Launch of the COMSTECH-NTD NETWORK researcher training webinar series

By on

Category: Capacity building, Events, Network Events

Whilst the world’s attention has currently been diverted towards COVID-19, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) continue to place a severe burden upon global health, including in many Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states.  This June, COMSTECH and the NTD NETWORK are launching a virtual lecture programme drawing upon expertise from both our networks and aimed at early career researchers, academics, professional scientists and interested members of the general public. ***Our first joint seminar, broadcasting on 25th June 2021; “CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing of Leishmania and Drug Target Validation”, will be presented by Professor Jeremy Mottram, University of York***.  Details of all talks and links to webinar recordings are available here.

The control and elimination of NTDs require many new tools and medical technologies, along with a scale-up and integration of global mass treatment programmes.  However, the difficulties are not all scientific; some OIC countries are currently experiencing a civil war or have politically tense international relations.  As a result, researchers from these countries have reduced opportunities to travel, and become increasingly isolated from the international academic community.  This situation has worsened worldwide as the pandemic-related restrictions continue.
Feedback from attendees at our 2019 training workshops in Karachi and Kolkata highlighted the importance of opportunities to make these professional connections for our NTD-specialised early career researchers (ECRs), to share ideas as well as keep up with technological advances in laboratory techniques. Academics from these countries also bring us opportunities to access their wealth of indigenous resources and local expertise. Hence it is vital for our shared global health initiatives that we find new ways to interact and bring these colleagues into contact with the global academic community.

Participants from across Pakistan, the Middle East and North Africa, connected in person at our ECR training workshop, “Anti-leishmanials from Natural Products” (ICCBS, University of Karachi, November 2019)

COMSTECH (The Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation of the OIC) was founded in 1981 to strengthen cooperation among the OIC Member States in science and technology research. This organisation has stepped up its activities in response to the now obvious need for a cross-country collaboration on health-related research, and in 2020 appointed the NTD NETWORK Pakistan HUB lead, Professor Iqbal Choudhary, as their Coordinator-General.
Under Iqbal’s leadership, COMSTECH is now collaborating with the NTD NETWORK, to deliver a virtual lecture series sharing researcher’s knowledge and skills on how to tackle NTDs. Since both COMSTECH and the NTD NETWORK aim to promote global scientific cooperation to find new and better therapeutic solutions for NTDs, we are pleased to combine forces to contribute to this programme. These lectures draw upon expertise from both our memberships and provide opportunities for ECRs to enhance their knowledge, skills and connections, all of which help to grow our shared global capacity to tackle these rapidly growing NTDs.
COMSTECH’s established platform of trust and cooperation across the OIC offers an ideal route to work together towards much-needed solutions for NTDs. It is our hope that this seminar programme is only the beginning of a long-term association between members of COMSTECH and the NTD NETWORK, in which we can work together to find and refine the global health solutions we so urgently need.