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March 27, 2014
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Upstate’s Center for Global Health and Translational Science signs MOU with Enfarma

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Upstate Medical University’s Center for Global Health and Translational Science (CGHATS) and the Ecuadorian State Pharmaceutical Company, Enfarma, signed a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) on March 6 that positions Upstate and Enfarma to establish clinical research and translational science projects in collaboration with Ecuadorian universities and research institutes.

As part of the understanding, Upstate will aid in the creation of a research center in Ecuador where clinical trials for vaccines and diagnostics could be conducted, especially for dengue and other neglected infectious diseases, according to Anna Stewart Ibarra, Ph.D., research scientist and Latin America research coordinator at the CGHATS.

“Our CGHATS researchers are currently conducting studies in Ecuador and this memorandum of understanding formalizes our collaborations and paves the way for future scientific and educational initiatives,” said Stewart Ibarra.

Among those studies are Stewart Ibarra’s field study involving dengue transmission dynamics and mosquito control interventions to help put a stop to the spread of dengue. Dengue is a life-threatening mosquito-borne viral disease that is one of the fastest spreading tropical diseases globally, and highly prevalent in Ecuador. It is now emerging as a threat in Florida, along the Texas border and most recently was found on Long Island. The virus cannot be spread directly from person-to-person.

There is no vaccine or drug currently available for dengue. The CGHATS is one of the leading research centers conducting investigations to developing a dengue vaccine.

“Enfarma’s goal is to make vaccines and other pharmaceuticals more accessible to Ecuadorians, particularly those that prevent diseases that are common in their country,” said Stewart Ibarra. “One of our common goals is to study the efficacy of orphan drugs, or those that are not a priority of the larger pharmaceutical companies, and to bring these drugs to market in a more timely fashion.”

Prior to the signing, CGHATS hosted a training workshop on clinical research for dengue vaccine development. Participants included delegates from Enfarma, including Dr. Esteban Ortiz, Enfarma’s scientific chair. This workshop was followed by meetings with Dr. Mercy Borbor, former vice minister of Environment and researcher from the Escuela Superior Politecnica del Littoral (ESPOL) of Ecuador, one of the top ranked public research universities in Ecuador. Upstate signed an MOU with ESPOL earlier this year and is involved in the development of a sister center for global health at the university.

CGHATS is a consortium for the global health activities at Upstate Medical University, providing opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with other resources and groups in Central New York as well as internationally. It is a multidisciplinary, applied research center, engaging faculty from the Central New York area to work in partnership to improve the delivery of health care globally. Staff are engaged in center-based and field research projects in several countries around the world, including Ecuador, Kenya and Thailand.

Caption: Gathered at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding are, from left, Jorge Ponce (Enfarma); Anna Stewart Ibarra, PhD, CGHATS; Rosemary Rochford, PhD, vice president for research, Upstate; Upstate Interim President Gregory L. Eastwood, MD; Dr. Esteban Ortiz (Enfarma); Steven Taffet, PhD, CGHATS; and Sadie Ryan, PhD, CGHATS.

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