at the launch hosted at the Kenneth Standard Lecture Theatre in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, The UWI Mona on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.

In addition to now having 46 Centres of Excellence, the GVN has 7 affiliates and currently has 51 viruses under study across 26 fields – from arbovirology to vaccinology.  Within these Centres of Excellence the world’s top virologists research the viruses that pose the greatest threat to public health and to humankind. 

Consequently, this unique level of collaboration gives the GVN the ability to work on all classes of viruses—making this network the only one in the world to encompass such a vast range of viral threats. A number of these viruses are known throughout the world— Chikungunya, HIV, hepatitis B, Ebola, Zika, dengue, influenza, HTLV-1, etc. Because no single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas,  the GVN brings the best medical virologists together to leverage individual strengths and to focus global teams of scientists on key scientific problems.

“The strength of the Centres lies in the power of our network. This new addition is particularly important as we strengthen GVN’s international reach,” said Prof. Gallo, who is also Director of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a GVN Centre of Excellence. 

“I have a long history of working with The UWI and look forward to collaborating again through GVN initiatives. We also look forward to working with colleagues in Jamaica through The UWI to explore new research projects, such as those involving endemic viruses in the region including HIV and HTLV, and to examine and implement best practices as we work together to enhance the global safety net against viral disease” Dr Gallo said. 

Director of the GVN Centre of Excellence at The UWI Mona, Dr Joshua Anzinger said “having a GVN Centre of excellence in Jamaica means we are at the table with experts from all over the globe who are working to understanding viruses throughout in different regions and also to be able to respond to and study them."

This, he said, really positions The UWI and by extension, Jamaica even the Caribbean very well in terms of being able to study these viruses. According to Dr Anzinger, although we do have some level of infrastructure and we can study them to some degree, we perhaps may not have some degree of expertise for a particular virus; there may be some kind of equipment that we don’t have but collaborators abroad may have those. Being in this Network gives us some degree of access. 

The UWI Mona was inducted as a GVN Affiliate through collaborations with three GVN Centres of Excellence including: the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine; University at Buffalo (UB), State University of New York; and, Colorado State University (CSU). 

Commenting on the importance of have this Centre of Excellence, John Lindo, Professor of Parasite Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medical Sciences said “UWI Mona has Jamaica’s only virus laboratory with the capability of handling live viruses for medical diagnosis and scientific research,” 

“It also has a cadre of highly trained virologists and is the site of the National Influenza Centre. Using this unique capability in the country, The UWI will collaborate with GVN, leveraging their expertise, to better respond to outbreak of viruses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika in Jamaica and better prepare for additional global threats including Influenza and Ebola,” he added.

 

About the Global Virus Network (GVN)

The Global Virus Network (GVN) is essential and critical in the preparedness, defense and first research response to emerging, exiting and unidentified viruses that pose a clear and present threat to public health, working in close coordination with established national and international institutions. It is a coalition comprised of eminent human and animal virologists from 45 Centres of Excellence and 7 Affiliates in 29 countries worldwide, working collaboratively to train the next generation, advance knowledge about how to identify and diagnose pandemic viruses, mitigate and control how such viruses spread and make us sick, as well as develop drugs, vaccines and treatments to combat them. No single institution in the world has expertise in all viral areas other than the GVN, which brings together the finest medical virologists to leverage their individual expertise and coalesce global teams of specialists on the scientific challenges, issues and problems posed by pandemic viruses. The GVN is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, please visit www.gvn.org. Follow us on Twitter @GlobalVirusNews

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 and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Asia, and Africa such as the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018, and was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit www.uwi.edu.

(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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