From the Director-General

This month Lawrence Banks writes from HQ Trieste, following the G20 Research and visits by the Ministers of Science of BrazilSouth Africa, and the President of TUBITAK, Turkey. He remarks on the successfully trialled novel diagnostic for COVID-19 tailored to low-resource settings and the Organisation’s expanding core programmes.

“As we begin to see light in the pandemic tunnel, ICGEB has been at the forefront of efforts to combat and reverse the effects of the pandemic. These range from practical applications of research in the field, aiding in the roll-out of novel and cheaper diagnostics, to expansion of collaborations among all our Member countries and the provision of enhanced training opportunities for young scientists from around the world.

In early August, ICGEB Trieste was honoured to host the Science Ministers of South Africa and Brazil and the President of TUBITAK, Turkey.  These meetings have been extremely productive; we are working closely together to further expand our collaborations and we look forward to being able to report on some exciting further developments in the coming months.

Later in the month, ICGEB was a very proud partner of the AfricaBio Convention which was held in Durban, South Africa. This is the premier gathering for promoting research, training and delivery of biotechnological products to Africa, and scientists from ICGEB Trieste, New Delhi and Cape Town were active contributors to sessions covering food security, Biotherapeutics, diagnostics and biofuels.

Expanding ICGEB’s core programmes has been one of my major priorities. I am delighted that we have established some wonderful partnerships to do this:

 – with the UN Office on South-South Cooperation to fund the Empower Programme with women Fellows destined for our laboratories in Cape Town and New Delhi;

– and with TWAS and the UN Tech Bank for LDCs for the PACTs Programme to provide fellowships specifically supporting young LDC scientists to access training opportunities within the ICGEB laboratories.

Providing technical assistance and support to combat the pandemic has been at the forefront of our priorities. We are therefore delighted with the successful outcome of the collaboration between ICGEB, NEB funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has successfully trialled a novel diagnostic for COVID19, specifically tailored to low-resource settings. In an amazing collaboration with colleagues in Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Nigeria, this study has been successfully completed and published, and an expanded phase 2 project has now begun, involving laboratories in Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, Rwanda, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

Through our programmes we continue to aim to address capacity building in all our Member States, and our scientific efforts extend to Afghanistan during this time of upheaval”.


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