Sprawled across thousands of square meters, the research laboratory at the International Centre for Genetics Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) is at the forefront of frontier research. The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, visited the facility in New Delhi today (12 October).

ICGEB is an inter-governmental organisation that operates in close contact with the United Nations (UN) Common System as a centre for excellence in research and training in biotechnology and genetic engineering, with special attention being given to the needs of the developing world.

It is a dedicated source of funding for outstanding projects in ICGEB member states, with the goal of promoting collaboration, training young scientists and developing research facilities. The programme provides support for research activities in basic life sciences, human healthcare, industrial and agricultural biotechnology and bioenergy.

In 2007 an ICGEB component was launched in Africa, which has helped to deal with Africa's infectious diseases burden, which kills thousands of people every day. The ICGEB has made an enormous contribution to the Institute for Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine and, in turn, the University of Cape Town.

In May this year, the ICGEB hosted their 22nd Governors' Meeting. In her address, Minister Pandor said, ʺBeing an ICGEB member has offered us new opportunities to further our National Biotechnology Strategy through participation in advanced ICGEB collaborative research programmes and comprehensive training schemes. In addition, we have been able to participate in a high-level intergovernmental forum where policy issues related to bio-safety and technology transfer are discussed."

The ICGEB has 25 research groups, working on inter alia malaria, tuberculosis and bioinformatics, synthetic biology and biofuels. The main research areas at the ICGEB New Delhi focus on mammalian and plant biology.

Biomedical projects are pursued in virology (hepatitis B and E viruses, human immunodeficiency virus and SARS virus), immunology (biology of the immune response and tuberculosis), the development of diagnostics and vaccine candidates for dengue viral infection, structural biology (the development of synthetic antibiotics, crystal structure determination of proteins and polypeptides), including malaria, both in basic research and vaccine and drug development, as well as the development of technologies for biopharmaceuticals and the diagnosis of infectious diseases.

Today Minister Pandor met with the facilityʹs Director, Dr Dinakar Salunke, scientists and other staff. Minister Pandor also participated in a tree-planting ceremony to symbolise the DST-ICGEB partnership.