Handholding young scientists in a country fraught with infection burden, climate change and health consequences

With many people in Bangladesh migrating from coastal areas to cities, the country must deal with ever increasing healthcare challenges. In an effort to deliver health care innovations, the International Centre for Diarrheal Diseases Research Bangladesh (icddr,b) is charting a career plan for its young scientists. To tell us more about this ambitious plan for handholding and nurturing young scientists, is Niyaz Ahmed, Senior Director of Laboratory Sciences and Services Division at the icddr,b and Editor-in-Chief of Gut Pathogens.

Bangladesh is a country where climate change is at play, in real time, and at an unimaginable scale and dimension. It has resulted in higher levels of human migration from its coastal areas, and consequently an increased burden on the municipal infrastructure of cities that are fighting the menace of congestion, traffic jams, poor drainage systems and unhygienic living conditions for millions of people.

Bangladesh is a country where climate change is at play, in real time

This could well result in accelerated transmission dynamics of infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid, tuberculosis and parasitic infestations. The irony is compounded when life-style associated diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular ailments occur alongside diseases of poverty such as diarrhea, malnutrition and childhood pneumonia.

I have recently taken over a challenging leadership position as Senior Director of Laboratory Sciences and Services Division at the International Centre for Diarrheal Diseases Research Bangladesh (icddr,b) located in Dhaka. As Bangladesh jostles with ever increasing healthcare challenges not limited to diarrheal diseases, the senior leadership of icddr,b is busy charting a career plan for Young Scientists of icddr,b.

Nurturing young scientists

With generous support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the icddr,b has developed an ambitious plan for handholding and nurturing its young scientists to take the challenge of delivering health care innovations, including in the areas of diarrheal diseases, emerging and remerging diseases, maternal and child mortality and malnutrition.

As Bangladesh jostles with ever increasing healthcare challenges not limited to diarrheal diseases, the senior leadership of icddr,b is busy charting a career plan for Young Scientists of icddr,b.

A handholding workshop was organized at icddr,b on May 2nd for guiding 25 young investigators with medical and public health qualifications so that they develop and position themselves as independent researchers. Each has been allocated funding support of about USD 80,000 for a period of 18 months.

These SIDA Young Scientists were selected through a rigorous process of evaluation and peer review. The workshop was jointly sponsored by SIDA and icddr,b. The day-long workshop included expert lectures addressing the interdisciplinarity of scientific innovation, intellectual property issues in the biomedical arena, quality monitoring and proficiency of laboratory resources, genomics, bioinformatics, biosafety, and biosecurity. The program also included visitation of clinical laboratories, biorepository and genomics facility of the icddr,b.

The participants were provided with an opportunity to take part in a lucky draw to become an associate faculty member of the F1000 Prime of which I have been a Faculty Member since 2007. The winner of the draw, Dr Muhammed Asaduzzaman will now work with me to select published articles for discussion at F1000 Prime.

We also hope to invite 5 of these young scientists to publish their SIDA funded research as well as opinionated articles in Gut Pathogens, of which I am Editor-in-Chief. Gut Pathogens and Biomed Central celebrate these SIDA Young Scientist awardees of icddr,b, and look forward to seeing them in action in fighting infection burden and health care challenges in Bangladesh and beyond.

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