Cuba invited to US conference


A notable face set foot on the US Food and Drug Administration waterfront campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico Thursday (May 13) morning. Diadelis Remírez, a molecular pharmacologist and genetics expert with Cuba's drug regulator, Centro Para El Control Estatal de la Calidad de Los Medicamentos, was an invited speaker at the 1st Latin American Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine Congress.

The congress, organized by the FDA and INDUNIV, a Puerto Rican non-profit research consortium made up of pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and academics, featured speakers from across Latin America discussing the challenges of working with their racially mixed populations. "It's important to have everyone here," said Ivan Lugo Montes, executive director of INDUNIV, which paid for Remírez's travel.

And Remírez, most everyone agreed, was a beam of sunshine, playing down the four hours she spent stuck in the Miami airport after she missed her plane because of a lengthy interrogation by immigration agents. At least, she made it. In 2009, US scientists tried to set up a pharmacogenomics workshop with her in Cuba, which has been praised for its recent advances in biotech, but were denied permission. "This is very important for me and my country so we can improve our drugs," she said. On Friday, she will be presenting her talk, "Pharmacogenetic studies: results and regulatory perspectives in Cuba."

"Public health is public health no matter where you are," said one FDA official who did not wish to be named.