Biotechnology improving health

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Propuestas de los paises en vías de desarrollo para mejoras sanitarias usando la biotecnología

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Biotechnology improving health

  1. 1. BMC Public Health BioMed CentralCorrespondence Open AccessHow can developing countries harness biotechnology to improvehealth?Abdallah S Daar*1,2, Kathryn Berndtson1, Deepa L Persad1 andPeter A Singer1,3Address: 1The Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy of the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network |McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2Department of Public Health Sciences, University ofToronto, Ontario, Canada and 3Distinguished Investigator of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Department of Medicine at theUniversity of Toronto, Ontario, CanadaEmail: Abdallah S Daar* - a.daar@utoronto.ca; Kathryn Berndtson - kathryn.berndtson@utoronto.ca;Deepa L Persad - deepa.persad@utoronto.ca; Peter A Singer - peter.singer@utoronto.ca* Corresponding authorPublished: 3 December 2007 Received: 26 July 2007 Accepted: 3 December 2007BMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-346This article is available from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346© 2007 Daar et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0),which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Abstract Background: The benefits of genomics and biotechnology are concentrated primarily in the industrialized world, while their potential to combat neglected diseases in the developing world has been largely untapped. Without building developing world biotechnology capacity to address local health needs, this disparity will only intensify. To assess the potential of genomics to address health needs in the developing world, the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, along with local partners, organized five courses on Genomics and Public Health Policy in the developing world. The overall objective of the courses was to collectively explore how to best harness genomics to improve health in each region. This article presents and analyzes the recommendations from all five courses. Discussion: In this paper we analyze recommendations from 232 developing world experts from 58 countries who sought to answer how best to harness biotechnology to improve health in their regions. We divide their recommendations into four categories: science; finance; ethics, society and culture; and politics. Summary: The Courses recommendations can be summarized across the four categories listed above: Science: - Collaborate through national, regional, and international networks - Survey and build capacity based on proven models through education, training, and needs assessments Finance: - Develop regulatory and intellectual property frameworks for commercialization of biotechnology - Enhance funding and affordability of biotechnology - Improve the academic-industry interface and the role of small and medium enterprise Page 1 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)
  2. 2. BMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346 Ethics, Society, Culture: - Develop public engagement strategies to inform and educate the public about developments in genomics and biotechnology - Develop capacity to address ethical, social and cultural issues - Improve accessibility and equity Politics: - Strengthen understanding, leadership and support at the political level for biotechnology - Develop policies outlining national biotechnology strategy These recommendations provide guidance for all those interested in supporting science, technology, and innovation to improve health in the developing world. Applying these recommendations broadly across sectors and regions will empower developing countries themselves to harness the benefits of biotechnology and genomics for billions who have long been excluded.Background technology to improve health in their regions. WeGenomics and biotechnology hold great potential to fight definegenomics as the powerful new wave of health-diseases that disproportionately affect the worlds poorest related life sciences (biotechnologies) energized by thepeople. However, the benefits of biotechnology, driven by Human Genome Project and the knowledge and tools it ismarket incentives of the industrialized world, have spawning (including proteomics, transcriptomics, metab-accrued primarily to rich countries, with billions in the olomics, etc). Our operational definition encompassesdeveloping world largely excluded from these advances. the ethical, legal, social and cultural dimensions of devel-Developing nations are now taking steps to build long- oping the science and technologies and taking them toterm plans to benefit from biotechnology innovation [1]. where they were needed: from the lab to the village, as itIn Africa, the African Union Commission President devel- were. In this paper we use the terms biotechnology andoped a High-Level Panel on Modern Biotechnology to genomics interchangeably. We first explored ways to har-"generate a critical mass of technological expertise in tar- ness biotechnology to improve the health in the develop-geted areas that offer high growth potential" from bio- ing world in 2001, followed by a study that identified thetechnology and "harness biotechnology in order to top ten biotechnologies for improving health in develop-develop Africas rich biodiversity...improv [e] agricultural ing countries in 2002 [5,6]. Between 2002 and 2004, theproductivity and [develop] pharmaceutical products [2]." MRCGH planned, developed, and executed five ExecutiveIn January 2007, the African Ministerial Council on Sci- Courses on Genomics and Public Health Policy in fiveence and Technology received the Panel report and com- regions in the developing world. In this endeavor we col-mitted themselves to a "20 year African Biotechnology laborated with local experts and institutions to bringStrategy" to promote that vision. The Federation of Asian together 232 developing world experts and key stakehold-Biotech Associations offers another Southern-based exam- ers from multiple sectors to determine the best way to har-ple of "collaboration between industry and academia" ness genomics and health biotechnology to improve thethat seeks to "boost investment in biotechnology, interna- health of people in the developing world. Previous recom-tional trade in biotechnology products, and outsourcing mendations on how to bring the benefits of biotechnol-of services [3]." The need for developing countries to ogy to the poor have not focused on generating broadlydevelop and benefit from biotechnology is clear – as a dis- applicable guidelines for improving health, but rather oncussion paper from the World Banks recent Global Forum enhancing particular technologies, such as agriculturalon Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) states, there biotech [7,8] and nanotechnology [9], or providing actionis no longer a question of whether countries should build steps for particular nations [10] or stakeholders (e.g. civilscience and technology capacity that promotes biotech- society or research institutes) involved in promoting bio-nology innovation, "but what type of capacity to build, technology [11]. Moreover, rather than employing wide-given their economic constraints, and how best to imple- spread consultation with developing world experts to gen-ment these capacity building action plans [4]." erate recommendations, existing proposals have come from small-scale workshops without a developing worldDriven by a mission to harness the advances of innovative focus [12,13], forums emphasizing development astechnology for global health equity, the McLaughlin-Rot- opposed to health, or publications by lone developingman Centre for Global Health (MRC), formerly the Cana- world voices [9]. To our knowledge, never before has suchdian Program on Genomics and Global Health, sought to a large, multi-sectoral, Southern-based group of expertsask how developing countries can best harness health bio- been consulted on these issues. This paper offers a cross- Page 2 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)
  3. 3. BMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346comparison of their recommendations. The similitude of The 232 participants from 58 countries (see Figure 1) werethese independently generated recommendations sup- chosen based on contacts identified through our previousports their robustness as answers to the five courses over- work related to this area including recommendationsarching question: how can the developing world best from field experts leading to a subsequent snowball effect.harness genomics and biotechnology to improve health? Thorough in-depth literature review and internet-based searches were also conducted to select and validate ourDiscussion participant choices. The participants were carefullyExecutive Courses on Genomics and Public Policy selected to represent a wide range of interests relevant toThe Executive Courses on Genomics and Public Health biotechnology, with special consideration given to appro-Policy took place between 2002 and 2004 for experts in priately balancing geographical, gender and discipline/five regions of the developing world: Nairobi, Kenya with specialty distribution. The sectors represented included:the African Centre for Technology Studies for the Africancontinent; Kerala, India with Indian Council of Medical - government representatives, health ministry officials,Research for the Indian subcontinent; Muscat, Oman withthe World Health Organizations Regional Office for the - regulatory officials, legal experts,Eastern Mediterranean region (EMRO); Caracas, Vene-zuela with the United Nations Universitys Biotechnology - scientists from academic institutions and industry,for Latin America and the Caribbean (BIOLAC) and the including the director of a national institute of genomicsPan American Health Organization for Latin America and in the developing world, and a member of the researchthe Caribbean; and Hong Kong SAR China with the Uni- team that in 1997 cloned Dolly the sheep, the first animalversity of Hong Kong for the Western Pacific and South- ever cloned from an adult mammalian cell,east Asia region. - industry executives, biotechnology company representa- tives,Figure 1breakdown of participants in the Executive Courses on Genomics and Public Health PolicyRegionalRegional breakdown of participants in the Executive Courses on Genomics and Public Health Policy. Page 3 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)
  4. 4. BMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346- members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), 4. sharpening recommendation language; andand media. 5. attaining general or widespread agreement among par-The executive courses had three goals: ticipants.1. To familiarize the participants with the current status Participants received evaluation forms at the end of eachand implications of health genomics and biotechnology, course. The general consensus reflected success in terms ofand to provide information relevant to public policy-mak- achieving the goals and objectives of the Courses, with sat-ing in these fields. isfaction ratings by the participants ranging from 86%- 96%. The first three courses have been published individ-2. To provide frameworks for analyzing and debating the ually without a synthesis of the recommendations as apolicy issues and related ethical questions in health whole [14-16]. This paper, however, compares and ana-genomics and biotechnology, and to help people to lyzes recommendations from all five courses.understand, anticipate and influence the legal and regula-tory frameworks under which health biotechnology Recommendations from the Course Participantsindustries will operate, both nationally and internation- In each course, working groups were asked for advice onally. developing genomics/biotechnology in the region to improve public health as outlined above. One of the3. To begin developing a leaders network reaching across products from each course was a set of recommendationsdifferent sectors (including industry, academic, govern- on how best to harness biotechnology to address localment and NGOs) by sharing perspectives and building health needs within their region. The recommendationsrelationships. are intended for use by policy-makers, industry leaders, scientists, health care providers, NGOs, and funding agen-The courses, each lasting four, intensive, interactive days, cies. We applied these categories retrospectively to theconsisted of a series of presentations, primarily delivered Courses after developing them in consultation with devel-by local experts, and discussions led by stakeholders from oping world key informants in 2006. We compared anddifferent countries and sectors, allowing for the opportu- analyzed the Courses recommendations and synthesizednity to express different viewpoints They provided oppor- them into four categories as presented below: 1) science,tunities to share information about the research, ethics, 2) finance, 3) ethics, society, and culture, and 4) politics.social context, infrastructure, media relations, business These categories, while not completely mutually exclu-development, and regulations affecting the development sive, help to present the recommendations of the 5of biotechnology, and gave the participants background groups.information. However, the main question, how best toharness biotechnology to improve global health, and the Scienceregional recommendations were developed in small and Within the recommendations related to science, partici-large group discussions of the participants. Topics pants focused on the potential of inter-sectoral, regional,included scientific advances in biotechnology, innova- and international collaboration to build capacity, thetions in business models, public sector perspectives, eth- need for surveys of current capacity, and the importanceics, legal issues, and national innovation systems. This of looking to successful models elsewhere. Participantsinformation is critical for developing countries if they are specifically called for collaboration and capacity-buildingto absorb and control research information and public as methods to improve science education and establishpolicy issues affecting major technological breakthroughs regional and international networks – these networks pos-in the life sciences and public health. sess the much needed capacity to increase dialogue between biotechnology developers and end-users. IndiasParticipants drove the process of identifying and collect- lack of emphasis on regional collaboration is likely linkeding these recommendations. Participants constructed the to the fact that it was the only Course whose participantsrecommendations by: all came from one nation. Africa and Latin America, whose biotechnology capacities are comparatively less1. pre-drafting recommendations based on presentations; developed, both encouraged their regions to look to suc- cessful models of biotechnology innovation elsewhere2. deleting any recommendations which the group did ([17] see Table 1).not support; Finance3. adding missing recommendations; Key issues that arose regarding finance included regula- tory systems, intellectual property rights, and private sec- Page 4 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)
  5. 5. Page 5 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346 Table 1: Scientific Recommendations Africa India Eastern Mediterranean Latin America and the Caribbean Western Pacific/Southeast Asia -Establish a regional network to - Improve industry-academic - Provide coordination and - Conduct a study both to document - Seek development funds from foster sustained inter-sectoral interface with appropriate networking among national systems strengths in genomics and national, regional and dialogue incentives to improve public health biotechnology bodies and biotechnology and also to determine the international sources - Commission African capacity and the nations wealth coordinators to exchange information, needs which can be addressed by these - Perform foresight exercises, survey in genomics-related R&D - Establish an internet-based opinion expertise, and training disciplines including prioritization, needs to determine areas of strength leaders network to foster cross- - Regional cooperation in - Educate and prepare the necessary assessment and action plan - Undertake a detailed study of sectoral dialogue production and utilization of health human resources in genomics and - Facilitate linkages between R&D models with demonstrated biotechnology biotechnology government, academia, NGOs, civil success in the developing world - Coordinate a national survey/ - Seek help and advice from society, researchers, the health system - Establish seven regional research inventory/situation analysis/needs institutions in other countries in the and industry centres of excellence assessment of health region that have had a successful - Build capacity and share core biotechnology innovation systems, experience in this endeavor facilities including scientific and management -Develop mechanisms of regional - Develop joint training programs capacity, government policies, cooperation to harness genomics and - Identify existing genomics/ legislation and regulations, intellectual biotechnology for both health and biotechnology capacity including property policies, private sector economic development trained personnel, equipment, etc. in activity, and strengths/weaknesses, - Harness the potential of Latin all public and private sectors opportunities and threats America and the Caribbean in genomics - Build essential core research - Encourage academic institutions to and biotechnology to improve health for facilities linked to local needs include health biotechnology the population of the region - Develop training programs for topics within their curricula and - Build on existing networks so as to different personnel categories create specialized programs and avoid duplications and redundancies - Integrate genomics/ degrees where appropriate. There - Encourage the participation of biotechnology in curricula should be particular emphasis on ICT researchers, government officials, beginning at a primary level to and bioinformatics members of the private sector, members postgraduate levels of civil society, and any other relevant stakeholders - Address local health needs - Should not only pursue pure research but also applied problem solving investigation and product development - Facilitate learning - A strategy and a plan of action should be built at the regional level in order to promote the creation of international, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, andBMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 multi-institutional projects
  6. 6. BMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346tor collaboration. Participants stressed the need to harness Indian-Pakistani tensions, his presentation received athe power of biotechnology not only for health, but also "warm response" from Pakistani delegates that led notfor economic development. Several regions stressed the only to the bulk transfer of the hepatitis B vaccines fromneed to identify appropriate entry points for biotechnol- India to Pakistan, but also the technology transfer thatogy products and exploit domestic and regional markets facilitated their manufacture in Pakistan [19]. "Every[6]. Indias lack of emphasis on product entry may be due small cooperation matters," he said. "Science does notto the fact that its private sectors affordable pharmaceuti- have borders." Beyond this example of collaboration, thecals have already emerged competitively in domestic and EMRO Ministers of Health adopted the recommendationsglobal markets ([18] see Table 2). from that meeting and in the Latin America and Carib- bean region, the Pan American Health OrganizationEthics, Society and Culture (PAHO) followed up with discussions of the recommen-Courses commenting on ESC issues called for public dations from that event. The Courses have also stimulatedengagement programs that would inform and educate international academic exchange – both bringing partici-their populations on biotechnology developments. pants to Canadian institutions as well as funding graduateAnother common theme included the need for capacity to study abroad. Following the courses, both participantsaddress ethical issues including legal, social, and environ- and the MRCGH staff have played advisory roles for onemental concerns. Participants also underscored themes of another in subsequent research projects.accessibility and equity in terms of disseminating biotech-nology innovations (see Table 3). We recognize that the structure of the Courses limits the rigor of the processes which generated these recommen-Politics dations – although participants reached consensusPolitical recommendations from participants highlighted through discussion, there was no formal consensus proc-political leadership as a core factor in promoting biotech- ess. The Courses are rooted in opinions rather than eco-nology research and development in their regions. Many nomic or scientific analysis. Theoretically, had theparticipants stressed the need for national strategy and Courses involved a different set of participants, the resultspublic policy on genomics and biotechnology. African might have differed. However, compared to the alterna-participants recommended using the established New tive of conducting surveys with 232 respondents from 58Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) as an countries, we feel the courses generated a more sustainedentry point onto the continents political agenda. Several engagement with participants.regions also stressed the need for government support infunding and developing biotechnology (see Table 4). This study serves to offer a taxonomy of potential actions for harnessing biotechnology to improve health; however,Summary some countries are already attempting to deal with theAlthough the recommendations from the five courses dis- challenges listed above. Ongoing studies at our Centreplay nuances linked to regional differences in biotechnol- indicate that the Brazilian government has been trying toogy capacity and development, financial conditions, stimulate interactions between the public and private sec-political frameworks, and population needs, fundamental tor, specifically through the creation of an innovation lawlessons emerge from their insights. These lessons reinforce meant to facilitate interactions between academia andthe results of another study rooted in developing world industry – due to this intervention, more and more privateexpert insights that highlighted the same four key forces: companies are tapping into services within universities forscience; finance; ethics, society, and culture; and politics. research and product development. With regard to theThe similitude of the Courses recommendations, despite challenge of intellectual property management, a recenttheir independent generation in five different regions by report from Médecins sans Frontières calls for developingover 200 participants, affirms the robustness of our countries to look to the success of Brazil and Thailand inanswer to how genomics and biotechnology can best issuing compulsory licenses [20].serve the health of the worlds poorest people. Below is asummary of their recommendations based on those These recommendations will be useful to all those inter-groupings (see Table 5). ested in supporting science, technology, and innovation to improve health in the developing world – both forAlready, the courses have spurred development of bio- industrialized nations interested in supporting knowl-technology capacity in the developing world. Beyond the edge-based approaches to science and developing nationsgeneration of recommendations, the Courses produced a looking to foster biotechnology innovation. Across thenetwork for future collaboration. For example, an Indian sectors of academia, government, industry, and civil soci-participant invited to speak at the EMRO Course ety, scientists, policymakers, regulators, venture capitalexplained that although the Course occurred amidst Page 6 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)
  7. 7. Page 7 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346 Table 2: Financial Recommendations Africa India Eastern Mediterranean Latin America and the Caribbean Western Pacific/Southeast Asia - Create sustainable financing - Develop independent, - Coordinate a national survey/ - Develop mechanisms of regional - Identification of cheaper alternative mechanisms accountable, transparent inventory/situation analysis/needs cooperation to harness genomics and sources of energy regulatory systems [...] for a single assessment of health biotechnology biotechnology for both health and - Develop and harmonize regulatory entry, smart and effective system innovation systems, regulations, economic development. The policies including IP, biodiversity - Improve industry-academic intellectual property policies, networks should not only pursue pure management, biosafety, movement of interface with appropriate incentives private sector activity, and research but also applied problem solving genetic material, protection of to improve public health and the strengths/weaknesses, opportunities investigation and product indigenous knowledge nations wealth and threats development - Create innovative business models - Increase [government] funding for - Develop a proposal for a Regional - Facilitate the development of guidelines for economic and health care healthcare research with appropriate Genomics and Health Research on intellectual property, biosafety, development and to support research emphasis on genomics Fund emphasizing both peer-reviewed bioethics, regulation, and public - Identify appropriate entry points for research and capacity strengthening awareness genomics/biotechnology (e.g. various - The National Commission on - Adopt a strategic point of entry into forms of agriculture, genetic screening, Biotechnology, in collaboration with genomics and biotechnology. traditional medicine, bioinformatics, the relevant ministries, should Bioinformatics is one such potential point diagnostics for infectious diseases, etc) develop a plan to integrate of entry; others should be identified - Explore formation of public-private genetic and genomics products through foresight exercises conducted in partnerships to address regional and (including diagnostics, vaccines, the region national health needs therapies, and other genomic - Domestic small and medium priorities), within the health system and enterprises in the region should form public health programs strategic alliances and joint ventures, with special emphasis on bringing together organizations from different countries in the region Table 3: ESC Recommendations Africa India Eastern Mediterranean Latin America and the Caribbean Western Pacific/Southeast AsiaBMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 N/A - Engage the public and ensure - The National Commission on - The population of the countries in - Engage their publics in ways that broad-based input into policy setting Biotechnology should develop the region should be informed and inform, seek feedback and use the - Ensure equitable access of poor to programs of public awareness and educated about the developments in feedback to inform policy genomics products and services engagement. Important "publics" genomics and biotechnology, and in the - Increase capacity for research and - Develop independent, accountable, here include media and religious impact of these disciplines in addressing development on ethical, legal, transparent regulatory systems... based leaders as well as the public at large. local health needs environmental and social on ethics to ensure that ethical, The discussion should include ethical implications legal and social issues are issues addressed - The emphasis should be on accessibility and equity to improve the health of the poor
  8. 8. Table 4: Political Recommendations Page 8 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346 Africa India Eastern Mediterranean Latin America and the Caribbean Western Pacific/Southeast Asia - Identify champions among - Increase [government] funding for - Create National Commission on - Create, at the local and regional -Coordinate/undertake/conduct politicians healthcare research with appropriate Genomics, Biotechnology and Health, levels, a strategy to strengthen strategic planning aimed at achieving - Use the New Plan for African emphasis on genomics multisectoral membership include capacity in science, in technology, and sustainability of programs using Development (NEPAD) as entry youth, women, and civil society. The in management measurable benchmarks for desired point onto political agenda focus should include ethical issues -Establish a concrete genomics regional and national outcomes - Based on evidence from the national and biotechnology public policy, a - Encourage proactive government survey described above, governments strategy, and a plan of action to support of member states should develop and develop and use these disciplines to - Advocate for public and private adopt, at the highest level, a national address the countrys most pressing support biotechnology strategy health problems - Regional Director EMRO may be - Build strategy at the regional requested to address the level in order to promote the creation governments at the highest level of international, interdisciplinary, for actively considering the proposals multidisciplinary, and multi-institutional of this workshop and for giving priority projects attention to genomics for health and health biotechnology. The political leadership may be provided effective advocacy material, with special reference to its link with poverty alleviation, public health objectives, and need for transfer (and internalization) of technology Table 5: Summary Table of Recommendations from the Executive Courses on Genomics and Public Health Policy Recommendations to Harness Genomics for Health in Developing Countries SCIENCE • Collaborate through national, regional, and international networks • Survey and build capacity based on proven models through education, training, and needs assessments FINANCEBMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 • Develop regulatory and intellectual property frameworks for commercialization of biotechnology • Enhance funding and affordability of biotechnology • Improve the academic-industry interface and the role of small and medium enterprise ETHICS, SOCIETY, CULTURE • Develop public engagement strategies to inform and educate the public about developments in genomics and biotechnology • Develop capacity to address ethical, social and cultural issues • Improve accessibility and equity POLITICS • Strengthen understanding, leadership and support at the political level for biotechnology • Develop policies outlining national biotechnology strategy
  9. 9. BMC Public Health 2007, 7:346 http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346firms, industry representatives, and donor communities 10. Cohen JI: Harnessing Biotechnology for the Poor: challenges ahead for capacity, safety and public investment. Journal ofwill benefit from the applications of these insights. Human Development 2(2):239-263. 2001 Jul 1 11. Morris ML, Hoisington D: Bringing the benefits of biotechnol-Biotechnology can act both as a catalyst to foster overall ogy to the poor:the role of the CGIAR centers. In Agricultural Biotechnology in Developing Countries: Towards Optimizing the Benefits fordevelopment of science and technology as well as the the Poor Edited by: Qaim M, Krattiger AF, von Braun J. Boston, Kluwerdevelopment of practical solutions to local health needs. Academic Publishers; 2000:327-356.These recommendations align holistically and act as 12. Proceedings of The Way Forward to Strengthen National Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Capacity. Food and Agricul-forces that will affect the development and adoption of ture Organization of the UN. Headquarters, Agriculture Department,health biotechnology in the developing world [21]. Plant Production and Protection Division, Crop and Grassland Serv- ice. 2005 Feb 9–11Applying these recommendations broadly across sectors 13. Proceedings of the Biotechnology and Rural Livelihood –and regions will empower developing countries them- Enhancing the Benefits Conference. The Hague, the Nether-selves to harness the benefits of biotechnology and lands. International Service for National Agricultural Research Con- sultation. 2001 June 25–28genomics for billions who have long been excluded. 14. Smith AC, Mugabe J, Singer PA, Daar AS: Harnessing genomics to improve health in Africa – an executive course to support genomics policy. Bio-Med Central 2005, 3:2 [http://www.health-polCompeting interests icy-systems.com/content/3/1/2].The author(s) declare that they have no competing inter- 15. Acharya T, Kumar NK, Muthuswamy V, Daar AS, Singer PA: Har-ests. nessing genomics to improve health in India – an executive course to support genomics policy. Bio-Med Central 2004, 2:1 [http://www.health-policy-systems.com/content/2/1/1].Authors contributions 16. Acharya T, Abdur Rab M, Singer PA, Daar AS: Harnessing genom-ASD and PAS designed and participated in all of the ics to improve health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region - an executive course in genomics policy. BioMed Central 2005,courses in addition to participating in the writing of this 3:1 [http://www.health-policy-systems.com/content/3/1/1].paper. DLP led in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia 17. Thorsteinsdóttir H, Quach U, Daar AS, Singer PAS: Promoting Bio- technology Innovation in Developing Countries. Nature Bio-Course and did the initial analysis of the recommenda- technology 2004, 22:DC48-DC52.tions. KB analyzed the recommendations and drafted the 18. Kumar NK, Quach U, Thorsteinsdóttir H, Somsekhar H, Daar AS,paper. All authors read and approved the final manu- Singer PA: Indian biotechnology--rapidly evolving and industry led. Nat Biotechnol 22 Suppl():DC31-DC36.script. 19. India, Pakistan establish closer cooperation in Biotechnol- ogy. Pakistan Times, Business & Commerce Desk . 2004 Feb 29 20. Albano I, Padma TV: Learn from Brazil and Thai drug licenses,Acknowledgements say MSF. Sci Dev Net . 25 July 2007The authors would like to acknowledge our colleagues who led the individ- 21. Singer PA, Berndtson K, Tracy CS, Cohen ERM, Masum H, Daar AS:ual Courses: Tara Acharya, Nandini Kumar, Mohammed Abdur Rab, Fabio A Tough Transition. Nature 449:160-163.Salamanca-Buentello, Deepa L. Persad, Alyna Smith, and John Mugabe.Funding for the Executive Courses came from Genome Canada, through Pre-publication historythe Ontario Genomics Institute, Canadas International Development The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessedResearch Centre, and the Ontario Research Fund. In the case of the East- here:ern Mediterranean Region, partial funding came from the WHO EMROoffice. The Norwegian government provided some funding for the AfricanCourse. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/346/pre pubReferences1. Genomics and World Health. Report of the Advisory Committee on Health Research. Geneva 2002.2. New Partnership for Africas Development [http:// www.nepad.org/]. [cited 7 Mar 2007]3. Pan-Asian Biotech Federation Formed. Sci Dev net . 2005 Feb 23 [cited 2007 Feb 28]4. Global Forum: Building Science, Technology, and Innovation Capacity for Sustainable Growth and Poverty Reduction. Washington DC . 2007 February 13–15 Publish with Bio Med Central and every5. Singer PA, Daar AS: Harnessing Genomics and Biotechnology scientist can read your work free of charge to Improve Global Health Equity. Science 294(5540):87. 2001 Oct 5 "BioMed Central will be the most significant development for6. Daar AS, Martin DK, Nast S, Smith AC, Singer PA, Thorsteinsdóttir disseminating the results of biomedical researc h in our lifetime." H: Top 10 Biotechnologies for Improving Health in Develop- Sir Paul Nurse, Cancer Research UK ing Countries. Toronto: University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics; 2002. Your research papers will be:7. Byerlee D, Fischer K: Accessing modern science: policy and available free of charge to the entire biomedical community institutional options for agricultural biotechnology in devel- oping countries. World Bank Report, Washington, DC 2001. peer reviewed and published immediately upon acceptance8. Chrispeels MJ: Biotechnology and the poor. Plant Physiology 2000, cited in PubMed and archived on PubMed Central 124:3-6.9. Hassan MA: Nanotechnology. Small Things and Big Changes yours — you keep the copyright in the Developing World. Science 309(5731):65. 2005 Jul 1 Submit your manuscript here: BioMedcentral http://www.biomedcentral.com/info/publishing_adv.asp Page 9 of 9 (page number not for citation purposes)

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