New Director Appointed for NGDI-UBC
Dr. Richard Lester will take over as Director of UBC’s Neglected Global Diseases Initiative (NGDI) on May 15, 2014. Lester is a leader in the field of mHealth in clinical HIV, who in 2012 published the world first SMS texting study in Kenya that showed improved adherence to HIV medications.
Lester is currently Head of the Division of STI/HIV Control as well as Executive Director and Chief Medical and Scientific Advisor of the non-profit WelTel organization. His work in mHealth has led to the first scale-up grant from the Grand Challenges Canada program, the Government of Canada’s largest global health funding program.
“My work on the ground in clinics in Kenya gives me a good perspective of delivery issues,” says Lester. “The NGDI works with researchers at each end of the spectrum, from bench science to the field and I look forward to leading this excellent group forward in developing successful interventions.”
“The board is very grateful for the fantastic leadership of Dr. Kishor Wasan during the first four years of the initiative, we wish him well in his new role in Saskatchewan,” said Dr. Robert EW Hancock, Co-Founder of NGDI and member of the Advisory Board and Director, Centre for Microbial Diseases and Immunity Research. “We are also looking forward to Dr. Lester’s contributions over the next few years.”
The NGDI provides a focus for the UBC research community to harness new inventions and make sure they are delivered to low-resource countries when applicable. Most of the projects licenced using the Universal Access Principles at the University-Industry Liaison Office were created by NGDI members.
“The NGDI helps to increase the impact of our research through the use of important knowledge mobilization tools, thus helping to increase the impact on the people who need it most.” says Dr. John Hepburn, Vice President Research and International.
Dr. Richard Lester: Dr. Lester joined the BCCDC in 2009 as the Lead Physician – Division of STI/HIV Control, BC Centre for Disease Control. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases with the Department of Medicine at UBC where he obtained his Infectious Diseases Clinical Fellowship. He earned his medical degree at the University of Alberta, studied internal medicine at the University of Toronto, and did an HIV immunology fellowship with the University of Manitoba / University of Nairobi collaborative projects (WHO Collaborative Centre for HIV/STD Research and Training). Dr. Lester’s clinical research interests include using mobile information technology (cell phones) to improve patient support and health services (mHealth) in resource-limited settings. Dr. Lester’s basic research interests include innate immune mechanisms of susceptibility to infectious diseases, the role of innate immunity in vaccine design, and the control of inflammation and its role in HIV pathogenesis. Dr. Lester and colleagues were responsible for some of the first findings for role of innate immunity (Toll-like receptors) in resistance to HIV infection and to HIV pathogenesis in the Pumwani sex-worker cohort in Kenya. Dr. Lester has contributed significantly to the scientific body of knowledge surrounding mechanisms of susceptibility surrounding infectious disease, the role of innate immunity in vaccine design and the control of inflammation and its role in HIV pathogenesis.
Neglected Global Diseases Initiative at UBC: The Neglected Global Diseases Initiative at UBC (NGDI‐UBC) brings together the technical expertise and perspectives of a variety of disciplines at UBC – including bench science, pharmaceutical and health research, business, social policy, and law – to develop interventions for neglected global diseases and ensure their delivery to those in need. For more information, visit www.ngdi.ubc.ca.
For additional information, please contact:
Neglected Global Diseases Initiative
Dr. Kishor Wasan
Professor and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Director and Co-Founder, NGDI-UBC