Future collaborations in research for medical and other scientific areas of expertise were the focus of the symposium and discussions held on the 3rd of October, 2018 between the School of Medicine, NUS Research Experts and leading Research Professors from the University of Auckland and University of Otago. Professor Peter Shepherd from the University of Auckland and Professor Tony Merriman from the University of Otago paid a courtesy call to the National University of Samoa and the School of Medicine to initiate discussions on possible partnerships in research development tackling medical conditions which are common in Samoa. Professors Shepherd and Merriman are leading researchers and investigators at the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiversity. Maurice Wilkins Centre is one of New Zealand’s national research Centers and ranked as Centre for Excellence for Molecular Biotechnology. The institution has contributed immensely initiating and conducting various research projects on health conditions that are common in the Pacific Island Countries.

Professor Peter Shepherd (fifth from left) and Professor Tony Merriman (second from left) with the NUS Vice Chancellor

Professor Fui Le’apai Asofou So’o (centre) and staff of NUS and SoM.

The discussions between the two institutions identified several challenges which includes amongst others cancer, diabetes, rheumatic fever, genetic, TB drugs, microbial drug resistance, gout and metabolic diseases as the priority areas for research development. Samoa is amongst the top ten countries in the world with an alarming rate of diabetic conditions. This is a major challenge to national developments of a small island nation such as Samoa posing a threat to the future population.  The proposed collaboration envisions scientists from the School of Medicine, leading researchers of NUS and other cohort institutions e.g. SROS to initiate a caucus that will work with Maurice Wilkins Center on research projects to help address the identified areas of health concerns within Samoa. In his presentation, Professor Shepherd shared his study on “Genetics and metabolic health of Maori and Pacific people” where statistics found that it is not directly environmental factors relating a certain individual with diabetic and obesity, gene is one other contributing element. He added that several new drugs are being developed and currently in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer, diabetics, TB and rheumatic diseases. Samoa will benefit greatly from this collaboration where local researchers at the School of Medicine and other Faculties can be part of the ongoing investigations of health conditions of our own people and more importantly identifying possible solutions.  

Additional discussions noted the need for the School of Medicine staff to explore opportunities that will enhance their skills and knowledge especially continuous professional development which will go a long way in redefining and rekindling the passion and love for scientific explorations.

 

 

 

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