JAKARTA – Professor Pratiwi P. Sudarmono is one of the INA RESPOND’s Steering Committee (SC) members. She earned her medical degree in 1976 from the Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta.

She then received her PhD research course in Molecular Biology from Osaka University, Japan. After returning from Japan, she went to Johnson Space Center, USA where she underwent rigorous training and earned the Payload Specialist Astronaut certificate in 1985. Finally, in 1992 she attained recognition as a Clinical Microbiology Specialist. Currently, she is the Vice Dean of Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia (FKUI) and an active lecturer of the Department of Microbiology, FKUI. In February 2008 she was appointed as Honorary Professor of Microbiological Science in Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia.

Professor Pratiwi’s primary interest has been clinical microbiology, especially the emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. Over her 30 years of teaching Microbiology in FKUI, she has never stopped emphasizing to her students that infectious diseases will always be a part of their daily life as a medical doctor. Therefore, it is principal to understand the importance of clinical microbiology to assure patient’s and community’s surveillance through early detection and proper management, and to deliver prompt treatment and prevent further spread of the infectious disease. Furthermore, with the always budding infectious diseases, it is of highly importance to always develop research in clinical microbiology field.

As a Steering Committee member from Universitas Indonesia, Professor Pratiwi understands that the one of the roles of SC is to guard and to guide all INA-RESPOND programs in relation to the government’s (Ministry of Health) policies, educational and research institutions’ needs, as well as the researchers’ development. To fulfill this role, the network’s SC is comprised of researchers from various institutions such as NIHRD, universities, and hospitals. Developing international cooperation research is not easy.  Therefore, the SC also helps to align the vision and mission of INA-RESPOND in Indonesia, which is to help the development of health research, transfer of technology, and capacity building. All planned programs should be discussed and decided through the SC meeting.

According to Professor Pratiwi, so far, routine SC meetings have already been held in a good system, which include activities reporting and inputs sharing from the Ministry of Health and NIH. The difficulties we faced are more to non-academic constraint such as the agreement between Indonesia and US, which has not yet been completed. Non-technical factors like this decrease the speed of research development in Indonesia compared to that in some other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Therefore, a more intense dialogue and coordination meeting between the Indonesian Ministries to avoid misunderstanding about the relationship between Indonesia and US related to INA-RESPOND is needed. Diplomatic communication between the Foreign Minister and the Health Minister should clarify that the INA-respond is a mutual relationship and both countries should respect each other and open continuing communication. With this cooperation we can also initiate and develop our own programs according to our needs. For now, the benefit of the cooperation for the development of science has not been fully understood by all parties in Indonesia yet.

As a SC member, Professor Pratiwi hopes that cooperation agreement of science and technology between Indonesia and US will be completed soon. Also, she hopes that The Ministry of Health should be able to see INA-RESPOND not as a threat or obstacle but as an opportunity to develop research in many other health fields besides infectious disease. Through this network, we can learn much to develop our knowledge and capacity in research ethics, scientific writing, conducting good clinical trials, and creating or maintaining data management and reporting system. She also hopes that in the future Indonesia government will be able to contribute actively and equally as NIH to provide research facilities for INA-RESPOND programs.