Plans progress for advancement in medicine, science
President, Dr Irfaan Ali (centre) with Professor Padmanee Sharma (left) and her husband Professor James Allison at State House (Office of the President photo)
President, Dr Irfaan Ali (centre) with Professor Padmanee Sharma (left) and her husband Professor James Allison at State House (Office of the President photo)

–President Ali engages US-based cancer specialists on formation of milestone advisory council
-new medical school, PhD programme also discussed

PRESIDENT, Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday met with Nobel Prize winner, Professor James Allison and his wife, Guyana-born Professor Padmanee Sharma, and among the matters discussed was the creation of a Presidential Advisory Council on Medicine and Science.

The President also discussed the setting up of a medical school and a PhD programme in Guyana, to supplement the government’s vision for the development of Guyana as a hub for medical care.

Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle after the meeting, the two scholars noted how impressed they were by the vision that the President laid out for the improvement of medical education in Guyana.

“We were very happy with what we heard because it aligns with our vision and we thought it would be great to serve on this advisory council,” Dr Sharma commented.

“This is my first time meeting him [the President] and having a conversation, but it just aligned so much with what we thought should be done in Guyana to help with establishing a stronger scientific and medical research programme here,” she added.

She also explained that such a programme will enable foreign students to come to Guyana to be trained in medicine and science as the country moves forward in building a bright future.

Dr Sharma is an immunologist and oncologist at the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Centre which is located in Houston, Texas. She holds the position of professor of genitourinary medical oncology and immunology in the Division of Cancer Medicine where she specialises in renal, prostate, and bladder cancers.

Dr Sharma, who was born in Berbice, migrated to the USA in 1980, but has always had a strong tie to Guyana.

She returned to her homeland to establish Abraham’s Tent Inc., a non-profit organisation.

“My grandmother has always instilled in us that we should always come back and help our community, and I’ve always felt like this is home. I know that I’m Guyanese and this is my home,” Dr Sharma expressed.

According to her the conversation with President Ali was productive.

“It was a wonderful conversation with the President, where we were able to discuss what his vision is for the people of Guyana and what his vision is for the infrastructure of medicine and science in Guyana and how we can contribute to that, based on our expertise and the resources in science and medicine.”

Professors Allison and Sharma are currently in Guyana to commission a school, Scholar’s Academy, that was built through Abraham’s Tent Inc. in No. 74 Village in Berbice.

The school was built with funds from Professor Allison’s Nobel Prize.

Dr Allison won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his part in discoveries in cancer therapy.  Dr Allison is the executive director of immunotherapy platform at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre, and has been working together with Dr Sharma for over 20 years.

“She is always talking about Guyana and made a really passionate case for building the school in Guyana, so she got me involved in that. When we talked to the President today and he started laying out this idea and his plans for medical and science in Guyana and it resonated well with my own though on what can be done,” Dr Allison shared.


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