University of Western Ontario: Western partners with Ugandan research centre to help address global health challenges

A new strategic partnership between Western and the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) in Kampala, Uganda, establishes a long-term commitment for research collaboration to address the world’s most challenging global health issues.

The interdisciplinary education, training and research collaboration between JCRC and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry was formally announced on Wednesday, July 6, in the Ugandan capital. The partnership also includes Makerere University College of Health Sciences and Mbarara University of Sciences and Technology.

“Transformation is a term we use often but JCRC has helped transform the care of communicable diseases for an entire country and continent,” said Dr. John Yoo, dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “I cannot think of a better partner for Western in helping educate the next generation – our student and theirs – to be citizens of a global community.”

Yoo led a Western delegation, which included associate vice-president of equity, diversity and inclusion Opiyo Oloya, and Canada Research Chair in HIV Pathogenesis and Viral Control Eric Arts, to Kampala for the formal signing of the agreement and the official launch of the partnership.

The delegation also met with Uganda First Lady Janet Museveni, who serves as Minister of Education and Sports, to discuss interdisciplinary education, training and research at national and international levels, which can be further enhanced through this newly established collaboration. There is hope from leaders at Western and JCRC the partnership will expand to cover other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, beyond Ugandan borders.

Collaboration formalized
A renowned expert in HIV/AIDS research, Arts has worked with JCRC since 1998 when he established the CFAR Uganda molecular virology labs at the centre. Currently directed by Immaculate Nankya, the lab’s primary mission is to understand HIV pathogenesis and to provide advanced clinical virology analysis. As a WHO regional lab, the CFAR Uganda labs have performed more than 5,000 HIV-1 drug resistance tests for patients in East Africa over the past 24 years.

Arts said this week’s announcement formalizes a rapidly expanding collaboration with JCRC, which has already trained and educated nearly 100 Western students over the past five years as part of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Global Health Systems program.

“This collaboration will expand to include research, teaching and training for faculty, undergraduate, graduate, medical and dental students and residents from both Uganda and Western to provide a more global perspective to our curriculum and provide experiential learning,” said Arts.

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