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2013 OCCASIONAL PAPER - Legacy of Science, Technology & Innovation in the Caribbean

Mr. Hawthorne Watson Acting Executive Director Scientific Research Council (SRC)

It is indeed a pleasure to be asked to deliver this paper at this prestigious conference. I am particularly pleased because some years ago I had the great privilege of being the Jamaican representative on a regional team operating out of the National Institute of Higher Education Research Science and Technology (NIHERST) in Trinidad working on an OAS-sponsored project to produce the first volume of “Caribbean Icons in Science and Technology” and the “Natural Wonders of the Caribbean.” I was amazed at the contributions of Caribbean Nationals to Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and since then have longed for a platform from which I could share with an audience such as the one here this afternoon.

Perhaps I should begin by stating that there are some standard indices for assessing the status of Science, Technology and Innovation in countries and included among these are the following: •

• • •

Gross Expenditure on Research & Development as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. Needless to say that Caribbean and indeed Latin American countries are way off track; 0.03% - 0.6% compared to greater than 2% in some developed countries. Innovation Index (T&T - 72, Jamaica. - 96, Sweden - 2, USA - 14, Singapore - 3, China 29). The numbers speak for themselves and do represent a not too flattering picture. Number of STI publications. Not enough is being done in this area but the signs are encouraging. Number of applications for patents. This is an area that paints another uncomfortable picture.

However while Caribbean states including the South American country of Guyana on the surface do not appear to distinguish themselves in any of the four, they nonetheless have made some very significant contributions in the field of STI. The contributions are even more significant when actual numbers and quality are stacked against geographic areas. Applications of the results are in fact not restricted to the region but have found use in outer space through electronics and devices on spacecrafts, as you would have heard last night, as well as on submarines in the depth of the oceans.

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2013 OCCASIONAL PAPER - Legacy of Science, Technology & Innovation in the Caribbean

For the purpose of this presentation I would like to limit the fields to: • • • • • •

Medicine Education Structural Engineering Chemistry Brewing and the Spirits Industry Animal Husbandry.

Medicine Cancer Treatment Dr. André Cipriani a Trinidadian Biophysicist is credited with being the first scientist with expertise in applying radiation to medicine. At the Chalk River Medical Laboratories in Canada, he and colleague W.V. Maynord were the first to discover that the isotope Cobalt60 (Co60) could be used to treat cancer and indeed were the first to isolate highly radioactive isotope. The National Research Universal Reactor at Chalk River where he worked is still the world’s largest single supplier of Co60 for cancer treatment. He was Canada’s representative on the first United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic radiation. It should also be noted that Cipriani is credited with discovery of the chemical compound from which the medication Gravol was developed. As is known by many, this medication is used for stomach ailments including but not limited to nausea and stomach cramps. This brilliant doctor died from brain haemorrhage at the tender age of 48 in 1956 and was then described by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as “the most knowledgeable expert on Radiation in the world;” an accolade which adequately reflected the high esteem to which this great son of the Caribbean was held. Paraplegics and Polio Sir John Golding, a naturalized Jamaican and Orthopaedic Surgeon, is known for the legacy of the Mona Rehabilitation Centre. Poliomyelitis is a very infectious viral inflammation of the spinal cord which usually results in temporary or permanent paralysis. It is not age selective but is particularly severe on the young. In 1954 in Jamaica, there was an outbreak which spread terror and trepidation throughout the land. While others mobilized finances John Golding brought his medical training to bear on the

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2013 OCCASIONAL PAPER - Legacy of Science, Technology & Innovation in the Caribbean

problem. Victims were housed at the Old Dramatic Centre at the University of the West Indies with quarantine at the Plumb Point Light House on the Port Royal Road. The Plumb Pointers, as the quarantined were designated, were later moved to a ward at Mona. This was the beginning of the Mona Rehabilitation Centre which has been renamed the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre. It was initially set up for polio victims but is now used primarily for accident victims particularly those with loss of use of limbs and reduced mobility. Patients receive counselling, as well as exercises in physiology, and where necessary, are fitted with a variety of devices to restore mobility. Legless Sarah Newland-Martin a Jamaican woman of fame became a champion swimmer. Other victims are teachers, professional craftsmen and technicians who have all learnt the art of surviving with their disabilities. Mouth Guard for Patients Dr. Glen Beneby, a Bahamian Anaesthetist tried to improve the practice of anaesthesiology in the Bahamas after studying medicine at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Sheffield in England. During surgery it is not uncommon for the upper teeth of some patient’s to get damaged through intubation. In 1989 Beneby invented a mouth guard to protect the upper teeth against such damage. Cannasol and Asmasol Albert Lockhart and Manley West two Jamaican doctors in pharmacology and optometry respectively sought to exploit the medicinal properties of the island’s rich biodiversity. In this regard it should be noted that of the approximate 164 medicinal plants said to exist worldwide, Jamaica is blessed with over 80, some of which are world famous for their flavor, potency and in some cases pungency. Ginger, Pimento, Cannabis and Blue Mountain Coffee are typical examples. In fact the Jamaican government is now moving aggressively to have Brand Blue Mountain Coffee given Geographical Indicator (GI) status. In the early 1970s a team of four scientists; Hawthorne Watson and Mr. Henry Lowe both of the then College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), now University of Technology (UTech), Dr. Manley West (UWI) and Dr. Albert Lockhart of private practice started investigating the possibility of using extracts from Jamaican ganja (Cannabis sativa) for medical purposes given popular folklore pointing in that direction.

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2013 OCCASIONAL PAPER - Legacy of Science, Technology & Innovation in the Caribbean

The results finalized by Lockhart and West were formulations of Cannasol for the treatment of glaucoma in the eye and Asmasol for the treatment of asthma.

Dengue Fever Dr. Arnoldo Ventura brought relief to, and calmed the fears of thousands of Jamaicans in the early 1960s; arising from an outbreak of the dreaded Dengue Fever. Dengue is a very debilitating and painful fever which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The first outbreak in Jamaica in 1962 caused panic among many. As alluded to above, relief came not from the medical fraternity but from one of the Caribbean’s renowned virologist in the person of Dr. Arnoldo Ventura who isolated the Dengue virus. He had previously conducted research into the history and behavior of viruses including those causing infections. Very importantly he developed basic tissue culture methods for the detection of viruses. It was this knowledge that was brought to bear in isolating the Dengue virus; literally under a self-made hood in his backyard. Once the virus was identified, effective treatment could be prescribed and expedited. Preventive methods were also facilitated. Education Distant Education Arthur Williams Snr. former Headmaster of Prattville Elementary School in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica and his wife can be credited with initiating Distant Education in Jamaica, in the 1950s. Obviously the medium at the time was not electronic. In those days Jamaican elementary schoolchildren had to face the dreaded Jamaica Local Examinations comprising eight subjects; all of which had to be passed at one sitting or otherwise the candidate would receive a failing grade for all. The Williams’ family used manual typewriters (I believe the models were Smith Corona and Olympia) to produce copies of syllabus contents of all eight subjects and circulated to students island wide through the post office; this in an effort to reduce trepidation and improve the chances of success. At a later date the production was facilitated by the Gestetner machine which used an inked cylindrical drum over which was fitted a special paper with perforations and carbon attached. The first set of machines was manual but later versions were electric, allowing for greater volumes.

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2013 OCCASIONAL PAPER - Legacy of Science, Technology & Innovation in the Caribbean

Professor Gerald Lalor renowned Jamaican scientist of UWI Mona Campus can be credited with the first real Distant Learning system in the Caribbean. As Pro Vice Chancellor of UWI in 1978 he initiated Project Satellite which introduced satellite communication in education and the public service to other Caribbean islands. He in fact became the First Director of UWI’s Distance Learning Programme. Since then there have been several developments and improvements including UWI Distance Education Centre (UWIDEC) or the Extramural Department, which later became the School of Continuing Studies. One initiative, the Challenge Examination Scheme (1977-1984), allowed students in noncampus territories to sit Part I of the degree courses without being on campus. In 1983 UWIDITE (UWI Distance Teaching Experiment) utilizing an audio teleconferencing system, supported by supplementary printed material was brought on stream. In 1996 there was a merging of all systems to form UWIDEC. In more recent times there are Open Access and Open Campus facilities. Structural Engineering Norris Sibbles of the Bahamas is an expert on how natural hazards such as extreme winds and water affect the integrity of very large buildings and other structures such as bridges. He holds the patent for the Damage Index Method (DIM) a well-known and widely used technique for estimating damage to structures. He was a member of the team at the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Centre which examined the wreckage of the World Trade Centre after the 911 attack. DIM also has been applied to the landmark San Francisco Bridge and the space shuttle fleet in USA as well as the Dang Sang Bridge in Korea. Chemistry Plastic Chemistry John Ewen of Monro College, Jamaica & UWI is a world–renowned plastics chemist who developed the “Ewen Symmetry Rules” for making plastics that would find wide and diverse applications in manufacturing and other fields. He used metallocenes (as catalyst) to revolutionize the plastic industry by controlling the polymerization process. In doing so he was able to develop plastics which are durable, heatproof, tear resistant and transparent. The new breed of plastics has found use as food

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2013 OCCASIONAL PAPER - Legacy of Science, Technology & Innovation in the Caribbean

wraps, bags for the storage of food produce, golf balls, and medical IV bags. Interestingly one of his inventions, the oxygen permeable bag, allows salads to remain crisp without refrigeration for extended periods. In 2002 he received the National Medal of Technology from President George Bush. This is the most prestigious award for technology in the USA. Centre of Excellence Professor Gerald Lalor founded the International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. The Centre focuses on Environmental Geochemistry which includes determination of the concentrations of elements in air, rock, soil and water. Data from the Centre have been used to determine suitable land for agricultural use, as well as to identify natural resources and environmental impacts on health and nutrition. A signature work of the Centre was the production of a Geochemical Map of Jamaica which identified some elements which were never thought to be present and others were present in dangerous concentrations. An outstanding piece of work was centred on residual lead (Pb) at Kintyre in the Papine area of St. Andrew. Investigations uncovered heavy concentrations of this poisonous heavy element in the area. Further investigations revealed that this resulted from a mine which had long been closed. Inconceivably a basic school was located in the actual building used years ago to process the lead and the playing field was the dump for the discharged toxic waste. Very disturbingly but perhaps not surprisingly it was found that the schoolchildren were dangerously poisoned! Remediation work was done with Lalor leading the way. Included was a diet rich in calcium and a general clean up of the area accompanied by a massive education programme. The whole scenario demonstrated how science and technology could be brought to bear on the solution of a community problem. Brewing and the Spirits Industry Jamaica and indeed the wider Caribbean have developed a few world famous beers, wines and spirits. Examples are Tia Maria a coffee liqueur, Red Stripe, one of the world’s great beers and a variety of rums. It is on the last mentioned category that I wish to focus. Mrs. Joy Spence has the distinction of being the world’s first female Master Blender - the pinnacle of the Blending Profession. She is the Master Blender of J. Wray and Nephew a Jamaican Company which is famous for its fine rums. To the long list of exquisite rums which SRC© 2013

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2013 OCCASIONAL PAPER - Legacy of Science, Technology & Innovation in the Caribbean

she helped to developed, she herself has added: Appleton Estate Exclusive, Appleton Estate 30year Jamaican Rum and Appleton Estate 250th Anniversary Rum. Animal Husbandry The Caribbean produced two world famous giants in animal husbandry. Dr. Stephen Bennett of Trinidad & Tobago developed a breed of cattle called the Bufalypso, with a thick skin, hard on the outside, and soft on the inside and therefore suitable for different types of leather. The animal is also resistant to parasites and is high milk producing. Cattle was exported to some 20 countries including USA, Venezuela, Argentina and Costa Rica. Thomas Lecky a Jamaican is perhaps the better known of the two. The significance of Lecky’s work is twofold: Firstly Lecky studied cattle from the frigid climate of Scotland. These breeds were high beef producing and high milk producing but could not withstand tropical heat, diseases and insects including ticks. On the other hand cattle in the tropics relished the heat and was not troubled by insects but was poor milk producing and poor beef producing. Lecky then sought to discover how he might combine the best of both breeds. Through artificial insemination and immaculate record keeping he was able to develop the: Jamaica Hope – a high milk producing cow Jamaica Red – a high beef producing cow Jamaica Black – excellent beef and suitable for the cooler areas of Jamaica. Secondly it is very important to note that a great part of Lecky’s legacy is how he revolutionized the cattle industry making it possible for small farmers to raise cattle on hilly slopes. Before his time cows in Jamaica were massive and suitable for the plains and could only be owned by large and rich land owners. Lecky changed all that by producing breeds that were small enough to be economically raised on hillsides by small farmers thereby raising the standards of living. This in fact was his dream! There are other very interesting innovations especially in aeronautics but more anon! Thank you.

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