Capacity Building for Natural Products Research in Malaysia

Partnership objectives

  1. Building scientific capacity in natural products research in Malaysia to contribute to the governmental objectives.
  2. Fostering the establishment of a scientific expertise group in natural products research.
  3. Developing a platform for scientific exchange.
  4. Promoting innovative funding mechanisms to encourage R&D in the absence of market incentives.

The internship provides researchers access to laboratory facilities to learn specific lab techniques and enhance knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry and environment. The internship provides researchers access to laboratory facilities to learn specific lab techniques and enhance knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry and environment. Copyright Novartis

What are the health needs and challenges?

Bacterial diversity in different habitats is an important source for new natural substances to derive new treatments for diseases. Microorganisms are an important source for  pharmacologically active substances as eg. antibiotics, but natural products microbiology can lead also to the identification of novel chemical substance classes. Local scientific capabilities in biodiversity-rich countries such as Malaysia can be developed and optimized.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

The partnership focuses on education and capacity building, aiming to enhance scientific capabilities in Malaysia, particularly in natural products research.

Working with the Sarawak Biodiversity Center, the program offers internships at Novartis for young Malaysian microbiologists and natural product chemists. This helps building the local expertise in soil microbiology and in the description of the bacterial diversity in different habitats. Through this education and expertise transfer a platform for scientific exchange and r the establishment of a scientific expertise group in natural products microbiology has been developed.

Lessons learned                            

To achieve its goals, the partnership initiates a variety of seminars on industrial natural products research in Malaysia, which are open to other academic institutions. This provides a broader diffusion of knowledge. A further goal of the program is to promote innovative funding mechanisms to encourage R&D in the absence of market incentives.

Summary of impact and forward looking information

As presented at the BioMalaysia 2013 Conference by scientists from the Malaysian partner institute and by Novartis, the local research group conducts the isolation of broad variety of rare soil bacteria. It applies novel isolation and analytics methods to describe new substances from the accessed pool of microbes. The substances are investigated in research programs at the partner institute.     

Partnership information

Company(ies) Novartis

Partner(s) Sarawak Biodiversity Center

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals

Therapeutic Focus Other

Disease(s) General Health

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Technology Transfer - Scientific Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing, Health System Infrastructure - Training

Targeted Population(s) Health professionals, Men, Women

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific

Number of Countries 1

Country(ies) Malaysia

Start Date 2011

More information Sarawak Biodiversity Centre

Anticipated completion date 2014

« The Sarawak Biodiversity Centre partnership with Novartis has been very useful in terms of technology transfer and helping a young institute develop the research capacity towards mainstream discoveries. »

Charlie Yeo PhD, Chief Scientist, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre