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Developing countries are faced with an escalating epidemic of non-communicable diseases. There is an urgent need to build capacity in terms of health care resources to combat this epidemic. In this article we describe a project co-funded by the World Diabetes Foundation, the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine Colombo Sri Lanka, the Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Trust of Sri Lanka, and the charitable Sri Lanka Education Fund held in Trust at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, UK. This project has sought to improve capacity in a developing country through fostering research and educational partnerships. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons.