The Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) has been working with local researchers in Mexico for a number of years – a collaboration that was initially spurred by NDM’s Professor Arturo Reyes-Sandoval’s interest in malaria and dengue, but which now includes several other diseases endemic in Mexico, including chikungunya, Chagas and most recently Zika diseases.
This collaboration has also been spurred by the need for developing local research capacity in low and middle income countries, as recognized by the World Health Organization’s 2013 report, which explicitly calls for more locally-led research. The Global Health Network argues that “there are still far too few locally-led research studies that are conceived, planned, led and operated by researchers from and in LMICs (low and middle-income countries). There are compounding reasons for this but the lack of access to support, training, tools and resources are important factors in this gap.’
Our aim is therefore to foster the development of Mexican scientific leadership and research capabilities, and to help bridge the gap between research outputs produced in Latin America versus Europe.
To achieve this aim, we are now hosting a new project to develop scientific infrastructure and research capacity for vaccine development and genomic research across Mexico. The project aims to encourage the exchange of scientists and students between Mexico and Oxford, promoting the sharing of ideas to create, research and trial innovative vaccines. The project will also foster the development of Mexican scientific leadership and research capacity.
The flagship project will address Zika, chikungunya and dengue virus infections in the first instance, by establishing several laboratories in Mexico specialising in emerging and neglected infectious diseases, virology, immunology, epidemiology, haemostasis, inflammation, infection and genomics. Building such local research capacity is part of a broader developmental change process, and one which we hope will lead to more research capacity, high-tech productivity and economic opportunities for people living in Mexico.