e -Biosafety - A South-South Biosafety Training Network

Biotechnology is transforming the industry. It is an integral part of the knowledge-based economy and the main driver for the creation of new types of enterprises and the revitalisation of old industries.

Numerous new products are emerging from the use of modern biotechnology, such as:

  • Life-saving medicines and vaccines
  • Improved crops and new biofortified foods
  • Biofuels and high-added value chemicals
  • New products to replace fossil fuel derivatives as inputs for industry.

Biotechnology applications are also creating new opportunities in the process industries (e.g. food, paper and pulp, textiles and leather, mining) as well as in environmental clean up (bio- and phyto-remediation). For the developing world, biotechnology promises better health, food security as well as wealth creation through increased industrial productivity.

However, capturing the benefits of biotechnology ultimately depends not only on technological capacities but also on institutions that ensure that public and environmental health are not compromised by its application.

The abilities of developing countries to institute adequate safety systems and enforce regulation in biotechnology are vital elements in their efforts to exploit current and emerging biotechnology opportunities. It is widely recognised that the lack of expertise in regulation is a major bottleneck for these countries to reap the benefits of biotechnology at the research, industry and government level. The need to strengthen professional expertise in biosafety has thus become a priority of national and international efforts.

The UNIDO e-Biosafety training network is intended to meet this need. It addresses the demand of biosafety regulatory systems in developing countries for intensive training in biosafety. International experts with decades long experience in modern biotechnology have developed the curriculum in modular format drawing from best practices in distance education and instructional design.

The programme offers a unique combination of distance learning with on-campus training. While the core curriculum is the same for all network nodes, each node gives special emphasis on regional priorities and approaches to regulation.

The programme provides comprehensive information on:

  • current developments and future trends  in biotechnology
  • national and international norms and regulations in biotechnology

and develops advanced skills in:

  • biosafety assessment, risk management and  risk communication
  • managing biosafety regulatory systems
  • setting up and managing information resources relevant to biosafety
  • formulating and/or assessing applications for environmental releases of biotechnology-derived products

The programme targets professionals:

  • engaged in regulation at the government, industry and research level
  • involved in the implementation of the Cartagena Protocol and other international regulatory norms and conventions
  • involved in research

The structure of the UNIDO e-Biosafety Training Programme ensures that trainees from different backgrounds such as life sciences, social sciences, law or economics successfully acquire the skills necessary to gain proficiency in basic biotechnological knowledge, regulatory concepts and risk assessment procedures. The programme is delivered in modular form covering the entire range of disciplines related to biosafety. For each module, students engage in real time online tutorials and the preparation of specific training assignments. The modular character allows the material to be tailored to specific regional or national needs.

The UNIDO e-Biosafety Training network is unique in several respects:

  • It fosters South-South cooperation by pooling of resources of the network nodes;
  • It offers long-term (12 months) in-depth training in biotechnology, risk assessment and management;
  • It gives priority to training the trainers;
  • It provides academically accredited postgraduate specialisation at the Diploma or Master degree level;
  • It combines innovative distance learning multimedia with extensive on-campus tuition including laboratory practices;
  • It is taught by an international faculty of eminent scientists and biosafety professionals;
  • It is supervised by an International Advisory Board thus ensuring the integrity and high standards of the training material.

The programme is currently given in cooperation with the following universities:

  • Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
  • Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

UNIDO holds no responsibility for acceptance of applicants to the training courses or for the academic accreditation of student’s degrees. Those, as well as any study fees that may be charged, are subject to the academic regulations of the respective universities who host the training courses.