Dr. Samson Musonerimana, ICGEB Bacteriology lab, obtained his PhD at ICGEB Trieste, through the SISSA, on 4 June 2020 - first ICGEB Alumnus from Burundi, first PhD via videoconference. That's a lot of Firsts!

Lawrence Banks – Twelve months into his mandate

On the first anniversary of taking over as Director-General, Lawrence Banks take a moment to thank all for the amazing support and dedication shown during the last twelve months. “Despite the pandemic, there has been a major increase in the levels of communication and collaboration across our Organisation and our Member States.”

The last 12 months have  certainly been very eventful. We started with major efforts to more fully engage with our Host Country Governments and to also spread the word about ICGEB amongst our constituency. These efforts have been very successful and there have been major increases in the levels of communication between ICGEB and many of our Member States. Obviously, much still remains to be done in expanding the relevance of ICGEB for all of our constituency and this informs our daily activities.

Clearly, the events of the last six months have made some of these efforts more complex. ICGEB’s collective response to the pandemic has been wonderful, and many of our Members have expressed complete satisfaction with the levels of support we have been able to provide during this time. However, this situation, virtually unprecedented in our lifetimes – the last time humanity was in this position was in 1918 – will teach us all to focus on agility, flexibility, and safety.

One of the most gratifying developments in this last year has been the burgeoning collaborations amongst the Components‘ scientists, administration, and management, bringing together our respective skills and expertise, making the Organisation stronger and more efficient.

L-R: Natasa Skoko, Biotechnology Development at ICGEB, with Lawrence Banks, Director-General, in the Meeting Room, ICGEB HQ
Natasa Skoko, Biotechnology Development with Lawrence Banks, Director-General

The ICGEB held its first virtual meetings of the Council of Scientific Advisers (in April) and of the Board of Governors (in May). In other developments, scientists across the whole of ICGEB have risen to the challenges of the COVID crisis and we are seeing major rewards coming from our activities, both in terms of the provision of services and skills, and in the advancement of clinical trials and the development of novel diagnostics. The labs in New Delhi and Cape Town have been able to directly assist their local health authorities in increasing the rates of diagnosis.

The labs in Trieste and New Delhi are now almost fully back to normal and we are very hopeful that the same will also be true in Cape Town very soon.

I also very much hope that much of our core business of providing education, training and mobility will be able to resume fully as we move through July and August. So whilst COVID has impacted on many of us, I am delighted to see how much else has been achieved during this time; with work commencing on the refurbishment of the Biotechnology Development Unit, with the successful completion of several PhDs, the continuing top-class publications across the whole of ICGEB’s research activities, and the expansion of collaborations with various UN agencies and other International Organisations.

Link to the Director-General‘s page to follow him on mission and read his latest news.