Biotechnology for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean


The United Nations University Biotechnology Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU-BIOLAC) was officially established in 1988 thanks to an agreement signed between the Venezuelan Government and the United Nations University.

UNU-BIOLAC has, in the past, financially supported the training of young fellows in other laboratories of the region, and sometimes in Europe or Africa, through short 3-month internships — now with some doubled to six months. The Programme has also supported the organization of workshops, courses, etc., mainly involving researchers from the region. In both cases, the emphasis is the training of graduate students and young researchers from the region interested in delving into the many possibilities Biotechnology offers to impact social change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as envisioned and proposed by United Nations Member States.

Another programme aims to capacitate policymakers in the basics of Biotechnology as a field directly derived from the intersection of biological sciences with techniques and technologies developed by a diverse array of different disciplines.

The Programme also points to the necessary reflection and analysis of the ethics and pertinent use of Biotechnology to help achieve human well-being while preserving biodiversity. In this regard, the Programme is open to all forms and manifestations of modern Biotechnology– mainly when directly aimed at resolving a specific biological problem.


  • Fellowships for research and training of graduate students and other researchers
  • Advanced courses offered to a selected audience of professionals in Biotechnology
  • Webinars for the capacitation of policymakers on the basics of Biotechnology
  • Travel grants to help researchers make their work visible
  • Discussion groups on the ethical use of Biotechnology

To the end of 2023, UNU-BIOLAC has supported more than 403 researchers/fellows and has worked in partnership with various academic and research centres in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region through the development of more than 342 workshops, seminars, and conferences that have benefited thousands of professionals in the field of biotechnology in the region.


Currently, UNU-BIOLAC closely collaborates, among others, with the following institutions:

  • Fundación Instituto de Estudios Avanzados (IDEA), Venezuela
  • International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Italy
  • University of Granada, Spain
  • The Pasteur Institute, Uruguay
  • The University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago
  • Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico
  • Instituto de Biotecnología-UNAM, Mexico

Special interview with Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala, UNU Rector and UN Under-Secretary-General 


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