Campus News

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

Charles Zukoski, Fenton Ferguson, Eunice Lewin, Charles L. Anderson Sr., Beverly Joy, John Lindo and Byron Brown.

Attending the BJIE meeting were, from left, Charles F. Zukoski, Fenton Ferguson, Eunice Lewin, Charles L. Anderson Sr., Beverly Joy, John Lindo and Byron Brown. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi


Published July 16, 2015

Dignitaries from Jamaica and Western New York convened in Buffalo yesterday for the first annual meeting of the Buffalo Jamaica Innovation Enterprise (BJIE), where the main topic of conversation was the planned establishment of a Jamaican center to study infectious diseases.

The event took place at UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CBLS).

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; UB; and SUNY — will seek to provide a regional center of excellence for Caribbean countries for the study of infectious diseases.

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

Perspectives and comments were provided by Buffalo Mayor and new SUNY Trustee Byron W. Brown; SUNY Trustee Eunice A. Lewin; Charles L. Anderson Sr., chairman of the board of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo; and Sharon Hrynkow, president, Global Virus Network.

Components of CIDR were 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, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Anderson; and Beverly Joy, an executive committee board member 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, who also serves as 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 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 Morse and Jack DeHovitz, a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor 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.