Today has been a long time in the planning. The TIBA grant was formally announced some time ago through the usual University information pipelines. This funding however really deserved something with a bit more impact.
To give a bit of context to the event, TIBA, Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa, encompasses individuals from 9 African countries alongside researchers from The University of Edinburgh with funding from The National Institute for Health Research.
The task for TIBA: Address neglected tropical diseases in Africa using the diverse knowledge and experience of the grant members. This remit stretches further than laboratory based research by including expertise on health systems and policies to improve surveillance and distribution of knowledge gathered
So, invitations were duly sent out and as is the norm….those who were thought to be unlikely to make the date were up there with the first to RSVP in the positive with huge enthusiasm for the task ahead.
Our delegates came from far and wide and encompassed both the academic and commercial facets of the TIBA alliance. Furthest travelled were undoubtedly our South African delegates. The sun shone and if we ever wanted a day to showcase Edinburgh this was it!
The day started early with the TIBA directorate having an early morning meeting. Swift on the heel of this was a truly insightful talk given by John McConnell, editor of the Lancet Infectious Diseases. Gone forever are long breath taking sentences, paragraphs cluttered with jargon and irrelevant P values.
No time to waste as we moved from the Reid Concert Hall to The Project Room at 50 George Square. The arrival of up to 70 delegates for the main event was imminent and welcome launch booklet, delegate badges and refreshments were all to be set out.
Giving a helping hand to set up the venue and in general throughout the day were our African scholars pictured below.
Proceedings for the launch were kicked off by Seth Amanfo, who welcomed our guests and gave an introduction to the Vice Principle International of the University of Edinburgh, Professor James Smith. An interesting aside from James informed the audience that “TIBA” actually means to cure an infection in Swahili. Every day’s a school day!! To move seamlessly along each speaker introduced the following so it was up to Professor Smith to introduce Professor Mark Woolhouse, TIBA director and Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at The University of Edinburgh. After describing how TIBA will function with regards to partners from both industry and academia, Mark again emphasised that the research will be led by the African scientists. A brief “Theresa May” moment which was eased when a glass of water was delivered in an equally funny “Philp Hammond” moment. This allowed Mark to continue and introduce the third speaker of the afternoon, Professor Moses Chimbari, deputy director of TIBA, from The University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Moses explained the importance of TIBA to the African researchers and listed the 9 participating countries:
TIBA’s deputy director, Professor Francisca Mutapi, was next to take centre stage. Francisca introduced the first of 9 Rapid Impact Projects which will be funded by TIBA to the tune of £100K each. Rapid Impact Projects, which have a time scale of 1 year, were proposed by each partner country to reflect their particular priority health needs.
The task of officially launching TIBA initiative was finally given to The University of Edinburgh Senior Vice Principle, Professor Charlie Jeffery. Then followed an open question and answer session hosted by Seth, after which guests mingled and chatted with an array of tasty refreshments...
Now the launch dust has settled all that remains is to watch this space. As the Rapid Impact Projects all get underway you can keep up with the TIBA happenings by either checking in on the web site: http://tiba-partnership.org/ where you can see a video of the launch day’s proceedings (http://tiba-partnership.org/news/highlights-tiba-launch) or by following the TIBA Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/TibaPartnership.