News Releases

Bacterial paths in Trinidad hospitals: a public lecture

For Release Upon Receipt - June 11, 2015

St. Augustine

ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. June 11, 2015 – Bugs or germs don’t respect borders. Bacteria can cause serious health problems at the local, national and international level because of its relative ease of travel between humans – why is this? In his inaugural lecture as Professor at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Chief Patrick Akpaka will answer these questions and more.

Newly-appointed Professors of The UWI are encouraged to give Public Lectures to share their specific areas of research with the wider community. Professor Akpaka’s lecture titled "Microbes without borders, tracking the molecular epidemiology of germs" takes place June 18, 2015 from 5pm at the Amphitheatre A, Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex. According to Chief Akpaka, “Germs especially bacteria that are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics—are serious health problems at both local, national and international level. Drug resistance is definitely a global problem and there are several troubling examples when it comes to global drug resistance to bacteria”.

A native of Nigeria, Chief Akpaka joined The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine Campus as a Lecturer in 2005 in the Department of Para clinical Sciences. In 2011, he was promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer. His research works have focused on the molecular epidemiology of the germs such as TB, MRSA, multidrug resistant E. coli, Klebsiella and Pseudomonas. His work has aimed at delineating how these germs especially Staphylococcus aureus crosses borders to enter hospitals and even countries. Staphylococcus aureus or “staph" has long been recognized as one of the most important bacteria that cause disease in humans. It is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses (boils), furuncles, and cellulitis. Did a special strain of these organisms evolve in hospitals in Trinidad & Tobago? How do we track their activities, movements and infections in Trinidad & Tobago and beyond the region? Are the strains of germs we have here in the country clonally related to those from other countries? These are some of the questions his lecture will attempt to answer.

Professor Akpaka’s chosen area of specialization - Molecular epidemiology in Medical Microbiology, has emerged from the integration of molecular biology into traditional epidemiologic research. “This field improves our understanding of the disease processes by identifying specific organisms, pathways, molecules and genes that influence the risk of developing infectious diseases,” he said. He noted that when molecular techniques are applied to studies of disease, it results in enhanced measurement and increases our ability to more reliably detect associations.

The upcoming lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, contact The UWI St. Augustine’s Marketing and Communications Office at 662-2002 ext. 83726 or email



About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)