Press Release

U.S. donated new equipment for healthcare and research facilities in Serbia

23 November 2022

Belgrade, 23 November 2022 – Today, U.S. Ambassador Christopher R. Hill and UNDP Resident Representative Yakup Beris officially handed over life-saving new medical analysis equipment to the Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering (IMGGE). This equipment will help the Institute to strengthen Serbia’s capacity to detect, treat and mitigate coronaviruses and other infections.

Photo: © UNDP Serbia / Momira Marković

The donation includes four devices for research and analysis of human and viral genomes and a digital PCR system for the precise measurement of viral particles in samples. It will enable accurate diagnostics and adequate treatment for patients with COVID-19 and other infections, early recognition of high-risk patients in need of hospital care, mapping of particularly susceptible individuals in the population based on genetic markers and faster development of new, innovative therapies and vaccines. The value of the donation is $605,000.

On the occasion of the handover of the donation today at IMGGE, Jelena Begović PhD, Minister of Science, Technological Development and Innovation, said: "With this initiative and donation, the United States has contributed to the strengthening of scientific and research capacities in Serbia, primarily for tackling the current pandemic, as well as to the empowerment of the Center for genome sequencing and bioinformatics within the Institute, which will have an impact on the improvement of diagnostics, treatment of other diseases and development of new technologies".

“There is no field more complex, challenging, and full of hope for the future as biotechnology”, said Ambassador Mr. Christopher R. Hill and added: “So many doors will open as a result of the research at this Institute in the future. These results will directly lead to longer and more healthy lives for all of us.”

The Director of IMGGE, Ivana Strahinić PhD, highlighted that the new equipment will primarily allow them to continue sequencing and comparative monitoring of mutations in the human genome and SARS-CoV-2 strains, which will enable the identification of high-risk patients and determination of adequate therapy. Dr Strahinić reminded that the Institute is an authorized institution for performing molecular diagnostics of rare diseases in Serbia, and added: "Until now, our capacity to perform a large number of molecular genetic analyses on a monthly basis was limited. The new equipment, procured within this initiative, will allow us to increase the number of analyses, but also to start introducing new ones that have so far been done only abroad. Additionally, the new equipment will significantly improve the level of molecular diagnostics and the introduction of personalized approach in the treatment of cancer, rare diseases, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, raising the standards of treatment to the highest level. Future research will be focused on genetic predispositions for tumor development, as well as on pharmacogenomic, epidemiological and population studies as a basis for designing new drugs. This will enable effective introduction of personalized therapy in Serbia and the region. The new equipment will also speed up the implementation of the ongoing project related to the sequencing of the first 1000 genomes of the population in the Balkans," added Dr Strahinić.

“This USAID donation enables research that gives us a glimpse into the potential of biotechnology, said Mr. Yakup Beris UNDP Serbia Resident Representative, adding: Benefits of using biotech in medicine, agriculture and tackling environmental degradation – are clear. This innovative approach integrating several disciplines - could help us simultaneously achieve multiple Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP in Serbia will continue to support the Government, academia and others - to develop bio-tech enabled solutions. In parallel we need to prepare adequate regulation, to ensure that these new technologies are developed, tested, and used for the benefit of the whole society, leaving no one behind”.

The donation of equipment for IMGGE is part of the $2.75 million "Together against COVID" project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of Serbia.

Photo: © Momira Marković / UNDP Serbia

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