New Research Venture between Liverpool and Saudi Arabia Aims to Advance Global Response to Infectious Diseases
London, 5 April 2011 - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (KSA MoH), the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and the Innovative Vector Control Consortium (IVCC) have launched a new venture to significantly increase the global ability to control major infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue.
With US$5.5 million as seed funding from the KSA MoH, the three organizations have established a joint research centre with the mission of improving health through cutting edge research that will result in the development and delivery of innovative ways to control, monitor and evaluate insect borne diseases that are a major threat in the gulf region and around the world. As part of a larger effort to build national and regional capacity in science and technology, this centre will be based in Jazan Saudi Arabia.
“We are very excited about this new venture with two world class leaders in research and development in infectious diseases,” said Saudi Minister for Health, HE Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Rabeeah “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to advancing our country’s scientific capabilities in order to contribute to improve health nationally, regionally and globally.”
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine is the world’s oldest tropical medicine research Institute and a world leader in translational research in the health and life sciences. The IVCC was established in 2005, with an initial large-scale award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation aiming to stimulate translational research between academia and industry to develop new products for insect borne disease control.
According to LSTM Director and CEO of IVCC, Professor Janet Hemingway, the Joint Centre will rapidly establish an International standard research portfolio by utilizing the strengths in Liverpool and from within the IVCC consortium to seed the joint centre and making provision for capacity development at PhD, Masters and short course level to expand the cadre of qualified staff that the centre can draw on.
“We applaud the commitment and vision of the Saudi Ministry of Health,” said Professor Hemingway. “This centre will not only be a research institute of the highest international standard, it will push forward the frontiers of science in order to make an important contribution to global health. We look forward to helping to nurture talents from the region and learn from their experience and knowledge.”
The first phase of the joint venture will start immediately with the recruitment and training of professional staff and development of a cutting-edge laboratory facility in Jazan. The first major joint project will be to develop an Arabic version of the Malaria Decision Support System for the Arab speaking world.
The majority of the Centre’s activity will focus on conducting high quality translational research in vector borne disease control to generate new control tools, diagnostics and IT systems relevant to the national and regional programmes. With a special focus on malaria and dengue, operational research that optimises prevention and treatment methods will also be a priority. The Saudi Ministry of Health, supported by LSTM, will lead the effort in raising the additional US$21.5 million needed for infrastructure, education programs and research activities. Though the agreement is for 4 years, the partners view this initial collaboration as the beginning of a long-term mutually beneficial collaboration and anticipate its continuation post 2015.
“Our vision is to develop the Joint Research Centre as a regional centre of excellence where we have a pool of world-class scientists. Science, technology and education have always been considered as key for the growth and prosperity of our Kingdom,” declared Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Rabeeah “Our hope is that this partnership will also produce a step change in our ability to fight and eliminate deadly diseases in our region and around the world.”
About KSA MoH
The mission of the Ministry of Health is to provide comprehensive and integrative therapeutic, rehabilitative, and supportive health care for all living in the Kingdom. The MOH also sees a building knowledge capacity in health, science and technology as a cornerstone of its leadership role in the region. It has supported numerous research initiatives in the country that aims to have positive effects beyond its borders.
Founded in 1898, LSTM became the first institution in the world dedicated to research and teaching in tropical medicine. Combating diseases such as TB, HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue and lymphatic filariasis, LSTM’s work is supported by a research portfolio of £192 million, a staff of 360 and a teaching programme attracting over 500 students from over 50 countries.
The IVCC is a not for profit Product Development Partnership (PDP) with a mission to accelerate development and delivery of new products and tools that increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the control of insects which transmit disease. Vector control has been a cornerstone of every effective campaign to control vector borne diseases such as malaria and dengue. Our work revolves around building a strong pipeline of new and improved products and information systems as tools for the global health community.
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