Press Release

UNU Appoints Dr Gustavo Fermin as Programme Coordinator of UNU-BIOLAC

UNU is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Gustavo Fermin as the new Programme Coordinator of UNU-BIOLAC.

27 January 2023, Tokyo/Caracas — The United Nations University (UNU) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Gustavo Fermin as Programme Coordinator of the UNU Biotechnology Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU-BIOLAC), effective today. 

As Programme Coordinator, Dr Fermin will guide the focus, structure, administration, and partnerships of UNU-BIOLAC. He succeeds Dr Iván Galindo Castro. 

UNU-BIOLAC supports training and research at the intersection of science, technology, and society, demonstrating how modern biotechnology can promote sustainable socioeconomic development. The Programme is supported by the Government of Venezuela and is headquartered in Caracas. 

“I am delighted to welcome Gustavo to the UNU family as Programme Coordinator of UNU-BIOLAC”, said UNU Rector and UN Under-Secretary-General David M. Malone. “I am certain his extensive biotechnology experience, combined with his record of research partnerships and dedication to mentoring young researchers, will propel UNU-BIOLAC’s success in qualifying a new generation of biotechnology professionals focused on equitable and sustainable development.” 

"Biotechnology has a significant role to play as a safe companion of efforts to achieve sustainable development and human welfare", said Dr Fermin. "I am looking forward to the challenge of leading this UNU programme and to working with the UNU-BIOLAC team and partners as we support young researchers in their pursuit of biotechnology solutions."

Originally from Caracas, Dr Fermin is a Biologist from Universidad de Los Andes (ULA, Mérida, Venezuela). After graduating with an MS in Molecular Biology from ULA, he began his doctoral studies at Cornell University in Ithaca and Geneva, New York, where he completed a PhD in Plant Pathology.  

Dr Fermin’s research in New York, and later in Hawaii, focused on the creation and molecular characterization of transgenic plants resistant to viruses thanks to natural or synthetic transgenes. He returned to Venezuela and resumed his academic activities at ULA where he was in charge of undergraduate and graduate courses in Genetics, Genetic Engineering, Molecular Ecology and Bioethics, among others. 

Additionally, he has been a mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students with whom he has traveled throughout the country as part of his biodiversity research projects. This work has focused on studying viruses, bacteria, fungi, chromists, plants and animals of ecological, sanitary, conservation, and biotechnological importance. 

Dr Fermín has authored and co-authored over 100 publications, one of which is the book Viruses: Molecular Biology, Host Interactions and Applications to Biotechnology (Elsevier, 2018). 

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