MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit transfers to London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

(Left-Right); Prof. Paul Kaye- Chair Infection and Immunity Board- MRC UK; Mr. Peter West- British High Commissioner to Uganda, Hon. Sarah Opendi- State Minister for Health (General Duties), Prof Pontiano Kaleebu (Director- MRC/UVRI & LSHTM) and Prof Peter Piot- Director LSHTM at the transfer event
The British High Commission, Mr. Peter West plants a tree to commemorate the ground breaking for a new Research Clinic in Entebbe
The State Minister for Health (General Duties) Hon. Sarah Opendi plants a tree to commemorate the ground breaking for a new Research Clinic in Entebbe

The MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit (the Unit) commemorated the transfer to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) on 11th May and unveiled its new name; the Medical Research Council/ Uganda Virus Research Institute and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (MRC/UVRI and LSHTM) Uganda Research Unit.

The event was officiated by the Minister of State for Health in charge of General Duties, Hon. Sarah Opendi who represented the Minister of Health and commended both the MRC-UK and the LSHTM for supporting research in Uganda and reiterated the government’s commitment to increasing funding towards research. “On behalf the Uganda government and on my own behalf, I would like to extend our gratitude to the MRC-UK and the LSHTM for supporting medical research in Uganda, particularly in the area of HIV/AIDS which has contributed to and informed treatment and care policies in the country”. She further commented “As the Unit expands its areas of research to address emerging health issues such as Endemic, Neglected, Emerging and Re-emerging Infections; and Non-Communicable Diseases, we pledge our support as government ensure that research work in those areas is adequately funded”.

Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, Director UVRI and MRC/UVRI and LSHTM commended the MRC-UK for the funding towards the Unit, which has enabled the Unit to conduct groundbreaking research. “The Unit has conducted various research, particularly on HIV/AIDS since 1989 and has contributed an incredible amount to the available body of knowledge, both nationally and globally. All this would not have been possible without the funding that we have received over the years from the MRC-UK”, he said. He further noted the opportunities that the transfer would avail researchers at both institutions, “We are excited to join the LSHTM and are optimistic about the numerous opportunities the partnership will provide to research teams both at the Unit and at the School. The transfer not only offers a wider platform for our researchers to train, practice and collaborate, but increases capacity and access to resources to undertake more cutting-edge medical research”. Prof Kaleebu added that he was grateful to the UK government for the agreement to fund a new research centre to aid scientific research and at the same function ground was broken to pave way for construction of the centre near the Entebbe based facility.

Speaking on behalf of the British High Commission in Uganda, Mr. Peter West, the High Commissioner reiterated the value of the work conducted by the Unit. “Through the MRC- UK, the UK tax payers have supported the Unit’s work in Uganda for the last 30 years. I am glad to note that this continued funding has been possible because the UK government acknowledges the good use and value for money exhibited by the Unit”, he noted.

Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine noted that the transfer of the Unit to LSHTM would increase opportunities for research on global health issues. “The new partnership presents major opportunities for both institutions’ staff and research output. Our School becomes more global than ever and increases its access to research facilities and skilled researchers based ‘on-the ground’, while the Unit will reap the added benefit of LSHTM’s global reputation and wide-ranging expertise. By working even more closely together, innovative and collaborative research projects can be developed, which are needed to tackle major global health issues.”

The event was attended by staff, funding and research partners, representatives from regulatory authorities, local leaders as well as policy makers and was the climax of this year’s 2-day Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting.