Biomedical research carried out in St. Kitts is important for humanity

Dr Harris meeting with the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation team: From left – Dr Tracey Challenger, Donald Cable, Dr Timothy Harris, Dr Milton Whittaker, Alexis Nisbett and Dr Matthew Lawrence.

St. Kitts (May 6, 2010) — Senior Minister with responsibility for Agriculture and parliamentary representative for St. Christopher Seven, Dr Timothy Harris, has said that research work being carried out by the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation at Bourryeau Estate in his constituency is important not just for St. Kitts and Nevis but for humanity.

Dr Harris who met with officials from the foundation in the ministry’s conference room at Government Headquarters on Church Street on Friday April 30, told them the kind of research and work in which the foundation is engaged are important in medical and other contributions saying that humanity is usually the end beneficiary.

The foundation’s team, which updated the Senior Minister on the latest developments, was led by General Manager Alexis Nisbett and also included Director of Research Dr Milton Whittaker and Study Director Dr Matthew Lawrence. On the government side were Dr Tracey Challenger, Chief Veterinary Officer and Donald Cable, Consultant in the Ministry of Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, Consumer Affairs Agriculture, Marine Resources, and Constituency Empowerment.

The meeting with Senior Minister Harris comes on the heels of an announcement on April 21 that the St. Kitts based world-class primate research facility would in early May start preclinical testing of a unique new Dengue fever vaccine. Trials would be conducted in non-human primates at the facility.

This is not the first time the facility is conducting important trials. In 2002, when the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation celebrated its 20th anniversary, it was announced that the foundation was to receive funding from the United States Public Health Service to allow it to embark on a series of experiments to determine whether human neural stem cells can cure Parkinson’s disease in monkeys.

Dr Harris pointed out that the head of the facility “on a regular basis has sought to update me on what is happening as things change and evolve and so I am seeing this (meeting) as a continuation of that particular approach. Indeed there are times when they also choose to bring them to the attention of the Prime Minister when there are major and interesting things to be delivered.”

While he welcomed the continuation of the dialogue, he sought to find out from the research foundation if in their work they could consider research activities which would lead to rapid or larger uses of the monkeys as to bring the country closer towards the goal of reduction of the monkey population.

Dr Harris pointed out that in so doing they could bring their expertise to assist the country with a major challenge to its programme of food security and hoped that there is going to be a follow-up meeting specifically to discuss that issue and what the facility would be able to do to assist the country in terms of targeting on research which would allow the use of monkeys and help to bring some dramatic reduction in the monkey population without compromising the country’s unique biodiversity.

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