Buffalo Jamaica Innovation Enterprise


Univerisity of the West Indies Faculty Visiting UB to meet with SUNY and BJIE members.

The Buffalo Jamaica Innovation Enterprise consists of leaders of the University at Buffalo, the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO), the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo (JAAB) and the City of Buffalo working together to connect Buffalo with Jamaica fostering collaboration in health care and information technology projects.

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BJIE History

From the Start: In January 2013, a one-day meeting, chaired by Dr. Gene Morse, SUNY Distinguished Professor, took place at the University at Buffalo Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences with multiple presentations related to the proposed program between Buffalo and Jamaica. The attendees included leadership of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO), the Jamaica American Association of Buffalo and the City of Buffalo. Buffalo health care business leaders were also present. The meeting concluded with discussions that created a framework for the planning of the Buffalo Jamaica Innovation Enterprise.

Core Committee: A Core Committee was formed that included Dr. Morse, Dr. Charles Anderson, Sr, MD and Ms. Beverly Joy on a weekly basis throughout 2013, 2014 and up to the present in 2015. Dr. Anderson is an ex officio member of the Jamaica Ministry of Health Think Tank and Advisory Group on mobilizing support for health from the Jamaica Diaspora. Dr. Anderson is the co-founder of Project Respect and the National Medical Association, Buffalo Chapter. As a member of Caribbean Medical Mission and HELP Jamaica Medical Mission, he has provided free medical care throughout the Caribbean. Dr. Anderson is the Chairman of the Board of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo, a member organization of NAJASO. Mrs. Joy is an Executive Committee member of the Board of the Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo.

BJIE Themes

  • Technology and Patient Safety Implementation Research: Develop patient safety monitoring systems using biometrics, bioinformatics and electronic health records in collaboration with Jamaica Medical Missions, UB's Patient Safety Organization, the SUNY Global Health Institute and the UB Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors.
  • Infectious Diseases Research Training: A NIH Fogarty International Center application to establish a Jamaica Global Infectious Diseases Training Program that will mentor graduate students and young faculty for future positions through a collaboration between UB and the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus that is currently in planning stages.
  • Jamaica Center for Infectious Diseases Research, a national program with the Jamaica Ministry of Health and the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in collaboration with UB, has completed the planning phase. The new program will provide a regional center of excellence for Caribbean countries.
  • SUNY Global Health Institute and GVN Collaboration: UB and the Global Virus Network (GVN) have been working together to encourage a collaboration that would lead to the development of a GVN affiliate in Jamaica. In addition, the SUNY Global Health Institute has formed a working group that includes faculty from UB, SUNY Upstate and SUNY Downstate that will focus on education, research and capacity building in the SUNY Global Health Institute and Jamaica that also includes health professional training and STEM programs.
  • Western New York STEM Hub of the Empire State STEM Network: A joint committee is being formed to develop an implementation and collaboration strategy between the WNY STEM Hub and the Jamaica Ministry of Education to establish shared STEM projects.
  • National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO); NAJASO is developing a 501-C3 for the Buffalo-Jamaica Innovation Partnership and a foundation to establish a UB Coordinating Center with the Translational Pharmacology Research Core in the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences for international education and research programs.
  • International Sister City Program: The Buffalo-Jamaica Innovation Enterprise has established a program with the City of Buffalo to advance the Sister City program between Buffalo and St. Anne’s Parish focusing on St. Anne’s Hospital and its associated health clinics.
  • Youth Entrepreneur Program: The Buffalo-Jamaica Innovation Enterprise and the City of Buffalo are developing a program to foster entrepreneurial development among the youth in Buffalo and Jamaica.

Technology and Patient Safety


Background:  Jamaica recently experienced an acute chikungunya virus outbreak. In addition, many patients are experiencing other acute infections (e.g. influenza), mosquito borne viruses (e.g. dengue), as well as chronic viral infections including HIV, HCV and HBV. The potential for detecting and treating ebola infection in individuals entering Jamaica is also a high priority for Jamaica public health officials.

  • At present there are approximately 500 medical mission trips to Jamaica each year, complementing the existing healthcare system and providing healthcare services in rural areas. However, the personal health information obtained during these medical missions are often collected on handwritten forms and not compiled in a format that allows continuity of care.
  • Public health officials have communicated the need for a unified records system to support population health management and outbreak surveillance efforts.
  • A comprehensive system that will employ biometrics and bioinformatics expertise at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY) along with expertise in global health and infectious disease surveillance at Downstate Medical Center, Upstate Medical University and additional expertise from the Global Virus Network will forge a new partnership with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica as well as the National American Jamaican and Societies Organization (NAJASO) that coordinates the medical missions program to promote continuity of care.
  • The integration of this new program within the SUNY Global Health Institute will provide a mechanism for SUNY students and faculty to access the initiative, identify potential education opportunities and join research teams within the growing infrastructure of the SUNY Global Health Institute. Our initiative coincides with SUNY Health’s vision of maximizing diverse strengths in biomedical research across the SUNY campuses and we  anticipate that this model will have broad application and will be used in SUNY partnerships with other countries.

Education and Training

One of the initial education and training initiatives will be the Jamaica Global Infectious Diseases Research Training Program (GIDRTP).

  • The GIDRTP administration builds on existing research administrative infrastructure that exists at the University at Buffalo, the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, and the Ministry of Health, Jamaica.
  • This approach will be very effective at providing administrative activities that are key for a successful training program.
  • This infrastructure will contribute to logistics associated with travel, webinars, data management, recruiting and evaluations and thus allow the trainees to focus on their curriculum and conducting a research project leading to a highly efficient program.
  • The program will receive input from a highly qualified external Training Advisory Committee that will provide input on team mentoring, global health priorities, programmatic considerations, recruitment strategies and evaluation metrics.

STEM Programs

The WNY STEM Hub of the Empire State STEM Learning Network facilitates collaboration among business, education, community organizations, arts and cultural organizations, and government entities to advance the interdisciplinary teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics in support of sustained economic and intellectual vitality in our five-county region.

WNY will be a thriving economic region whose innovative workforce and citizenry are created through interdisciplinary STEM collaboration.

additional information on the WNY STEM Hub is available at: http://wnystem.org/

WNY STEM Hub meets with Jamaica Minister of Education: At a recent meeting with the Jamaica Minister of Education, representatives of WNY STEM and the Buffalo Jamaica Innovation Enterprise (BJIE) met to discuss the STEM initiative for Jamaica.

  • Present for the BJIE were Dr. Joe Whittaker, Dr. Relva Buchanan, Dr. Charles Anderson, Mrs. Beverly Joy and Dr. Michelle Kavanaugh.  Among the representatives from the Ministry of Education were: Seymour Hamilton, Joan Higgins, Garfield King, Vivienne Pitter, Bernadette Ranglin, Daphine Simon, Jasmine Waite and Owen Wilson.
  • The Minister explained that the Jamaican initiative included a STEM focus as early as the primary years and an effort to convert several secondary schools to STEM academies. The STEM focus cuts across all disciplines.
  • Several items were identified for collaboration including the Jamaican team's interest in Robotics, funding opportunities and validation/certification for STEM education.  There was interest in pursuing further communication between the groups.

In addition to the visit to the Ministry of Education, Drs. Buchanan, Kavanaugh, Anderson and Whittaker also met with representatives of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus School of Engineering. This is the first year of operation for this new four year program. Next year, it is anticipated that an engineering program will be established through the university that will employ students.


The Jamaican and American Association of Buffalo (JAAB), founded in 1989 in Buffalo, NY was the city’s heartfelt response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Gilbert.  Jamaicans and their American counterparts came together as one to provide support for those whose lives had been altered by the hurricane’s effects.  Since its inception, JAAB has provided solace to many people (both in the US and abroad) in the form of effective medical, educational, economic and cultural programs. JAAB, a member organization of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (a U.S. based 501c(3) non-profit organization), embodies the Jamaican National Seal's motto: Out of many, one people!

The National Association of Jamaican & Supportive Organizations, Inc. (NAJASO) is a non-profit, tax-exempt umbrella  Association of Jamaicans and supporters throughout the United States and internationally. NAJASO was founded July 4, 1977, when representatives of Jamaican groups from across the United States of America met in Washington, DC and launched the national body to address immediate problems which primarily affected their communities in the United States.

  • NAJASO embraces many non-Jamaicans in organizations and individually, who support the Association’s programs; and also works closely with American and Caribbean organizations on issues affecting Jamaica, in particular, and the Caribbean in general. NAJASO does not support any political party in Jamaica, but carries out its program of assistance to Jamaica without any partisan political consideration.
  • Additional information about NAJASO is available at: http://najaso.org/