April 8, 2021, by Jason Feehily

Nottingham-Indonesia Collaboration for Clinical Research and Training (NICCRAT) provides capacity building for pathologists from Indonesia and other developing countries through our Nottingham Gastrointestinal Masterclass 2021

The Academic Unit of Molecular Pathology and the Nottingham Molecular Pathology Node in the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham delivered the Nottingham Gastrointestinal (GI) Pathology Masterclass from 8th to 11th March 2021. Led by Professor Mohammad Ilyas, Head of the GI Molecular Pathology Group, the 4-day intensive workshop held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it covered the latest updates on histological and molecular diagnosis in the GI tract. The world-class faculty drew from academic pathologists from University of Nottingham (Dr. Abhik Mukherjee, Dr. Philip Kaye, Dr. Abid Zaitoun) and from other institutions (Prof Heike Grabsch (Maastricht), Dr. Newton Wong (Bristol), Prof Neil Shepherd (Gloucester), Dr Maurice Loughrey (Belfast), Dr Adrian Bateman (Southampton), Prof Rob Goldin (London), Dr Antony Darne (Newcastle) and Dr Beate Haugk (Newcastle).

The masterclass saw 135 registered delegates from the UK and Europe and 25 delegates from other developing countries including Egypt, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bosnia & Herzegovina. 95 delegates from Indonesia were invited to participate in the masterclass as part of the capacity building activity of Prof Ilyas’s Newton Fund project entitled “Improving Clinical Outcome in Indonesia with a Novel diagnostic test for Colorectal Cancer (ICONICC)”. As part of the ICONICC project, registration was free for all Indonesian delegates as well for any delegates in countries classed as Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).

Speaking of the workshop, Prof Ilyas said: “Thanks to infrastructure built as part of the Nottingham Molecular Pathology Node and funding from the ICONICC project, we were able to deliver this masterclass to a worldwide audience. We were thrilled to have so many delegates register for the course and delighted to be able to continue our collaborative activities with our Indonesian colleagues”.

The partnership between the University of Nottingham and several Indonesian academic partners has been cultivated through the NICCRAT (Nottingham-Indonesia Collaboration for Clinical Research and Training) initiative. NICCRAT was initiated by Prof Mohammad Ilyas and his former PhD student, Dr. Susanti who now works as a postdoctoral researcher in the group. Several research groups (within the School of Medicine and School of Life Sciences at the University are now part of NICCRAT. They are working alongside several institutions in Indonesia, such as Indonesia Institute of Sciences (a state-owned research body) and the medicals school of Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Universitas YARSI, Universitas Riau, and Muhammadiyah University network as well as Indonesian Cancer Association. So far, NICCRAT has delivered multiple activities helping to foster the research and training collaborations with counterparts in Indonesia. All along, NICCRAT has been supported by Indonesian Ministry of Research and Technology as well as the Indonesian Embassy London.

Prof Ali Ghufron Mukti, the Director of BPJS (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Sosial/ Indonesian Universal Health Coverage) and Former Chief Consortium of Research and Innovation on Covid-19 Ministry of Research and Technology), quotes “Indonesia Ministry of Research and Technology welcomes and support the initiative of NICCRAT. The Ministry actively engages with the UK counterpart to not only to promote closer collaboration between Indonesia and UK in the field of education, research and innovation but also to connect them within the context of development in Indonesia. The NICCRAT’s initiatives in the field of molecular diagnostic and genetics of diseases such as cancer and COVID-19, including the continuous contribution through various capacity building activities such as the recent GI Pathology Masterclass, has supported the Indonesian government to strengthen its ability in providing stronger health sectors and research ecosystem, especially in unprecedented times of COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, NICCRAT research and training portfolio are expected to support the BPJS Health Programme through improved quality of diagnosis and treatment of disease like cancer and COVID-19”.

Meanwhile, Dr. Muhammad Arif Rokhman, Education and Culture Attaché of Indonesian Embassy London quotes, “As the driving force behind the significant research and training partnership in the clinical areas, NICCRAT initiated by Prof. Mohammad Ilyas and Dr. Susanti and supported by other Indonesian and British scholars should be praised for its efforts and achieved milestones so far and should be continuously supported by all parties caring about the improvement of human health. I was amazed at how participants from different nations were involved in the recent masterclass, which has shown how significant and important the project is. I recommend that the activity should be continually organised to disseminate the knowledge for the improvement of human health around the world, particularly in the developing countries”.

Adopting the ABGC (Academic, Business, Government and Community) concept of cooperation, in addition to patient and public involvement, NICCRAT collaboratively works on research projects that focus on understanding better the high incidence of young patients with cancer in Indonesia and developing low-cost molecular diagnostics tool to support better disease management. While the primary research area of NICCRAT lies on the molecular diagnostics and pathology of cancer, the current situation with COVID-19 pandemic has open the opportunity for NICCRAT researchers, both in Nottingham and Indonesia, to work closely with Indonesia authorities to support the disease management in the country, through research projects and capacity buildings (workshops and consultations) in developing more robust PCR test workflow and performing whole genome sequencing of the virus.

Following the success of the current and past activities, NICCRAT is committed to being the catalyst for stimulating more research and training partnership between the University of Nottingham and developing countries beyond Indonesia.


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