Biotechnology and Development


  • The UNU Programme for Biotechnology in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU-BIOLAC) used the Millennium Development Goals as a guideline for the overall design of this programme. Targeting specific areas of biotechnology that have been deemed valuable by institutions and organizations throughout Latin America, the programme trains young researchers on leading technologies with an emphasis on how students can benefit from this training upon return to their home countries. This programme consists of short training courses, fellowships, workshops, and activities aimed at building strong research networks. Some outputs include research reports, policies, manuals, handbooks, protocols, and other reference materials. These outputs will benefit participant students, as well as academics, and a general worldwide audience.

    Focal Points

    UNU-BIOLAC’s Coordinator and Advisors are responsible for the management and coordination of all activities.


    Since biotechnology is a continuously developing area, there is a need for UNU-BIOLAC to identify the best researchers in Latin America and the world, to monitor new experiences and emerging developments, and to present them to young Latin American researchers.


    Special effort is made to inform countries, institutes and young scientists about existing biotechnological resources, promoting technology transfer and capacity development. The UNU-BIOLAC coordinator and advisor scan the world’s latest developments in biotechnology and consider the impact of these advances on human health, the environment and industrial development. With this information, and scientific advisory committee recommendations, calls are made to course coordinators for training proposals in the areas identified. This information is continually updated via electronic communications, web page announcements and online scientific and social networks.


    UNU-BIOLAC takes into account gender balance when analyzing and approving proposals,  as well as when considering fellowship applications.

    Target Audience

    The targeted audience is mainly young researchers seeking expertise in biotechnology and new related technologies. Trainees are expected to act as multipliers of the information received, and should be able to transmit the acquired knowledge to colleagues upon return to their home countries.

    Intended Impact

    Impact: Capacity development in developed/developing countries
    Target: The target audience, for organizers of course proposals and participants, are young Latin American researches in the biotechnology area willing to apply the knowledge acquired once they return to their originating institutions. This will help to replicate and multiply the programme’s capacity building efforts.
    How: UNU-BIOLAC’s web page is becoming increasingly visible within the scientific community, even outside the Latin American region and is strengthening the social network community. UNU-BIOLAC team members visit universities and other research institutions of the region explaining the aims of UNU-BIOLAC and encouraging students and researchers to apply for activities.


    Open calls are launched to the public at least three months before each semester. Approved courses and workshops are posted on the UNU-BIOLAC web page and the information is sent to most universities and government academic agencies (such as CONICITs). The coordinator travels extensively in the region and presents the programme and its new initiatives through the two focal points in Uruguay and Costa Rica. Local committees disseminate the information to their respective areas of influence.

    Timeline/Programme Cycle

    Training and courses are continuously given. Every two years, the approach and orientation are updated and calls for proposals are made. Also every two years, a follow-up process checks the impact of each cohort.


    After activities are concluded, researchers and organizers submit a final academic and financial report together with the outputs of the activities. The coordinator ensures that the purposes of the activity are fulfilled by reviewing participant feedback provided via evaluation forms. The results are analyzed and used for quality assurance purposes. The general outcome of the evaluation is noted in a final report issued by the UNU-BIOLAC coordinator. Each research fellow is aksed to report to UNU-BIOLAC all scientific publications where the training received has been instrumental to the publication. For those continuing on degrees abroad, information is requested on how the training contributed to the continuation of their studies.


    The main challenge is to increase efforts to impact the host country’s development capacities. These efforts will continue by generating dissemination actions and by promoting activities locally. Biotechnology methods and instruments are expensive, and some countries are unable to continuously receive and publish updated information. Therefore, cooperation with well-equipped laboratories in the region is essential.

    Expected Duration

    The programme is expected to run for a duration of 24 months, from 1 January 2012 through 31 December 2013.

  • United Nations University
    Biotechnology Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean

    María del Valle Bello.

    Carretera Nacional Hoyo de la Puerta. Instituto de Estudios Avanzados IDEA.
    Edificio Bolívar.
    Piso 3.
    Oficina UNU-BIOLAC.
    Caracas, Estado Miranda, 1080.

    T: +58 (212) 9621120
    +58 (212) 9621644
    +58 (212) 9621605
    F: +58 (212) 96202223