The NGDI-UBC is a pan-university initiative that brings together the technical expertise and perspectives of a variety of disciplines – including bench science, pharmaceutical and health research, business, social policy and law – to develop interventions for neglected global diseases (also known as poverty-related diseases) and ensure their delivery to those in need.
The World Health Organization recognizes 17 neglected tropical diseases and 3 other neglected conditions. Some of them may be familiar – leprosy, African sleeping sickness, and guinea worm – however, the majority of North Americans do not know that many other diseases that presently have cures or treatments still take the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries. Children are particularly vulnerable. Overall, neglected diseases cause great suffering and are a leading cause of chronic disability, diminished quality of life, and premature death.
It has become increasingly clear that the availability of medical interventions alone is not sufficient to create access for those in need. This initiative is the result of researchers themselves recognizing the need to cross disciplinary boundaries and work together for and with the countries affected by these diseases. NGDI-UBC researchers have tremendous potential to make an impact on many areas of neglected diseases including but not limited to, new vaccines, therapeutics for visceral leishmaniasis, understanding unlicensed or licensed street drug vendors, using mobile technology for patient support, creating sustainable vector control systems, and scaling up zinc supplements.
The University of British Columbia has provided leadership in the development of an intellectual property initiative that harnesses the economic potential of university innovations (such as medical discoveries) to ensure their development, while at the same time enhancing their social benefit by ensuring reasonable, fair, and affordable access for developing countries.
The education and training of future leaders is one of the top priorities for the NGDI as interest, involvement and support from the student body is high. Our program provides education through a quarterly Distinguished Lectureship Seminar Series, symposiums, website materials and newsletters.
Future plans in education involve developing a certificate in Neglect Global Diseases for graduate students from both UBC and countries where these diseases are endemic. The flexible graduate training will be provided not just in the areas of specialty but will include exposure to all relevant areas of science, developing country medicine, social determinants of health, law and health policy.
Another important goal is the development of a seed fund that will provide students and faculty with proof of principle funding for small projects – something no other funders presently do. We know that from small seeds, big things grow.
Your support for the NGDI-UBC will provide sustainability for this new initiative over the crucial next stage of development.
Funding can be earmarked for the following areas:
o Symposium or Distinguished Lectureship Seminar sponsorships
o International student exchange program/Certificate in Neglected Global Diseases development
o Seed fund to provide small Proof of Principle grants
o General program support
The collective goal of the NGDI -UBC is to provide practical solutions to practical problems.
We believe we can. Won’t you join us?