The Role of Biotechnology for African Development: The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and the International Context

The Role of Biotechnology for African Development: The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and the International Context 2016-11-09T17:40:37+00:00

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Chair: Prof Mauro Giacca, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Italy
Panellist: Dr Tanushri Kaul, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, India
Panellist: Prof Andre Pascal Kengne, South African Medical Research Council, Cameroon
Panellist: Prof Vasey Mwaja, National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, Kenya
Panellist: Dr Dennis Ndolo Obonyo, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, South Africa
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The role of biotechnology for African development through a unique, UN-based, international biotech research institute, with over 60 Member States, to ignite conversations with world experts in fundamental fields of biotechnology related to African development: agricultural biotechnology, the challenge of communicable and non-communicable diseases, nutritional improvement of crops, and the regulation of science and technology. How do advances in nutritional improvement of staple food crops have a major impact on the ability to feed growing populations? What are some practical examples of the way African experts are enabling regulatory environments for biotechnology that are both appropriate and internationally compliant? Why are NCDs an increasing major cause of morbidity and mortality in Africa? What steps is the ICGEB taking to combat NCDs? Why should these areas be a priority for research on the continent? ICGEB encourages attendance by policy makers, scientists, academics and students. The session aims to raise awareness and promote policies and behaviour compatible with sustainable development, disseminate scientific biotech knowledge and concepts, facilitate exchanges between scientists from various disciplines, bring people into touch with contemporary developments in research, stimulate collaboration, learning and understanding of major problems and the solutions being studied and implemented to tackle these.
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giaccaProf Mauro Giacca
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Italy
Chair

Mauro Giacca, MD PhD, is the Director-General of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), an international organization in the UN system, supported by over 60 Member States, for advanced research and education, with laboratories in Trieste, Italy, New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa. He is Full Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Trieste. His research interest focuses on the development of novel biotherapeutics for cardiovascular disorders, with particular reference to the identification of growth factors and microRNAs inducing cardiac regeneration after myocardial infarction. He also maintains a strong interest in the molecular biology of HIV-1 infection. He has published over 290 papers in peer-reviewed, international journals. He is also active in promoting scientific outreach for the general public. At its laboratories in Cape Town, the ICGEB runs research programmes at the forefront of international scientific excellence on topics of particular relevance to sub-Saharan Africa, in infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB), non-communicable diseases (cancer) and the
regulation of GM products.
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kaulDr Tanushri Kaul
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, India
Panellist

Molecular biologist and plant physiologist, Tanushri Kaul is Group Leader of the Nutritional Improvement of Crops Lab at ICGEB New Delhi, India. She served as Research Scientist in the Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Centre, Bet Dagan, Israel and collaborated in Indo-German, Indo-Israel and Indo-Belarus projects. PhD, University of Delhi, she is recipient of fellowships/awards from ICAR, CSIR-UGC, DBT-IISc, Indo-Israel Government, and Biocare. Her research and publications focus on validating loss or gain of function of novel genes that code for proteins with hypothetical roles and negative regulators of crop improvement (rice, wheat, maize) using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, such as nutritional value, yield, stress and efficient genome modification of target sites in major cereal and legume crops to confer resistance; designing transgenic tomatoes expressing microbial phytases and phytate-free cereals and legumes for alleviating global micronutrient malnutrition via gene deletor technology; enhancing shelf-life, antioxidants and reducing postharvest oxidative damage or losses, by efficient ROS scavenging during maturation and postharvest stages via over-expression of ascorbate-glutathione pathway genes. She pursues studies in rice chlorophyll mutants, gene expression in rice and Pennisetum, and works to decipher the underlying mechanism of DNA replication and homologous recombination, essential for genome stability.
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kengneProf Andre Pascal Kengne
South African Medical Research Council, Cameroon
Panellist

Professor Andre Pascal Kengne is a medical doctor and internist from the School of Medicine of Yaounde in Cameroon and holds a PhD in medicine from Sydney University, Australia. He is the current Director of South African Medical Research Council’s Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit, and holds a conjoint appointment as Associate Professor at the Department of Medicine of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His areas of research include chronic diseases epidemiology and prevention in developing countries, decision making in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. He is co-author of numerous, international peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and monographs on chronic diseases in Africa.
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mwajaProf Vasey Mwaja
National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, Kenya
Panellist

Vasey Mwaja, PhD, is Consultant and Professor of Crop Physiology and Biostatistics. PhD in Agricultural Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, he has spent over 30 years in agricultural research, training, extension, marketing and policy. He worked in agricultural extension with the government of Kenya before joining the university system in Kenya and the US. Visiting Scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he researched pesticide chemistry in industry and spent 15 years in research in pesticide chemistry, biotechnology and crop management, serving as a Senior Program Officer, Crop Management with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the US. He has published widely on weed science, horticulture, plant ecology, crop management, pesticide management and environmental chemistry. An active member of professional societies, he served as Director of Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, member of the National Council for Science and Technology and Chairman of the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI). Extensive reviewer of research projects and grants, he was recently admitted to membership of Kenya National Academy of Sciences (KNAS) and Fellowship of Royal Society of Biology (FRSB). He was elected to the Council of Scientific Advisors (CSA) of the ICGEB in 2015.
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obonyoDr Dennis Ndolo Obonyo
International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, South Africa
Panellist

Dennis Ndolo Obonyo, PhD in Entomology from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, is Programme Officer for Biosafety, based at the Cape Town Component of the ICGEB, where he co-manages a major biosafety capacity-enhancement project for selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The project is implemented in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its primary focus is to enhance the capacity of African regulators to ensure the full and balanced consideration of biosafety issues in the use of modern biotechnology in agriculture. The project supports the development of more effective approaches to regulation of products of modern biotechnology through relevant working experience, development and sharing of key regulatory approaches and tools and comprehensive training and education. Previously, he was based at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) Biotechnology Centre, and was involved with research programmes on Research and Development of genetically modified (GM) crops, including assessment of potential environmental impact. His earlier work at Dudutech (a leading Kenyan Integrated Pest Management company) saw him involved in developing sustainable IPM strategies for agricultural pest and disease control. He has conducted studies in agricultural entomology and biosafety and is co-author on multiple scientific publications.
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