VIENTIANE, LAO PDR — The United States continues to share knowledge and collaborate with young Lao scientists on important health challenges. On July 1, 2019, officials from the U.S. Embassy, Lao Ministry of Health, and the National University of Laos welcomed a group of 33 scientists from Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam to celebrate the launch of the Lower Mekong Initiative Young Scientists Program.
Hosted by the National University of Laos’ (NUOL) Faculty of Engineering, the event commemorated the second-annual field mission of the Lower Mekong Initiative Young Scientists program, a regional STEM development initiative funded by the United States and implemented by Arizona State University. The program aims to foster and promote scientific collaboration within the Lower Mekong Delta region, and to promote knowledge sharing on science and technology best practices and research ideas.
Throughout July, the Masters- and PhD-level science practitioners will work in Vientiane and sites around Laos to research and develop innovative solutions to vector-borne diseases like mosquito-transmitted malaria and dengue. The group of scientists have expertise in fields ranging from epidemiology to analytical chemistry and computer engineering. Of the 36 scientific experts, nine are from Laos.
In her remarks to the scientists, Lao PDR officials, and NUOL faculty, U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter stressed the importance of multinational cooperation to tackle some of the issues facing the region. “Climate change, infectious diseases and natural disasters do not recognize international borders. If we are to be able to respond to these shared challenges—which are not only regional, but also global—it is crucial for us all to work together,” said Ambassador Bitter.
The U.S. Department of State began funding the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) program in 2009 with the goal of strengthening the skills, relationships, and cooperation between the Lower Mekong countries—Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The Young Scientists program is one LMI initiative that supports young professionals by creating opportunities for collaboration, fostering scientific collaboration within the Lower Mekong Delta region, and promoting knowledge sharing on science and technology best practices and research ideas.