SOURCE: Ponce Health Sciences University

Ponce Health Sciences University

February 16, 2016 11:26 ET

Ponce Health Sciences University Expands Investment in Zika Research

A Cooperative Agreement Among the Centers for Disease Control, Hospital Episcopal San Lucas in Ponce, Ponce Health Sciences University and the Ponce Research Institute Will Provide Critical Zika Surveillance and Testing

PONCE, PUERTO RICO--(Marketwired - Feb 16, 2016) - In wake of the Zika virus global outbreak, Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU) and Ponce Research Institute, which have played a leading role in the development and implementation of Zika containment and treatment strategies, have announced additional funding to expand current research to include Zika testing and surveillance.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also agreed to provide grant funding to the University to support data collection and research efforts designed to:

  • Identify the incidence and impact of Zika in the Puerto Rico community;
  • Develop protocols for the intervention of sick patients, infected pregnant women and their offspring;
  • Provide clinical services to those affected by the disease;
  • Educate the community to prevent the spread; and
  • Equip health care professionals with the means to provide adequate education and intervention to the general population.

"It will only be through the joint efforts of the private and public sectors, including academic and research institutions, that such a serious threat shall be addressed," said Dr. David Lenihan, President and CEO of Ponce Health Sciences University. "Drawing upon our unique expertise, we are committed to be vigilant on the evolution of this threat and be an active partner with health authorities to detain Zika."

This effort will be directed by Dr. Luisa Alvarado, Professor of Pediatrics at PHSU School of Medicine, who oversees the world's largest monitoring system for Dengue and Chikungunya -- two diseases that, like the Zika fever, can be transmitted by mosquitoes. Dr. Alvarado leads grant research on the evaluation of Dengue Epidemiology, Prevention and Outcomes, and the Sentinel Enhanced Dengue Surveillance System, which is funded by a CDC Collaborative Agreement with Hospital Episcopal San Lucas Ponce and Guayama, and the Ponce Research Institute at PHSU.

"Puerto Rico is uniquely positioned to address the spread of Zika because of both our climate and long standing research on related diseases. We support Dr. Alvarado and her research efforts, and will continue to move forward during outbreaks such as this, as part of our commitment to conduct groundbreaking, impactful research on topics that affect our Hispanic communities," said Dr. Kenira Thompson, President of the Ponce Research Institute.

ABOUT PONCE HEALTH SCIENCES UNIVERSITY
Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU), a fully accredited U.S. medical school, is dedicated to providing the highest quality graduate education programs available in medicine, clinical psychology, biomedical sciences, and public health in order to prepare world-class, culturally competent health professionals to better serve a growing population of Hispanic patients across the United States. Located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, PHSU is recognized both in Puerto Rico and abroad for its educational service and research achievements.

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