Seed grants strengthen infectious diseases research collaboration in Myanmar

The Kirby Institute’s infectious disease research collaboration with the University of Medicine 2 (UM2) in Yangon, Myanmar, continues to make strides in building research capacity in Myanmar. Since the formal launch of the collaboration in June 2017, the two institutions have worked closely to build the capacity of local Myanmar practitioners to address the high rates of infectious diseases including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and rabies. 

Scientia Professor David Cooper, Director of the Kirby Institute, and Dr Josh Hanson, Senior Research Associate at the Kirby, are leading the program and returned to Yangon in October 2017 to check on progress and meet with health care workers and students from UM2 as well as local government representatives. In recognition of the ongoing work, the Kirby/UM2 collaboration was recently awarded two Institute of Global Development Seed Grants.

Professor Cooper and Dr Hanson outside the UM2-Kirby collaboration office with UM2 collaborators

Professor Cooper and Dr Hanson outside the UM2-Kirby collaboration office with UM2 collaborators including Professor Aye Tun, Professor Myo Lwin Nyein, Professor Mar Mar Kyi, Professor Win Win Maw and Professor Aye Thida and Dr Ne Myo Aung.

Professor Cooper and Dr Hanson’s recent efforts have focused on expanding the existing programme to address more infections, including hepatitis C and human papillomavirus (HPV), and the first grant was awarded to bolster these efforts. The grant will allow Australian experts in these fields to conduct training of clinicians in the testing and treatment of hepatitis C and HPV, as well as building laboratory capacity by training local researchers to internationally-recognised standards. “The work we are undertaking in Myanmar is all through the prism of building research capacity”, says Dr Hanson. “We’re collaborating with young, local clinicians, so we’re helping to build the capabilities of the next generation of Myanmar clinician academics. This will be vital in the future management of these diseases in the region”.

Professor Cooper and Dr Hanson discuss the redevelopment of the UM2 Research laboratory with UM2 collaborators

Professor Cooper and Dr Hanson discuss the redevelopment of the UM2 Research laboratory with UM2 collaborators including Professor Aye Tun, Professor Myo Lwin Nyein, Professor Mar Mar Kyi, Professor Win Win Maw and Professor Aye Thida.

Further work in the region is focusing on training medical students and developing medical curricula at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. A second grant was awarded to support this project and is led by the Kirby Institute’s Ms Liza Doyle in collaboration with colleagues at UM2.

On his recent visit, Professor Cooper met with young Myanmar clinicians who will be commencing their doctoral thesis programs in 2018 and in November, four UM2 staff members visited the Kirby Institute to discuss the collaboration and future projects, and welcome them to UNSW.

The Kirby Institute will continue its work in Myanmar in 2018.

At the Department of Medical Research with local collaborators

At the Department of Medical Research with local collaborators including Professor Mar Mar Kyi (centre in pink). Professor Mark Boyd, Professor of Medicine, University of Adelaide and Visiting Professorial Fellow at Kirby Institute, is left of her.

Meeting with Director General Tin Tin Lay of the Department of Human Resources and Health

Meeting with Director General Tin Tin Lay of the Department of Human Resources and Health.

Professor Cooper and Dr Hanson during their visit to the UM2 Research laboratory with UM2 collaborators.

Professor Cooper and Dr Hanson during their visit to the UM2 Research laboratory with UM2 collaborators including Professor Mar Mar Kyi, Professor Mya Mya Lwin, Dr Ne Myo Aung, Dr Cho Cho Khine and Dr Zin Yadanar Thein.

Team discussion planning for the commencement of the doctoral theses in 2018.

Team discussion planning for the commencement of the doctoral theses in 2018. L-R: Professor Mar Mar Kyi, Professor Cooper, Associate Professor Philip Cunningham, Professor Tony Kelleher, Dr Ne Myo Aung and Dr Josh Hanson.

Professor Mar Mar Kyo and her team of young clinicians and doctoral thesis candidates

Professor Mar Mar Kyo and her team of young clinicians including Dr Ne Myo Aung and Associate Professor Swe Swe Thit; and doctoral thesis candidates Dr Thin Zar Cho Oo, Dr Nan Phyu Sin Toe Myint and Dr Cho Cho Khine.

Ward round discussion with Dr Josh Hanson and Professor Mar Mar Kyi, surrounded by young Myanmar clinicians

Ward round discussion with Professor Mar Mar Kyi and Dr Josh Hanson, surrounded by young Myanmar clinicians including doctoral candidate Dr Thin Zar Cho Oo.

Delegates from UM2 visit the Kirby Institute.

Delegates from UM2 visit the Kirby Institute in November 2017. Associate Professor Gail Matthews and Ms Liza Doyle (second and third from the left) hosts Professor Aye Thida (fourth from the left), her team and Mr Laurie Pearcey, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International), UNSW Sydney (second from the right).

Date published: 
Monday, 18 December 2017

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