By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
A GLOBAL CONFERENCE to be held next month will further the debate surrounding the implementation of a regenerative medicine industry in the Bahamas.
The International Stem Cell Society (STEMSO) global conference will be held at the Grand Lucayan Resort from February 19 - 22, 2014.
STEMSO is a member-based, international, non-profit trade association for the purpose of promoting the interests of the global, adult stem cell healthcare industry while linking patients and stakeholders with member medical organisations. STEMSO provides information, education, resources, advocacy and public awareness for the advancement of the adult stem cell industry.
Under the theme “Bridging the Gap: Research to Point of Care,” the conference is expected to bring together medical scientists, clinicians, regulatory experts, and investors to discuss topics ranging from progress in the field of research, clinical protocols, and “the process of responsibly bringing to market promising therapies to fight chronic disease.”
Minister of Grand Bahama Dr Michael Darville and Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez, will address the conference during the three days. Other speakers include stem cell researchers, scientists and practitioners at the forefront of discoveries in the regenerative medicine industry. Experts such as Mary Ann Chirba, JD, D.Sc, MPH, Boston College Law School will discuss the regulatory infrastructures to support the field of biologics in the USA and the Bahamas. Exhibitors will include leading device manufacturers and suppliers, such as Biospherix and others.
The government is in the process of completing regulations that will determine how stem cell research and treatment will be carried out in the Bahamas. The conference will serve the purpose of answering questions and addressing concerns through a formal panel that will include Dr Glen Beneby, medical advisor of the Public Hospital Authority (PHA) and member of the local stem cell task force.
Dr Beneby told Tribune Health the conference will provide an opportunity for Bahamians to be fully sensitises to what a stem cell industry might mean going forward.
“This is the first major international conference occurring in the Bahamas that would give the opportunity for a number of potential investors to actually come and participate in the Bahamas. Already a couple of those persons who are coming have expressed interest in actually doing scientific work in the Bahamas. We are looking at this from a medical and scientific point of view.
“Like any other conference it will give you opportunity to interact in the local environment with international experts in their particular area of expertise. And to ask questions. It gives potential investors the opportunities to put questions to government authorities as well as the technocrats as to what they see are the benefits of doing stem cell research in the Bahamas,” he said.
“I think it is a paradigm shift that the Bahamas is able to participate in a global environment. The legislation is an enabling legislation and it sets the parameters for a high quality of science.
Dr Beneby said the development of stem cell research will give Bahamians the opportunity to be trained in certain aspects of science and get experience in certain aspects of science that they would have not been given.
“There is a potential transfer of knowledge between international experts and local experts. In terms of the healthcare industry, the conference sets the stage for the development of a healthcare industry in a new niche that is not standard,” he said.
Dr Beneby also encouraged Bahamians to have an open mind and educate themselves on the issue.
“I want people to have an open mind, understand and not come to quick conclusions and judgements without giving the research process a chance to develop. Let us be intellectuals, let us be professionals and be objective in our opinions,” he said.