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Wednesday, November 14, 2012


KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday November 13, 2012 – A team from the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has won the Minister’s Innovation Awards for 2012 for its pioneering treatment for high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

The “ Novel Treatment Against Hyperglycemia and Hypertension”  was adjudged as likely to be the most significant in its effect on the scientific and technological world and topped a field of 177 entrants in the awards competition developed by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.

The team comprising Dr. Lisa Lindo of the Biochemistry Department, Dr. Trevor Yee of the Natural Products Institute, and Professor Paul Reese of the Chemistry Department, also received the Champions ‘Innovator of the Year’ trophy and a cheque for two million dollars (One Jamaica dollar = US$0.04 cents).

In addition the treatment also won the Health and Wellness category, earning the team a further J$750,000.

“This is a great feeling,” said Dr. Lindo explaining that the team used the eucalyptus plant in their experiment and found that extracts were doing better than some popular drugs now in use to lower hypertension and blood sugar.

She said they were in the process of patenting the drug and looking forward to have it produced as a supplement to be taken orally.

“It is really great because now I am thinking that we can look into more research, more into folklore medicine. We know that everybody looks into drinking these plants but we don’t really know what is in these plants causing the effects, so now we have now proved, in this case, what is really in it and what it is good for,” she added.

The UWI team shared the spotlight with a group of students from Sutherland Primary School in St. James, who won the Youth Award for their Sutherland Quick Patch, which is designed to fill potholes. They received a one million dollar cheque and a trophy.

Distinguished Jamaican-born chemist, Professor Bert Fraser Reid, who has done ground breaking research into the chemistry of sugar, addressed the awards function encouraging the entrants not to give up if even if they were not successful on the fist occasion.

The Minister’s Innovation Award was being staged for the fourth time since its introduction in 2005. It is aimed at nurturing a culture of creativity and stimulating or catalyzing innovation through the application of science and technology to drive economic growth and wealth creation.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell, said he was pleased that after a brief hiatus, the Ministry has once again begun to salute the achievers and innovators in a spectacular way. He pledged that the competition will be held annually.

Stating that the country’s development will soon be judged on the number of patents registered annually, he said that “we are going to get our youngsters in schools to …focus now on the sciences (and) to stop thinking that these are hard subjects.

“We need more Mathematicians, we need more Chemists, we need more Physicists… it is in these areas that we have opportunities that we are going to exploit.” (CMC)


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