Promote Scientific Research in Armenia
Since 2011, a group of American and European-Armenian professors and academics have organized and taught advanced one-week long training courses, in Armenia, to graduate students in biology. the courses were developed by Raffi Aroian (University of Massachusetts Medical School) and Haig Alexander Eskandarian (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). Their specialty is one coherent course focused on the thematic of host-pathogen interactions, for which Armenia faces critical health problems like chronic tuberculosis brought on by antibiotic persistence or genetic disorders like Familial Mediterranean Fever, for which the role of infectious bacteria play a critical role in disease outcomes. Their goal is to teach Armenian students and researchers the approaches to how science research is conducted for the discovery of fundamental concepts in biology.
In order to begin the courses this group of scientists and researchers raised $7,300 to purchase needed equipment including incubators for culturing and cultivating bacteria, three dissecting microscopes and an upright optical fluorescence microscope for live cell imaging. Their goal has been to train students and researchers to undertake their own experiments using the equipment that they purchased and have donated to Professor Nelli Hovhannisyan’s lab, at Yerevan State University. Nelli’s lab hosts these courses and maintains the instruments. She also offers a select group of talented trained students the opportunity to continue the studies that they sought to begin during our course.
Their ultimate goal is to establish enough physical infrastructures and technical and philosophical knowledge for young researchers taking the courses to be able to build their own research themes and interests out of the experiments that they were taught. The end result would be for the students to publish their own work and eventually apply for research funding in order to continue to pursue their research interests that spawned out of these courses. Currently, they are in need of additional funding in order to continue this program. Sponsorship of this project will help raise the funds needed to purchase additional equipment and the ability to invite groups of professors and young researchers from abroad interested in teaching prolonged lecture and practical training courses to Armenian students and researchers. The equipment they presently need includes one inverted optical phase contrast microscope ($5,000) and a more sophisticated inverted phase contrast fluorescence microscope ($10,000). $10,000 is budgeted for establishing practical advanced training courses with international professors and researchers. This program will provide intensive lecture and practical training courses to graduate students specializing in a field of research related to biomedicine.
The group of professors and researchers include:
Raffi Aroian (University of Massachusetts Medical School)
Diane Barber (University of California, San Francisco)
Haig Alexander Eskandarian (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)
Alexander Hajnal (University of Zurich)
Bana Jabri (University of Chicago)
Sarkis Mazmanian (California Institute of Technology)
Erich Schwartz (Cornell University)
Infectious disease originating from pathogenic bacteria or parasites remains a major risk to the health and wellbeing of Armenians and a burden on society. It is estimated that one in four Armenians is infected with parasitic nematodes. In addition, bacterial infections, like tuberculosis, remain difficult to treat because we still do not have adequate means of clearing the infection. Therefore, it is imperative to train competent scientists and researchers to discover why infectious diseases persist and resist treatment.
Short Term Impact
In the short term, science equipment will be purchased and intensive lecture and practical training courses will be offered to graduate students specializing in a field of research related to biomedicine.
Long Term Impact
In the long term, this program can provide sustainable and innovative course offerings by inviting more researchers and professors to participate in the co-conception of and teaching of both the lecture courses and practical courses. In addition, it can help expand course syllabi by offering researchers and professors from abroad a budget to create their own practical courses. Such a program can help spur cutting edge research in Armenia (i.e. building microfluidic devices for studying bacterial antibiotic resistance).
Sponsorship of this project will be recognized on The Paros Foundation website and in appropriate press related to this important project. Laboratory equipment can be named in honor of major benefactors. Donors will also be acknowledged throughout the course for their contributions. The Paros Foundation will happily arrange a visit to the Yerevan State University when you are in Armenia.