ICGEB 29th Board session in Cape Town, South Africa

For two days the ICGEB Board of Governors that sustains the activities of the Centre, coordinated by the Director-General of the ICGEB, Dr. Lawrence Banks, met in Cape Town, South Africa.

The meeting took place in hybrid mode with over 100 participants representing more than 50 Member States of the ICGEB, together with representatives from other Multilateral Organisations, including The World Academy of Science TWAS, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization UNIDO, the World Health Organization WHO, and the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, distinguished guests and speakers.

Championing science diplomacy, the session was opened by Mr. Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of South Africa, Mr. Alessandro Garbellini, Office for Multilateral Scientific Cooperation and Intellectual Property, Directorate General for Country Promotion, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, and Dr. Alka Sharma, Advisor, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.

The Board comprises representatives from each Member State. Its main functions include determining the general policies and principles governing the activities of the Centre, admitting new Members, and approving the work programme and budget. Under discussion at this year’s session:

  • Highlights of the scientific research: divided into five macro-areas comprising Infectious Diseases (9 Groups), Non-Communicable Diseases (15 Groups), Medical Biotechnology (7 Groups), Industrial Biotechnology (5 Groups) – including work on biofuels, carbon capture and sustainable development, and Plant Biology and Biotechnology (10 Groups).
  • The newly appointed Director of ICGEB New Delhi, Dr. Ramesh Sonti, is working to reinvigorate work in agriculture as a major priority of the Indian Government, and for the benefit of South Africa.
  • Dr. Luiz Zerbini, Director of ICGEB Cape Town presents the multinational, young, vibrant research environment of the Centre, its many women scientists and currently funded projects. Research comprises Groups working in Biopesticides, Plant System Biology, Virology-Emerging Viruses, Cancer Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Cytokines and Disease. Collaborations within South Africa reflect continuing growth of the institute, with numerous agreements signed during 2022 with South African Universities, including Historically Disadvantaged Institutions, with significant funding provided by the South African Government, to build the quality of science, with an emphasis on training and capacity building. Four workshops were held in Cape Town in 2022 where ICGEB also contributes significantly to BIO Africa Conference, and in Outreach events.
  • Dr. Vittorio Venturi, Scientific Coordinator and Group Leader, Bacteriology, world leader in bacterial interspecies signalling in plant-associated microbiomes and the identification and development of plant bacterial probiotics, also works to strengthen the relationship between science and society and promote a dialogue approach to science dissemination in the field of nutrition and sustainable agriculture.
  • Rwanda is welcomed as the 68th Member State of the ICGEB and the 23rd African nation to join the Organisation. Recent full membership by the Dominican Republic is also announced.
  • Widely acclaimed, the programme for the creation of Regional Research Centres of the ICGEB across geographical regions included presentations by delegates from the Governments of Kenya, Brazil, Moldova and Turkey.
  • The ICGEB Fellowship Programmes continue to thrive with donor funding from the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, TWAS and the Host Governments.
  • Prof. Roger Beachy, Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, USA and current Chair of the ICGEB Council of Scientific Advisers reports on the findings of the Council from its meeting at ICGEB Trieste, Italy last month. In particular, important results of virtual training sessions with the WHO.
  • ICGEB has signed over 110 international biotechnology agreements for Technology Transfer.
  • The External Auditor, the Italian Court of Auditors, after nine-years of fruitful and very positive cooperation, will end its third term of service.