The Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (MRFTT) was established in 1982 by Professor Courtenay Bartholomew, then Professor of Medicine of the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine Campus), as a Non-Governmental Organization to meet the need for local research in the Faculty of Medicine at the University, and additionally, to serve as the impetus for fostering the growth of medical research within the region.
In 2001, MRFTT’s internationally growing reputation led to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and UNAIDS, Geneva, asking MRFTT to participate in an international quest for an HIV/AIDS vaccine. This remarkable participation was successfully done and the MRFTT completed Phase 1 of the HVTN Clinical trials.
In 2002, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago negotiated a partnership with Professor Bartholomew when MRFTT was asked to be the lead clinical site for treatment and care services of HIV in Trinidad and Tobago, with external laboratory support from CAREC.
An electronic Medical Record system was be started in 2007, and the MRFTT would lead the way as the first public health unit in the country to completely transition their medical records system to a fully electronic medical record system.
The need soon arose for Resistance testing and without these facilities being locally available; Professor Bartholomew fostered partnerships with the Ponce Health Sciences University, Puerto Rico, to perform Resistance testing for MRFTT clients.
In 2017, Dr. Robert Jeffrey Edwards, a specialist doctor with a wealth of experience in HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), Dermatology and Public Health, and a longtime associate of the MRFTT, accepted the leadership role of Executive Clinical Advisor of the organization, upon Professor Bartholomew’s retirement.
Dr. Edwards has initiated many training and educational enhancement opportunities as he recognizes his staff as a valuable asset. To this end, the staff has engaged in many learning opportunities, notably the Key Populations Preceptorship programme, STI and dermatology updates, Psycho-social workshops and staff development training.