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New education partnership to improve access to medicine in African countries

The Merck Foundation is funding master’s degree scholarships for Purdue’s Biotechnology Innovation and Regulatory Science Program in Tanzania, Africa.

Tanzania, Africa

Purdue University has partnered with the Merck Foundation to offer a master’s degree in Tanzania aimed at improving access to quality medicines and increasing life expectancy for citizens in several African countries.

Purdue professors and Merck scientists will teach courses in Tanzania as part of a new master’s degree program in biotechnology innovation and regulatory science. The program, which is focused on drug development, quality and manufacturing, is offered by the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation (TLI) and is associated with the Biotechnology Innovation and Regulatory Science Center in Purdue’s College of Technology.

“The people of Africa face a health care crisis due, in part, to the lack of access to quality medicines,” says Ragu Athinaryanan, head of the TLI. “In 28 sub-Saharan Africa countries, the life expectancy is 25 years less than in the United States, Europe and Japan. Merck’s funding makes it possible for us to bring Purdue’s expertise to an area of the world that needs it most. Our presence in Tanzania represents one of the programs in the College of Technology’s growing list of global initiatives.”

Merck’s $600,000 gift will provide funding for 25 students to complete the master’s degree and another 25 students to start the program, the first of its kind. As part of the program, Merck pharmaceutical experts will periodically assist with classroom instruction.

The strategy for the program’s development was provided by Sister Zita Ekeocha of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, who is also a pharmacist, and Purdue Professor Stephen Byrn. They envisioned an educational platform that would include both classroom and hands-on education. “We are extremely pleased to be at this stage in the development of our Sustainable Medicines in Africa project,” says Byrn. “The collaboration of Merck scientists and Purdue professors to integrate academic perspective and professional knowledge makes this program even more special.”

About Merck Foundation  The Merck Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck, a global healthcare leader, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck's chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable organizations. Since its inception, the Merck Foundation has contributed more than $785 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck's overall mission to help the world be well.

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