Universidad de Córdoba representatives visit Stempel College, sign partnership agreement

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Representatives from the Universidad de Córdoba in Colombia recently visited Stempel College as the two institutions embark on a new research project together.

“These relationships that we are forging with the Universidad de Córdoba and other universities in Colombia will advance our research and educational agenda in Latin America, which is directly linked to Stempel’s college excellence and mission,” said Stempel Dean Tomás R. Guilarte.

Jairo Torres-Oviedo, president of the Universidad de Córdoba; José Luis Marrugo-Negrete, professor; Roberth Paternina-Uribe, professor; and Ivan Urango, professor; met with Dean Tomás R. Guilarte and Director of the Global Health Consortium Carlos Espinal to sign a partnership agreement that will give both institutions the opportunity to share research as well as laying the ground work future educational collaborations.

“This is an opportunity for us to further our ties in Colombia and extend our research with partners like our colleagues at the Universidad de Córdoba,” said Espinal. “Our hope is that the Atrata River project will just be the first of many that our institutions formally work on together – and that this leads to educational exchange and opportunities that can improve global health.”

The partnership between Stempel College and the Universidad de Córdoba comes after a recent grant that the two institutions received – along with Universidad Tecnologica del Choco Diego Luis Cordoba – to study the Atrato River in Colombia. The $3 million grant from COLCIENCIAS – Colombia’s administrative department of science, technology and innovation – will give the three institutions the opportunity to better understand how gold mining have affected the health outcomes of the local population and what the necessary steps will be to clean the river and its surrounding areas.

The project will include surveying more than 6,000 local inhabitants of the area, testing their hair, blood and urine for mercury, lead, arsenic among other contaminants. The project will also test local water, sediments, plants and food sources such as fish.

“The three day visit was an opportunity for our two institutions to strengthen collaborative ties on key health issues affecting the most vulnerable populations in Colombia,” said Espinal.

While visiting Stempel, the Universidad de Córdoba representatives has the opportunity to meet with various units and faculty, including Zoran Bursac, chair of Biostatistics; Dulce Suarze, assistant director of the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness; Piero Gardinali, professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education. Bursac and Gardinali will be collaborating with the Universidad de Córdoba on the design of the data management platform and the laboratory reference and quality control for the sample analysis.