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A new centre for research into major infectious diseases is to open in the Vietnamese city of Ho Chi Minh next week.

The Infectious Diseases Research Unit will house 150 staff, who will investigate a range of diseases including malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, tuberculosis, meningitis and tetanus.

The initiative is a joint venture between the Vietnamese government — which paid US$1 million to construct the building — and the Wellcome Trust, Britain’s largest biomedical research charity, which has provided US$1.5 million for state-of-the-art equipment and has pledged to fund medical research at the centre until at least 2005.

"This building has been designed to provide a first class clinical and scientific resources suitable for the next few decades," says Jeremy Farrar, director of Wellcome's Infectious Diseases Research Unit. "I hope some of the many promising Vietnamese and international researchers who work [at the centre] will have the opportunity to become national and international leaders in their fields."

The centre, which will be opened on 20 September, stands in the grounds of the Centre for Tropical Diseases, Cho Quan Hospital in the Cholon District of the city.

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