NIH, IMU collaboration to boost research, have health impact on Malaysians
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and International Medical University (IMU) strengthens their research collaboration with the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The MoU will further enhance the existing collaboration between the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and IMU to include the other five research institutes in NIH with the objectives of elevating the areas of medical education and health research in Malaysia. NIH is a network of six research institutions under the Ministry of Health, namely IMR, Institute for Public Health (IPH), Institute for Health System Research (IHSR), Institute for Health Management (IHM), Institute for Health Behavioural Research (IHBR) and Clinical Research Centre Network (CRC).
This is the right time for the collaboration between NIH and IMU as all the six research institutes of NIH will be relocated to Setia Alam and undergo a restructuring process whereby the institutes themselves will be working closely together in a more coordinated way, said Datuk Dr Shahnaz Murad, Deputy Director-General of Health (Research and Technical Support Programme), Ministry of Health Malaysia.
The collaboration will have both parties working closely together through joint appointments of visiting professors and scientists; access to research and teaching resources such as laboratory facilities, specialized equipment and literatures; collaborative research and human resource development.
“Research in healthcare is becoming increasingly complex. It is increasingly important that decisions are made based on solid evidence especially in times with limited resources. Therefore, it is imperative that we work together to make the most impact on health and healthcare for the benefits of the rakyat of Malaysia. I look forward to the fruitful cooperation and collaboration between IMU and NIH to make this happen,” said Shahnaz.
“We are delighted to sign this memorandum that will enable IMU and NIH to work closely together and deepen our cooperation on health research and medical education with the single objective of bringing both areas to greater heights in the country,” said Professor Abdul Aziz Baba, Vice-Chancellor of IMU.
The key areas of research for NIH over the next 5 years include tropical diseases, infectious diseases, common cancers, health systems research, behavioural research, clinical research—both industry sponsored research and investigator-initiated research; maternal and infant mortality; surveys on noncommunicable diseases and healthcare financing, said Shahnaz.
IMR has an additional function of diagnostics which is provided for the public and private hospitals. The diagnostic laboratories will be expanded in the current location in Kuala Lumpur, she added.
“In IMU, we are prioritizing our research agenda so that we focus our efforts in trying to address common health issues that face countries globally,” said Professor Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, Director, Institute for Research, Development and Innovation, IMU.
For example, for the next 5 years, the focus will be on diabetes prevention and there are a lot of opportunities between IMU and IMR to work closely so that the research output from this collaboration will help to address some research questions, he said.
Most of the current collaboration between IMU and IMR is on cancer research with a focus on pancreatic cancer. The MoU will spur higher levels of research on pancreatic cancer, which is rare and difficult to manage because early diagnosis and treatment are challenging. IMU is also exploring collaboration on infectious diseases research which includes common diseases that are prevalent both locally and globally such as dengue and tuberculosis, he said.