Miller School’s New Agreement with The Bahamas Will Advance Collaborative Initiatives

A new University of Miami Miller School of Medicine agreement with the government of The Bahamas provides the framework for collaborative initiatives in medical education, research, and clinical care, including stem cells and regenerative medicine. It also advances ongoing discussions about the possibility of establishing a new Miller School-supported medical school in The Bahamas.

Bahamas Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on March 14 with Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Dean of the Miller School, and Joshua Hare, M.D., the Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine and founding director of the Miller School’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute.

“This MOU provides that the University of Miami could engage in education, training physicians, health care practitioners and scientists in finding new treatments and therapies for heart disease, neurological disease, bone disease, diabetes, cancer, eye diseases and other chronic, debilitating or incurable diseases,” Christie said at the signing.

Since the signing, representatives of The Bahamas have traveled to Miami for ongoing discussions about a broader education and training partnership with the Miller School, including a possible new medical school, Hare said.

Noting that The Bahamas recently implemented national health insurance, Christie said the new agreement comes at a “pivotal time” in the nation’s history. He added that the MOU will facilitate the Miller School’s establishment of relationships with health care providers, developing telemedicine facilities, and offering specialty training for physicians and medical practitioners in additional areas, upon request from the Ministry of Health/Public Hospitals Authority, and in collaboration with the University of the West Indies School of Clinical Medicine and Research.

Goldschmidt called the MOU an important step for the Miller School, whose international initiatives are aligned with the University of Miami’s vision of becoming a hemispheric and relevant leader in research, education and service.

“This agreement solidifies the growing relationship of the Miller School and UHealth with the Bahamas Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority,” he said. “We also look forward to advancing the dynamic field of regenerative medicine in The Bahamas.”

In addition to the MOU, Hare signed a consultancy services agreement to advise the Bahamas Ministry of Health on building a stem cell research program. Hare noted that the Bahamian government has passed laws that allow stem cell clinical trials to be conducted in the Caribbean nation, as long as the sponsors have regulatory approvals in the United States, European Union or Japan. In March, the Bahamian government gave approval to Thorn Medical PLC to use human stem cells to treat a range of conditions and illnesses.

“We are consulting with the Ministry of Health on developing the appropriate infrastructure for stem cell research, including policies and procedures for enrolling and monitoring the health of participants in trials,” Hare said.

Hare added that Miller School representatives have been holding ongoing discussions with Bahamian health leaders since Christie led a delegation to the Miller School in 2013.

“With the MOU, we will be able to continue that dialogue and explore new collaborative possibilities,” he said.

Conville S. Brown, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of The Bahamas Center For Heart Disease, and The Partners Stem Cell Centre at The Medical Pavilion Bahamas in Nassau, called the agreement with the Miller School “a momentous occasion in the history of the advancement of organized and monitored ethical research in stem cell and regenerative medicine in The Bahamas.”

Brown said he advised Christie several years ago to consider partnering with the University of Miami.

“With this MOU and oversight agreement several years later, I am thrilled to see this come to reality,” he said. “I have every confidence in the University of Miami to lead and guide The Bahamas, with its landmark legislation, to become one of the leaders in the world in this exciting new frontier of medicine.”

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