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      The British Virgin Islands       OnePaper Community Edition       October 15th, 2019      
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St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation celebrates 20th Anniversary

     A major announcement is expected this weekend that the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation will get funding from the United States Public Health Service to allow the world-class primate facility here to embark on a series of experiments to determine whether human neural stem cells can cure Parkinson's disease in monkeys.
     The announcement will be the highlight of 20th anniversary celebrations by the St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation. Several dignitaries including the Governor General, the Prime Minister, a former United States Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis are expected to participate in the celebrations this weekend.
     The primate research studies institution is holding an Open House on Saturday 27th July from 10 AM to 2 PM to allow visitors and guests to tour the facilities and to hear presentations of the 20 years of
     world-class research carried out at the primate facility at Lower Bourryeau.
     Special ceremonies will honor the many years of contributions by the local scientists and staff and will be attended by St. Kitts and Nevis Governor General, His Excellency Dr. Sir Cuthbert Sebastian; Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Denzil L. Douglas; former United States Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis, Her Excellency, Mrs. Jeanette Hyde; President of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Dr. Patrick Aebischer; President of the Foundation, Dr. Eugene Redmond and former U.S. Students and distinguished visitors.
     Dr. Redmond and his collaborators are also celebrating 25 years of continuous grant funding for research in St. Kitts, which began on January 1, 1977, prior to the establishment of the present facilities at Lower Bourryeau.
     'During this time, many scientific discoveries and treatment breakthroughs have taken place, including the development of 'model' disorders in monkeys which can be used to study treatments for diseases, including anxiety, schizophrenic cognitive impairment, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease), ataxia telangiectasia, and nearsightedness.
     Foundation scientists carried out the first ever transplantation of brain cells for Parkinson's disease in monkeys, the first implantation of human neural stem cells, the first implantation of several vectors for gene therapy in primate brain, the development of an imaging procedure that can diagnose Parkinson's disease, and numerous other discoveries which have been recognized around the world, resulting in over 250 scientific publications between 1978 and the present time,' said Dr. Redmond in a news release.
     Dr. Redmond will announce funding of a new grant to the Foundation by the United States Public Health Service to embark on a series of experiments to determine whether human neural stem cells can cure Parkinson's diease in monkeys.
     Human Parkinson's results from unknown processes which kill dopamine cells, causing muscle rigidity, lack of coordination, difficulty moving and tremors. Human neural stem cells, which are primordial and uncommitted, can be propagated in large numbers and then safely differentiated into the necessary dopamine-producing neurons after they are injected into the brain. "The human neural stem cells migrate to populate developing or degenerating brain regions, perhaps allowing a functionally correct and effective reconstruction,' Dr. Redmond said.
     The project will be carried out in conjunction with scientists from Harvard Medical School, the University of Colorado and Yale University School of Medicine. In addition to this new grant, the Foundation has 9 other active research grant projects, participating scientists from 10 U.S. Medical Schools, and active scientists from many other countries, including Switzerland, the European Union, and China.
     Another highlight will be the presentation of special recognition to nine employees of the Foundation who have participated in the work of the Foundation for 10 to 20 years, and our two youngest
     researchers, summer interns Steve Whittiker and Zelia Archibald.
     Also receiving special recognition will be 10 former local Research Assistants and local high school students who have gone on to college and graduate studies, assisted by the Foundation.
     Dr. Redmond has expressed regrets that his adopted son Andy J. Redmond (formerly Andy Smith of Ottley's Village, St. Kitts) was unable to attend due to his duties as a resident in Neurosurgery at the Yale Medical School. Andy graduated from the Yale Medical
     School on May 29th.
     In addition to providing educational opportunities for local students to pursue careers in science, Dr. Redmond noted many other contributions to St. Kitts. 'The Lower Bourryeau Estate yard has been beautifully restored and developed into what is recognized as one of the leading primate facilities in the World. The scientific operation generates more employment in its region than the sugar industry did at its peak, and expanding research activities help to turn the large population of monkeys into a major economic and scientific asset for the world. Finally, frequent visits by scientists and students and numerous favorable mentions of the research carried out in St. Kitts in the world press also help to make our island known to potential tourists and visitors and provide economic benefits,' said Dr. Redmond.
     Dr. John Sladek, long-time collaborating scientist and Vice Chancellor of the University of Colorado in a congratulatory message to Dr. Redmond on the occasion said: 'It is my belief that St. Kitts Biomedical Research Foundation (SKBRF) ranks among the finest primate research facilities in the world today and has distinguished itself as a pioneering leader in translational medicine.
     Your programs on therapeutic strategies for Parkinson's disease have demonstrated clear feasibility for cellular replacement in the brain and the interventions developed at SKBRF have proven to be effective in humans. Likewise, your pioneering efforts in gene therapy and the use of neural stem cells is likely to lead to major advancements in the field of neural repair for degenerative diseases and trauma.'

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