- June 6, 2018
Dr Guna Muppuri (Entrepreneurship) is a physician who became an entrepreneur when he saw the need for affordable, effective pharmaceuticals in Jamaica, and set out to provide them through his company, Indies Pharma, which he set up in 2003. Today, he is the CEO of the multinational Bioprist Group of companies which owns a majority stake in Indies Pharma and has since branched into specific purpose-built real estate and industrial re-development which takes abandoned infrastructure and creates special economic opportunity zones.
A native of India, Dr Muppuri migrated to Jamaica in 1992 at the age of 21 as an intern at the University Hospital of the West Indies. As a young medical practitioner, he observed the difficulties of an average Jamaican citizen’s ability to afford prescription medications. The key driving factor for the transition was the cost of the prophylactic medication for stroke disorder which has been the leading cause of deaths in Jamaica since 1999. His determination to reduce the cost of prescription medication turned him as an entrepreneur.
The outcome of his initiative in 2007 reduced the monthly cost of the medication for the stroke disorder by almost 90% from J$8,250 to J$1,500. The medication was then made available under the National Health Fund benefits for J$350 for a month’s supply, compared to J$1,750 a month for the branded formulation. Under his able stewardship Indies Pharma has become a force to be reckoned with in the field of “branded generic pharmaceuticals”. With more than 450 drug dossier registrations in Jamaica, Muppuri’s quest to make medicines available and affordable has played a substantial role in providing several prescription drugs in 23 different therapeutic segments and many other over-the-counter generic pharmaceuticals in Jamaica.
Bioprist has branched into several other industries, the major one being “knowledge parks” where offshore services are provided by Jamaican nationals.
One of his major accomplishments was the re-purposing of the abandoned two Jockey (garment) factories in western Jamaica. Bioprist is also developing capital projects of over (US) $315 million in a 65-acre campus Grand Ridge Med City in Ironshore, Montego Bay to provide space for local and foreign academic medicine and healthcare institutions to set up “offshore” campuses.
The seamless growth objectives under the Grand Ridge Med City development incorporated the development of a 300 bed speciality private hospital enabling the Jamaican soil to open its door for medical and healthcare tourism.
Muppuri is also known for his philanthropic work. Most famously, his company undertook an out-of-court advocacy to make a generic hypertension drug Amlodipine available to Jamaicans by having its patent revoked in the best interest of the people of Jamaica. (Pfizer had the patent and manufactured the drug Amlodipine.) In 2020 he pledged J$ 1 million to help in the Covid fight in Jamaica. Indies Pharma also donates pharmaceuticals to the inner cities of Jamaica, through the Hope Clinic in Montego Bay, and since 2018 his company has provided 18 scholarships annually for students in the medical and pharmacy school in Jamaica. He has also initiated knowledge camps for children in Jamaica, which exposes them to science.
As a joint effort between Dr Muppuri and the Indian High Commission in Jamaica, Dr. Muppuri is advocating for the “whole viron inactivated vaccine” against the COVID-19 to be offered to Jamaican citizens. Currently, he is at the 9th mile of 10 miles in his advocacy to bring COVID-19 vaccine from India so that Jamaica shall achieve the herd immunity within the next six months.
Dr Muppuri has been honoured in Jamaica and in India. In India he was conferred with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award in India in 2019, the highest civilian honour conferred to the Indian Diaspora. It was given on the Indian Diaspora Day and in 2019, he was one of those 30 members globally who received the award from the Honourable President of India Mr. Ramnath Kovind. In his adopted country, he has been honoured by the American Chamber of Commerce in Jamaica with the Corporate Social Responsibility award in 2018, and with the Good Physician Award by the Medical Association of Jamaica in 2008.
Maria Nunes (Arts & Letters, Joint) is a Trinidad and Tobago photographer, filmmaker and producer who documents aspects of Caribbean cultural heritage. She is acclaimed for her work covering national festivals, traditional Carnival, steelband, calypso, and the performing arts. She first came to the nation’s attention in a completely different field, in the late 1970s, as a talented young golfer. She represented Trinidad and Tobago in the sport many times and in 1979, she won the Junior Golf World Championship in the 11-12 age group in San Diego, California. She subsequently worked as a history teacher, and her love of history eventually propelled her into the world of the “living history” around her, through the lens of her camera.
Ms Nunes’ entrance into recording the culture of Trinidad and Tobago began with photography of traditional Carnival. Her documentation of the stories of the Trinidad and Tobago cultural world quickly grew beyond the world of Moko Jumbies, Blue Devils and Black Indians to Ifa/Orisha practices, Rada ceremonies, Divali and Hosay. She has also worked on cultural projects in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince, Haiti and she has begun to document Carnival traditions in Grenada.
Ms. Nunes’ work also includes documentation of the traditions of the First Peoples of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as parang culture. Her interest in the arts draws inspiration from her love of music which includes collecting early calypso, string band and big band recordings of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as traditional folk and kalinda (stick-fighting) songs.
A founding Director of Calabash Foundation for the Arts, Ms Nunes was the producer of Jab Molassie, an original music-theatre which premiered in 2014. Her 2018 coffee-table book, In a World of Their Own: Carnival Dreamers and Makers, Photographs by Maria Nunes, published in Trinidad and Tobago by Robert and Christopher Publishers, received an Honourable Mention at the International Photography Awards, USA, in the category Professional: Book, Documentary.
Ms Nunes was photographer-in-residence for New Waves! Dance and Performance Institute from 2011–2014 and has been the resident photographer for the Noble Douglas Dance Company and Lilliput Children’s Theatre since 2013. She was official photographer in 2013 for the Trinidad and Tobago delegation to Carifesta in Suriname and the 9th China International Folk Arts Festival in Yichang and Beijing.
Most recently she has been working closely with Trinidadian jazz trumpeter and bandleader, Etienne Charles, to document the creation of two of his compositional works, the San Jose Suite and Carnival: Sound of a People. She has also travelled with him to Ghana, Togo and Benin in Africa to document his most recent research and also to explore connections with masking traditions in Trinidad.
For the immediate future, her plan is to extend her Carnival project to several other Caribbean territories including Cuba, Haiti and Dominica, and she intends a trans-Atlantic masking traditions project as well. She will also be expanding her longstanding work in documenting steelpan culture in Trinidad and Tobago and is committed to realising a digital photographic archive dedicated to cultural heritage to be housed at UWI, St Augustine.
Sean Sutherland (Arts & Letters, Joint) is a classical pianist from St. Vincent and the Grenadines who has had major successes on the world stage for his performances. In parallel, he has made significant contributions in the region as an engineer and educator. But his most significant accomplishments are in music.
Mr Sutherland’s pursuit of music was made conditional upon his academic success by his parents, so his life story has been one of dual achievement.
He topped primary and secondary school exams while excelling at the Associate Board of the Royal Schools of Music exams. In so doing, he earned a scholarship to study music at one of the Royal Schools in the UK before writing O-levels and winning the Island Scholarship in St. Vincent. He declined the British scholarship and entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US where he earned multiple degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science alongside a degree in Music.
He participated in the musical life of the institution, serving as an accompanist and playing in several ensembles, and was named an MIT Arts Scholar (1998-2000). He received the prestigious Weisner Prize from the institute for his significant service to the arts there. He was also active in Caribbean Club, a student organization for which he performed and trained students for cultural showcases and served as its president,
Mr Sutherland also maintains a deep interest in education and has managed to fuse his work and his art as a teacher, engineer, and entrepreneur. As a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine (2005-2008) he designed courses in Music Science and Acoustics, and mentored students in acoustic design. Following this, he pursued an MBA at McGill University in Canada (2009-2010).
Upon completion, he founded an educational consulting firm The Prep Area in Canada (2011-2016). He also earned a degree in Learning Design and Technology at Stanford University (2016-2017) where he was awarded a scholarship for private piano studies. His performances span the region and beyond. Some of his recitals include solo performances at the Steinway Halls in Plano and Forth Worth, Texas, USA (2018) and Gasteig in Munich, Germany (2017).
He has done collaborative performances with the National Sinfornia Orchestra of Trinidad (2009 and 2010) and the National Steel Symphony Orchestra in Trinidad (2011 and 2014), the Mountain View Los Altos Adult Orchestra (2017, 2018, and 2019), the Odin Quartet and Ébène in Toronto, Canada (2020), and the California Concerto Festival Orchestra (2020).
Mr Sutherland has also made his mark in major competitions: The Van Cliburn (semifinalist, 2016), the Chopin Competition in Poland (prize for the best waltz, 2018), the Piano Bridges Competition in Russia (finalist, 2019), and the Piano Lovers Over 40 competition in Italy (2nd place, 2019).
While he now lives in Canada, he remains involved in regional and local musical education and practice, an involvement that started during his formative years in his native St Vincent.
In his teen years, he was an accompanist for the New Kingstown Chorale, with whom he continues to have an ongoing collaboration, and founded the singing group Suede, the most famous member of which is Kevin Lyttle. In 2004-2005, he collaborated extensively with the Rhythmix Steel Orchestra.
He has also taught and tutored in music extensively in St. Vincent. Over the years, Mr Sutherland has performed either as a soloist or collaboratively in Bonaire, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, Turks & Caicos, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Cuba. He was an accompanist for the 100 Voice Project in Barbados (2013, 2014, & 2015). Most recently, he has collaborated with the Starlift Steel Orchestra (St. Vincent) and has performed at the Frank Collymore Hall (Barbados) and at the Peace Memorial Hall (St. Vincent).
Dr Floyd Morris (Public & Civic Contributions) is an advocate for disability rights, an academic who has published research on people with disabilities, a politician who has sponsored path-breaking legislation, and a champion for the rights of the disabled regionally. He is a graduate of the University of the West Indies Mona (UWI), where he attained his PhD in Government (2017). He is currently a Lecturer, a Political Communication Specialist, a Disability Advocate, Author, and Motivational Speaker.
Morris is also the first to accomplish many things in his home country where disability politics and rights are concerned. He is prominent not for the fact that he himself is a highly accomplished visually impaired person, but because what he has accomplished, especially for the rights of the disabled, would be exemplary for anyone.
He served as the Chairman for the Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB) from 2000 to 2001. Between 2002 and 2006, he led the negotiations for Jamaica at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and eventually signed and ratified the Convention in 2007, enabling Jamaica to be the first country in the world to do so.
His political career began when he was appointed a Senator by then Prime Minister PJ Patterson in 1998 (becoming its first visually impaired member) and afterwards appointed Minister of State in 2001. From 2001 to 2007, he served as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. In the period he worked with the Ministry, he anchored the implementation of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, led Jamaica’s negotiation on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, assisted in the development of the National Health Fund and in the development of the National Insurance health benefit (NI Gold). He drafted legislation to protect persons with disabilities and established the Margaret Moodie Scholarship Fund for persons with disabilities.
In 2004 he initiated The Kingston Accord – a compilation of resolutions from the Caribbean Ministerial Conference on Disability. The Accord was born out of a deep concern that despite the efforts of government bodies and other organizations, persons with disabilities were still encountering discrimination and many obstacles to the enjoyment of their fundamental human rights and freedoms. It sought to reaffirm that every Caribbean citizen has the same human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to recognize the importance of the United Nations Standard Rules for the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities as a framework for national and regional policies and programmes.
He returned to the Senate in 2012, and was appointed President of the Senate (2013-2016) during which time he sponsored and debated numerous pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening the rights of persons with disabilities and other human resource matters.
Morris has, to date, signed and approved over 100 pieces of legislation, including the Disabilities Act (2014). These sponsorships and legislative instalments to which he has contributed include:
He was also responsible for introducing Sign Language in the (broadcasts of sessions of) Houses of Parliament in Jamaica. In 2018 he was appointed the CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability, and has since continued to do extensive research on persons with disabilities in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
In November 2020, Morris was elected to the powerful United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is the Committee created under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to monitor its implementation in the over 180 countries that have signed and ratified this global treaty. Morris is the first person in the Caribbean to have been elected to this influential committee.
Morris is a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and is married to Mrs Shelley-Ann Gayle Morris. He was the host of a two-hour weekly radio broadcast “Seeing from a Different Perspective”, which focused on disability and societal issues. He has written an autobiography called, By Faith, Not By Sight-The Autobiography of Jamaica’s First Blind Senator. In 2020, Morris published his second book: Political Communication Strategies in Post Independence Jamaica 1972-2006.
Dr Ayanna Carla Phillips Savage (Science & Technology, Joint) is a veterinary surgeon, clinician and university lecturer who has made an invaluable contribution to aquatic animal health in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.
She has greatly expanded the scientific knowledge of aquatic species in the region and her work has provided the information for governments and environmental organisations to map policies that can benefit the region’s environment, aquatic life and its human populations, now and in the future. She is attached to the University of the West Indies (St Augustine) School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM). Her work in the little-explored field of Marine Mammal Medicine/Aquatic Animal Health has been key to addressing a critical gap in the field of veterinary medicine in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout much of the Caribbean region.
Dr Phillips Savage is the coordinator of the Aquatic Animal Health Unit and the Aquatic Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, which she designed and established. She is Trinidad and Tobago’s first and only aquatic veterinarian and the only facilitator for veterinary students choosing Aquatic Animal Practice.
She pioneered the treatment, management and research in the field of aquatic animal diseases in Trinidad and Tobago, thus providing a service that was not previously available locally. She is the first lecturer and clinician in Marine Mammal Medicine/Aquatic Animal Health at the SVM and was responsible for creating the school’s Aquatic Animal Medicine components of the veterinary curriculum, and for integrating this new aspect of veterinary medicine into the programme.
She also successfully spearheaded a five-year demonstration Greenhouse Hydroponics and Aquaponics project (2013-2018), which resulted in the creation of the first functional system of its kind at the UWI at the time. Since 2011 she has headed the Trinidad and Tobago Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TTMMSN). She coordinates the medical management, rehabilitation and release of endangered or protected sea turtles in Trinidad and Tobago.
She was also responsible for an internationally recognised effort in coordinating all interventions which led to the successful rescue, medical management, rehabilitation and release of the first reported stranded Loggerhead Sea Turtle, an endangered species, in Trinidad and Tobago in 2017.
Dr Phillips Savage spearheads educational initiatives for aquaculture industry stakeholders, colleagues, as well as the general public on issues regarding the aquatic ecosystem health and management. In 2014, she organised the first Regional One Health Workshop to be held at the UWI on “Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems”, which introduced the principles of Aquatic One Health (the connection between human, animal and environmental health) to regional aquaculture and fisheries stakeholders, with participants from Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the USA.
Her research projects have informed public health, fish and wildlife conservation guidelines implemented by state regulatory bodies and NGOs, including the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) and the Grande Riviere Nature Tour Guides Association (GRNTGA). Her knowledge and expertise have been recognised by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and she has been named to several international organisations. In 2018, she was honoured at UWI’s 70th Anniversary Celebrations with an award as one of the “70+ Outstanding UWI Women”. She continues to make valuable voluntary contributions to aquatic wildlife health management and conservation, championing the cause of preservation of the health and sustainability of Caribbean aquatic ecosystems.
Professor Rupika Delgoda (Science & Technology,, Joint) is the current Director of the Natural Products Institute (NPI) in the Faculty of Science and Technology at UWI, Mona. Her research examines the medicinal potential and safety profile of local biodiversity. She has had remarkable success in developing local scientific capacity, publications, and acclaim for her work.
Under her leadership and strategic direction the NPI grew from a concept to a full-fledged dedicated research institution with graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and full-time researchers. Her vision and assiduous work played an instrumental role in the establishment and expansion of NPI’s laboratory facilities and she has steered it to become a highly successful collaborative research entity dedicated to the development of natural products.
Over the course of her career, she has raised more than JMD$450 million in research funding. Prof Delgoda has been instrumental in fostering innovative strategic research partnerships with local and international private sector enterprises to expand the capacity and output of local biomedical research. The NPI is now fully engaged in Faculty activities and collaborates widely within the campus research communities and with over 12 leading international universities and research institutes in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa and beyond. Her own research spans the areas of biochemistry, pharmacology and pharmacognosy, with a focus on exploring and unveiling the biological potential of Jamaica’s natural resources. Her original contribution to the national and international body of scientific knowledge is in the areas of bioprospecting (assessing the efficacy of medicinal plants), evaluating ethno-medicines and avoiding potential drug-medicinal plant interactions (assessing the safety of medicinal plants).
Her research has brought to the fore the previously unknown value of natural products with impact on cancer cell viability and cancer prevention. She has contributed significantly to international scientific literature, with 52 peer-reviewed, highly cited publications, including 3 books, 11 book chapters and 38 journal articles and she has presented at 74 academic conferences with her work receiving 4 international awards.
Prof Delgoda was awarded the UWI Mona Principal’s award for excellence in research seven times over five consecutive years. These awards included the most outstanding researcher for the Faculty in 2015 and 2018, the most outstanding research publication in 2014, 2016 and 2017 and the project with greatest development impact in 2017 and 2018.
Prof. Delgoda is engaged in shaping national policy on natural health products and ethno-medicines. She serves as Deputy Chair of the Natural History Museum of Jamaica, member of the National Nutracuetical Committee, and as a trustee of the Jamaica Conservation Partners.