Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum from Professor Olugbemiro Sodeinde, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria


  I am Head of the Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Nigeria. UCH is the oldest established Teaching Hospital in West Africa. In addition to providing health care as the central regional hospital, our remit includes training a cadre of doctors with laboratory as well as clinical skills for high quality research. Our undergraduate students and postgraduate trainees come from other anglophone West African countries as well as Nigeria. Twice a year, we host the professional examinations of the West African College of Physicians.

  I am sure it would not surprise you that my interest in the matter of your inquiry stems from the excellent collaboration we have in malaria research with the Division of Parasitology at Mill Hill. This three-way collaboration between us, NIMR and the Department of Zoology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, is supported by the WHO and the Wellcome Trust.

  This collaboration has primarily been focused on malaria vaccines. It led to the first demonstration in humans, that the vaccine candidate antigen, MSP 1, does induce the production of antibodies that are known to be protective. The integration of our studies in the field and in the laboratory has enabled us to make significant contributions to the development of a vaccine against malaria. As people who live and work at the coal face of malaria with responsibilities for clinical, laboratory, and other aspects of the disease, our work with the NIMR is of vital importance to us.

  Beyond the work on malaria vaccines our collaborations with Mill Hill are growing.

  For example, we have a joint application at the Gates Foundation "Grand Challenges in Global Health" entitled "Design and implementation of an automated malaria diagnosis toolkit". If the proposed approach is successful it will have a profound impact in this important area, both in the clinic and for research in the field. Naturally, we are also interested in the research programmes at NJMR relating to Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Related to this, we are starting new postgraduate research degree programmes focusing on Aids, Tuberculosis & Malaria (ATM). As you are probably aware, these three diseases have been recognised globally as requiring special targeted attention.

  As to the importance of promoting cross-fertilisation of ideas between clinicians and basic scientists, I am sure the staff at Mill Hill have articulated very well how this is currently being ensured. However, kindly permit me to point out that the necessary integration of clinical, and laboratory approaches to a given problem depends more on the attitudes and habits of those concerned than their being on the same campus. Thus, Dr Tony Holder has already visited our hospital and laboratories in Nigeria twice as part of our collaboration which has taken a number of us, including myself, to work in the Mill Hill laboratories.

  In a few words, please do not allow disruption of the work at NIMR, Mill Hill. Its good works extend far beyond the shores of the UK.

22 November 2004

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