Sunway-Cambridge to collaborate


  • Education
  • Sunday, 31 May 2020

Research matters: Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre is located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, the largest biotech cluster outside the United States.

SUNWAY University is in discussions with the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, to collaborate on ways to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

The varsities are in talks to explore opportunities for working together to enhance how the country is managing the situation, said Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah.

“The University of Cambridge is currently playing a leading role in the UK’s effort to understand and control new infections.

“We hope the research team will be able to successfully generate data that will be crucial to fight Covid-19, ” he said, adding that the Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease (CITIID) is located within the walls of the Jeffrey Cheah Biomedical Centre (JCBC) on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

There, Cambridge’s main response team against Covid-19, led by over 150 world class scientists and clinicians, is working to understand and control the infection, he added.

Thanking Cheah for JCBC’s contribution to international efforts in fighting the virus, University of Cambridge vice-chancellor Prof Stephen J. Troope said the centre has been pivotal to their clinical medicine response to Covid-19.

“We are launching multiple pre-clinical and clinical research studies and trials – spanning improved diagnostics, experimental treatments, vaccine candidates and large-scale observational studies – on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

“Many of these studies and trials are done in close partnership with our teaching hospital, Addenbrooke’s, ” he said, adding that CITIID now focuses entirely on Covid-19 research.

The new facility which includes a biocontainment capacity, enables the Cambridge team to make substantive contributions to national and international efforts, he said.

CITIID is home to the largest BSL (biosafety level three) containment facility in the UK, which was established to study the relationship between infectious diseases and human immune systems.

Research institutes with containment level three facilities are allowed to work on lethal and dangerous pathogens such as the coronavirus.

CITIID is currently leading the UK Government-supported Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium project to deliver large-scale, rapid sequencing of the cause of the disease.

The data obtained will help public health agencies to manage the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK and report on informed vaccine research efforts.

“No one could have anticipated the immediate and pressing role for the centre and we are glad that the University of Cambridge has it, ” said Prof Troope.

On a separate matter, Cheah said Sunway University has appointed world renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs as its Honorary Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development.

Prof Sachs joins a list of world class professors at Sunway University, where they will share their knowledge and expertise with academics and students as well as the public through lectures under the Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Speakers Series, forums and conferences.

Sunway University vice-chancellor Prof Graeme Wilkinson said Prof Sachs is arguably the most famous academic in his field who has dedicated his professional life to researching and campaigning for global sustainable development.

“He understands the fragility of our existence on this planet and recognises that a lot has to change in order for us to be able to sustain human civilisation into the future.”

He added that the academic community will benefit from Prof Sachs’ wisdom and guidance in the field of sustainable development.

Prof Sachs has been associated with Sunway University since 2016 as Chairman of the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development.

He is also a contributor to the University’s Master of Sustainable Development Management programme. His other roles include Professor at Columbia University, Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the Sustainable Development Goals.

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