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International Partnership to Train and Educate Future Nanotechnologists in Zimbabwe

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The University at Buffalo (UB) welcomed Minister of Science and Technology Development of Zimbabwe, Professor Heneri Dzinotyiweyi to Buffalo to tour its Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics (ILPB) and New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences (CoE). Both research facilities will play a role in the international academic partnership with the University of Zimbabwe and Chinhoyi University of Technology.

Receiving the award to establish a Fogarty International Center AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) in 2009, UB professor, CoE associate director, and director of Translational Pharmacy Research Gene D. Morse, PharmD and collaborators set out to use the award for its intended purpose, providing education and training for HIV-related research in low- and middle-income countries.

UB Robin DiFrancesco, Zimbabwe Minister, Dr. Dzinotyiweyi, and Charles Chiedza MapongaThrough the Zimbabwe International Nanotechnology Center (ZINC), the collaboration will primarily serve as a nanotechnology research program where UB will help educate and train young researchers at the University of Zimbabwe  and the Chinhoyi University of Technology to apply nanotechnology to treat and prevent prevalent diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the south-African country. Nanotechnology is molecular manufacturing on a 100 nanometer or smaller scale. Nano-particles (particles with dimensions less than 100 nanometers) have become important to the equation of new HIV/AIDS drug development because they can provide effective treatment options with shortened duration of therapy, reduced systemic side effects and limited development of drug resistance.

With 14 percent of Zimbabwe’s population living with HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as a co-infection, the need for new drugs and new formulations of available treatments is crucial.

To prepare for ZINC implementation and discuss logistics, Morse and Paras Prasad, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Electrical Engineering and Samuel P. Capen Chair of Chemistry invited Professor Dzinotyiweyi to Western New York. “Professor Dzinotyiweyi’s visits to the ILPB, as well as the center, provided an opportunity for faculty leaders, regional scientists and public officials to discuss the recently announced international collaboration of UB and ZINC,” says Morse.

A public symposium will take place in Harare, Zimbabwe on March 18th and 19th. The symposium will include representatives from government, academia and the community. Meetings in Zimbabwe and Buffalo are scheduled to help all participants continue to get acquainted.

A future hope is to develop partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, drawing private-sector investments. In addition to that goal, a positive effect on economic development is expected to take place in Western New York and in Zimbabwe.

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