The Rockefeller Foundation and Mahidol University deepen commitment to strengthening Asia’s medical, nutrition, and agri-sciences community.
From left to right (5th) Deepali Khanna, Vice President, Asia, The Rockefeller Foundation; (6th) Elizabeth Yee, Executive Vice President of Program Strategy and Chief of Staff, The Rockefeller Foundation; (7th) Prof. Banchong Mahaisavariya, M.D., President of Mahidol University announce collaboration to strengthen Asia’s medical, nutrition, and agri-sciences community.
~Over $2 million additionally committed by The Rockefeller Foundation to Mahidol University.
~With its legacy of helping in Thailand’s development, The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history of collaborating with Mahidol University, committing over $8.8 million dollars in 36 projects in the areas of agriculture, health, biotechnology, and nutrition since 1990.
~The latest project of $105,000, launched with the support of Thailand International Cooperation Agency, will strengthen capacities of medical and public health professionals, food system-related policy makers and nutrition professionals to improve public health and food security in Thailand and other developing countries.
The Rockefeller Foundation, in close consultation with Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), announced a new collaboration with Mahidol University to enhance and strengthen the work performed by medical, public health, and nutrition professionals across several Asian countries.
With $105,000 in new funding The Rockefeller Foundation will support Mahidol University experts to provide training to medical technology, maternal health and nutrition professionals in ASEAN countries.
Along with this project, Mahidol University is currently implementing two other programs in collaboration with The Rockefeller Foundation focused on strengthening genomic surveillance facilities and capacity building for measuring diet quality. In total, the Foundation has supported the University with grants amounting to $2.2 million in recent years.
Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mahidol University on Capacity Building for Medical and Health Science Education Hub in August 2021, the current project announced between The Rockefeller Foundation and Mahidol University is inspired by TICA, Thailand’s primary governmental entity administering the country’s international development cooperation.
Mrs. Ureerat Chareontoh, Director-General of TICA, noted, “with its mission in enhancing partnerships for development towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), TICA has prioritized its cooperation into four security areas, namely Employment, food, environmental and energy, as well as health. The MFA-MU MoU is one of the development collaboration initiatives in response to the aforementioned health security policy. The project focuses on strengthening capacity building and human resource development for medical personnel of Mahidol University in order to provide better services for Thai people and stronger platforms for the transfer of knowledge and expertise to other developing countries.”
TICA’s priorities match closely with those of The Rockefeller Foundation, and this recent collaboration with Mahidol University helps in expanding the reach of the ongoing projects in the areas of public health and nutrition to advance the impact of this shared mission of overall development.
Speaking about this new collaboration, Deepali Khanna, Vice President, Asia, The Rockefeller Foundation said, “Over the years, The Rockefeller Foundation has partnered with Mahidol University on multiple occasions as the University demonstrates continued leadership in medical and scientific research in Asia. With Thailand’s deep investment, history and technology, we are thrilled to support the efforts of Mahidol University and TICA to expand their work in strengthening and creating centres of excellence and institutional building.”
President of Mahidol University, Banchong Mahaisavariya, said, “Mahidol University has set our goals in bridging the gap between knowledge accumulation and knowledge translation to the society. With the support of The Rockefeller Foundation and TICA, we have joined forces in taking the leadership role regionally and globally in fostering health-related networks in response to the pandemic, healthcare services and skill upgrades, food and nutrition centre of excellence and communities of practice in local communities so on. Mahidol University continues to leverage our key resources to echo the learning application for the benefit of mankind.”
The Foundation has two projects in the spheres of public health and nutrition underway with Mahidol University. Through The Rockefeller Foundation’s Pandemic Preventive Institute, which aims to revolutionize the way the world approaches pandemic preparedness harnessing the use of data and technology, the Mahidol University Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine (GEM) received a $1.2 million grant in 2021. As a result, the University’s genomic surveillance team has successfully reduced the duration of genomic sequencing of Covid-19 variants from over a month to less than a week., and The GEM team has also expanded its support to other ASEAN genomic surveillance teams, improving their ability to detect and respond to Covid-19 variants and other emerging viral threats and the region’s overall pandemic response capacity.
Mahidol University is also working with the Foundation to fight the double burden of malnutrition (under and over- nutrition existing simultaneously) in the Global South by using a Global Diet Quality Score (GDQS) standard to understand the quality of food in the geography. The $500,000 in funding will help the University build capacity of nutritional professionals to conduct large-scale population surveys using the GDQS to scale up dietary quality and nutritional biomarkers in the population.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s legacy in Thailand
In 1917, The Rockefeller Foundation initiated Thailand’s anti-hookworm campaign and helped in creating the country’s first ministry of health.
Collaborated with the Thai government between 1917-1934 to establish medical and nursing education in the country with Prince Mahidol’s assistance.
Since 1990, the Foundation has supported over 36 projects at Mahidol University by granting close to $8.8 million in funds for these initiatives in agriculture, health, and nutrition.
The Foundation has extended its Urban Climate Change practices to Thailand through inclusion Hat Yai and Chiang Rai (among other Thai cities) in its support of practices through its 100 Resilient Cities Network and the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) initiative.
The Foundation continues to support Siriraj Hospital and Mahidol University and has in the past worked with the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Mahidol University, Kasetsart University, Khon Kaen University, Julapark Chunwongse and Burachai Sonthayanon to further agricultural research and ensure food security in the country.