You are What You Study
Ahmed A. Azad examines the corelation between university education and development
Imperatives for sustainable development:
The newly elected government's manifesto includes the realisation of Vision 2021 and the technology to implement it (Digital Bangladesh), envisages Bangladesh as a middle-income technology-savvy country by 2021. Although this is a much needed change in paradigm shift, it will require sustained effort and a long-term plan involving strategic investment in education and technology. For this to happen, there has to be unwavering commitment by the present and successive governments to elevate the present levels of higher education and scientific proficiency to contemporary international standards.
There is a positive correlation between the levels of scientific proficiency and economic development of a country and that is why the developed countries of the West are also the most scientifically and technologically advanced. Wealth alone does not guarantee a knowledge-based technology-driven economy; in the absence of an indigenous pool of scientists and technicians, the oil-rich countries of the Middle East have to depend on imported equipment, technology and expertise. Scientific proficiency, in turn, is critically dependent on the quality of higher education and scientific capacity. It is no coincidence that the best research universities in the world are located in the most advanced countries. Bangladesh is not only a scientifically-deficient LDC but it also has very little natural resources that can be traded for cash. Thus, if Bangladesh seriously aspires to the status of a middle income country, it needs to drastically improve the quality of its higher education and scientific proficiency through rapid capacity building in the academic and Science and Technology (S&T) sectors and effective collaboration between academia, government and the private sector.
II. Current state of higher education and scientific proficiency in bangladesh:
Recently some newspapers in Dhaka reported that Dhaka University, the premier seat of higher learning, was ranked at number 4922 in the world. While the relevance and usefulness of such rankings for an LDC is questionable, this does point to the pitiable state of higher education in Bangladesh. We thus need to urgently focus on certain core areas such as commitment to scholarship and research, laboratory and workshop facilities, development and utilisation of intellectual property (patents) and technology transfer to local industry.
It goes without saying that a very strong primary and secondary education system is the foundation for an internationally competitive higher education system. Developing such a system and making it accessible to all is perhaps the most important and difficult task facing the Government of Bangladesh (GoB). Fortunately, the present government seems to have realised the importance of this issue since the Ministry of Education has been given the highest allocation in the recent budget, an additional State Minister has been appointed specifically to overhaul the primary education sector and secondary education is being modernised with special emphasis on science and technology. However, this alone will not automatically result in an internationally competitive higher education system relevant to our needs.
While access to higher education is a fundamental right of every citizen there is a need to seriously assess whether every student who passes HSC needs to be provided a place in tertiary education since many students would be better-off in vocational training centres which offer courses in specific trade-related subjects. The pressure for admission has led to a mushrooming growth of public and private universities, the majority of which are woefully inadequate in terms of both academic excellence and physical infrastructure. In the heavily subsidised public universities and colleges, an overwhelming number of students graduate with degrees in social sciences and humanities and often end up in jobs totally unrelated to their majors. Bangladesh can ill-afford this drain on scarce resources which could have been much better utilised to promote education in fields more relevant to our development needs. A major development objective of the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission (UGC) should be to produce larger numbers of good teachers for the primary and secondary schools, especially in science and mathematics since this is an essential prerequisite for achieving a qualitative change in higher education. However, it will not be possible to attract the best brains into teacher training courses unless the teachers' remunerations are substantially enhanced.
In a country that has an acute shortage of trained manpower in various industries and services, a concerted effort needs to be made to convince students and their guardians that a general university degree is not necessarily the best or the only option and that, in many instances, their interest and that of the country would be better served through vocational training in specific trade-related subjects. Technical colleges and vocational training centres could be set up within existing educational institutions in partnership with different industry sectors. The lessening of pressure for places would allow existing tertiary institutions to consolidate their resources and improve their quality.
In a previous article (The Daily Star April 2, 2009), I had summarised the factors that ail our universities:
There are a multitude of factors that affect teaching and research in our universities. Research productivity and innovation are not considered important for personal advancement of teachers. Senior academics find little time for research and supervision of research students. There is very little research funding from the government and almost none from industry.
Major equipment is mostly unavailable and libraries are severely under resourced. Competitive research grants and pre-doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships are not available. The culture of multidisciplinary research, innovation and development of intellectual property has not taken root. Our public universities cannot become internationally competitive unless the above deficiencies are rectified.
Some of the above problems can be tackled by the University Grants Commission (UGC), but post-graduate research, especially in the natural science and technology areas and improvement of scientific proficiency will need measures outside the scope of the UGC. In a poor and resource-strapped country like Bangladesh, the bulk of post-graduate research needs to be geared to national development objectives so that the research applications are translated into products and processes that benefit the people. For this to happen there has to be a new way of thinking and doing things, especially in the area of intellectual property and technology transfer, and a symbiotic relationship between academia, government and industry has to be developed.
Lastly, I would like to highlight a very serious problem which needs to be addressed with sincerity and commitment at the highest political level. This is the politicisation of both the student bodies and faculties of our public universities and colleges. Without resolving this issue, it will be impossible to achieve a qualitative change in our higher education.
III. Changing the culture of higher education and scientific research:
1. Focus on national development priorities:
While academic freedom and the ability to carry out "blue sky" research are important, our academics and scientists need to realise that, in a poor country like Bangladesh, result-oriented research in areas of priority needs to take precedence. Also research funds and capacity are limited and if these are spread too thin, there is likely to be little progress on any front. A case in point is GoB's Biotechnology Policy (2006) which lists over 100 priorities when we are realistically capable of properly tackling only about six at a time.
The government with the help of academia and industry need to prepare a list of national development priorities and opportunities that can be met through maximum mobilisation of available scientific and technological resources and funds. Since such collaboration is presently absent, at least to my knowledge, I would suggest the following:
-Production of high-yielding food and cash crops resistant to infections, pests, drought, salinity and water logging
-Development of alternative sources of energy including bio-energy
-Development of essential and affordable drugs and vaccines
-Protection of the environment and countering the effects of climate change
The achievement of the above objectives will require the deployment of the best available scientific know-how and contemporary technologies such as ICT and biotechnology, an adequate and suitably trained workforce and adequate funding from the government and the private sector.
2. Organisation, coordination and collaboration:
Although science and technology are essential for achieving development objectives, there is hardly any scientific representation in policy making bodies which are dominated by economists, bureaucrats and businessmen. Other than ICT professionals, no other group of scientists or technologists, including their apex body the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences (BAS), has succeeded in effectively getting their voices heard. It is essential for scientists to get organised if they wish their views to be taken seriously. Perhaps BAS could take a leading role and learn from the experiences of their colleagues in the economic and business organisations. Policy-makers will not be very successful if they rely solely on economic and social considerations and neglect to incorporate the expert views of local scientists and technologists in policy formulation.
No single academic or government research centre in Bangladesh has the full range of expertise or facilities in any scientific discipline to be able to effectively undertake any of the above development initiatives single-handedly. Therefore, there needs to be countrywide multi-institutional collaboration between academics and scientists working on the same project. The research groups also need to have a very strong and mutually supportive relationship with allied industry as development projects need technology transfer from research centres to industry. There is a need for more coordination and cooperation within and between different government agencies and ministries. The government also needs to involve industry/private sector in the implementation of development projects. In the case of science and technology driven projects, an expanded and modified version of the GoB's Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative could be implemented to include academia, research centres, various government departments and industry/private sector with flexible funding mechanisms.
3. Development of critical mass of appropriate expertise and manpower:
Contrary to common perception, there are quite a few highly trained scientists in Bangladesh but unfortunately they are dispersed all over the country and many often work in isolation and without proper equipment and resources; ways have to be devised so that they have the opportunity to work together through collaborative projects. Additional high-level expertise can be accessed through formation of a panel of NRB specialists who could provide expert advice to the government in their respective areas of specialisation and also help in developing indigenous capacity. This would be more effective and much cheaper than hiring foreign consultants. In many cases NRB experts would be happy to provide their services pro bono if the demand on their time is not excessive. In any case, commitment to national interests and a deep understanding of the local conditions should be important considerations in the selection of experts and consultants.
The main obstacle to productive research in Bangladeshi universities has been the severe dearth of full time researchers as most academics (with some notable exceptions) are at best able to only dabble in research because of other preoccupations and are often not able to provide adequate supervision to their graduate students. This is reflected in the less than impressive publication record compared to that of other developing countries. One way to create full time research positions in Bangladeshi universities is to institute PhD programs and post-doctoral fellowships (PDF) and to appoint full-time Research Associates and Research Professors to supervise research students. Some of the well established and internationally competitive research centres such as ICDDR,B and BIRDEM could provide post-graduate training in biomedical subjects in collaboration with university departments.
Advanced training should be encouraged in rapidly advancing developing countries such as India, rather than in the advanced countries of the West, as the training received there, especially in areas of common interest, would be more appropriate. Whenever possible, students should be sent on "sandwich" PhD programs where they start their research in Bangladesh and go to a foreign university to access advanced expertise and facilities. Training in advanced countries of the West would be particularly useful in laboratories involved in green technology research such as the development of cheaper and more efficient photovoltaic cells (solar energy), discovery and development of novel enzymes involved in converting biomass into ethanol (bio-fuels), and in clean coal technologies such as underground coal liquefaction and carbon emissions capture.
While it is very important to develop a scientifically trained workforce in Bangladesh, it will be futile if the trained graduates do not find employment in Bangladesh. To avoid frustration and to stem the brain drain the curricula need to be revised so that the training is more appropriate for employment in local industries. Students and young researchers in the biomedical sciences have strongly suggested that their curriculum should have greater emphasis on subjects related to different aspects of technology transfer and their training should include compulsory apprenticeship in industry.
4. Capacity development in essential equipment and appropriate technology:
Effective implementation of the major national priority initiatives that are technology-driven requires focus on and consolidation of a small number of projects which have access to all contemporary technologies, essential equipment and trained operators. In the case of modern biotechnology (molecular biosciences), we probably do not yet have resident expertise, but this can be accessed through NRB scientists. Increasing numbers of young Bangladeshi scientists are obtaining training in these cutting edge technologies. In order to induce them to return home, we must create a congenial environment by establishing world-class facilities and providing adequate remuneration.
The range of required major equipment is largely available in Bangladesh but they are scattered all over the country and often located in places where there is a lack of critical mass of researchers capable of using them. Such equipment need to be concentrated into central facilities within or close to academic research centres in different regions of the country so that these become regional technology hubs which can be accessed by all interested researchers and students. The operation and use of many of the modern and expensive equipment is economically viable only if they are used round the clock and regularly maintained by qualified engineers. This will be possible in centralised major equipment facilities which, in some cases, could be shared with industry partners.
There are other specialised research and technology transfer facilities which, because of high cost and security considerations need to be established as national core facilities. Examples of these would be a modern and properly contained animal research facility for research involving infectious agents, transgenic animals etc., high level containment facility for genetically modified crops and a centre for drug design and synthesis. The government itself could set up a multidisciplinary national resource centre for technology transfer that would have experts in regulatory and safety issues, patent law, bioethics, and commercialisation of research. Some of these core facilities could be developed as regional centres shared by a number of neighbouring countries.
5. Funding for R&D and technology transfer:
Government funding for R&D in Bangladesh is miniscule compared to other countries such as India, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey and even Pakistan. In the recent budget, the government has made very substantial allocations for new research in ICT and its applications but has ignored other technologies. The government does provide substantial support to government science laboratories but it is almost exclusively for salary and overhead expenses and whatever is available for research is spread too thin. Government laboratories need more funding for strategic research that result in products and processes that can be transferred to industry and the farm sector.
In order to tackle the paucity of full-time researchers like PhD students and PDFs, the government, together with the private sector, has to create training and research fellowships mainly within research groups (academia, government or industry) involved in research in high priority areas.
In order for Bangladesh to become internationally competitive in research, a peer-reviewed competitive research grant scheme needs to be instituted without delay. The government, together with the private sector, should also provide strategic funding for multi-institutional and multidisciplinary collaborative research initiatives in areas of national priority. A condition for such major research grants should be compulsory collaboration between academic research groups, government research centres and industry.
A number of industry sectors in Bangladesh such as pharma-ceuticals and seed/tissue culture, have already made huge strides using contemporary technologies. The pharmaceutical industry is already thriving and not only meeting over 90% of our domestic needs but also exporting overseas. Its position will improve considerably with the initiative to produce biopharmaceuticals and recombinant vaccines and will become unassailable if it decides to collaborate with the academic and research communities in Bangladesh. A local research-led pharmaceutical industry could become an economic powerhouse by producing drugs for the domestic and export market and in the process creating employment for a trained workforce and improving the scientific proficiency of the country. Bangladesh could also take advantage of the patent law concessions granted to LDCs till 2015.
The private sector technology-driven industries could support R&D in academia and in the public sector in many different ways and, in the process, build their own long-term economic base. They could provide industry-specific PhD studentships and PDFs, fund adjunct and visiting professorships in universities and internships for senior undergraduate students. They could also become commercial partners in collaborative research projects and support capacity and infrastructure development through "first right of refusal" agreements. Industries could get credit and recognition through naming rights. Since investment in R&D involves considerable financial risk, GoB could provide tax concessions or tax credits as is the norm in all developed countries and economies in transition.
Bangladeshi researchers at ICDDR,B, Dhaka University and other institutions have won international competitive research grants. The opportunities for international research funding are immense but to fully utilise this opportunity the government and science leaders need to be represented on the international science and technology stage. The record in this respect is very poor mainly because Bangladeshi policy-makers are yet to recognise the importance of science in overall economic development. This needs immediate redress.
6. Learning from the experience of others:
In almost every developing country where big strides have been made in building scientific proficiency, the strong support of the political leadership and the government bureaucracy has been crucial. However, progress has been enduring only in those countries where institutions resistant to regime change have been built and where the local industry has invested in the commercialisation of local research. A look at the comparative experiences of India and Pakistan, the two countries in the SAARC region that have invested the most in science and technology in recent times, will highlight this point.
The emergence of Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman as the Chairman of the Higher Education Commission during the reign of Gen. Parvez Musharraf saw a few thousand percent increase in funding resulting in radical improvement in the standard of higher education and S&T. Academics and scientists were given unprecedented incentives. The salary of a highly productive academic often exceeded that of a Minister and increases above a base salary were determined not by seniority but by productivity. For the first time, world-class research was facilitated through the increa-sed availability of PhD scholarships and research grants. Fast internet access to on-line scientific literature was made available to every institution of higher learning and research. Pakistan became the HQ of COMSTECH and the reenergised Pakistan Academy of Sciences made sure that Pakistan was adequately represented in important international scientific meetings by senior scientists. Young researchers were also adequately recognised and rewarded. However, in spite of these positive developments, there was hardly any transfer of technology from academia and research centres to industry.
Although the amount of funding provided to the higher education and technology sectors in Pakistan was unprecedented, much of it was not focused on deliverable priorities and was administered by an entrenched bureaucracy ill equipped to handle the change. There was a mushrooming of research centres without the requisite critical mass of expertise or adequate facilities. Capacity development was largely reliant on imported technology. The transformation was largely due to the ideas and efforts of one man who received unstinting support from the reigning president but did not succeed in building enduring institutions. When Gen. Musharraf left office the whole edifice came crashing down. This is not a model that Bangladesh should follow. What we need are institutions immune to regime change.
It is no accident or coincidence that India has emerged as an economic power and one of the most S&T proficient countries in the developing world. Ever since independence, successive governments of different political persuasions have steadfastly supported science and technology and the transfer of technology to industry. They have been aided by a very well trained and science-friendly bureaucracy. Nine different government departments support research in different scientific disciplines and industry sectors; almost all of them are headed by scientists on deputation with the rank of Secretaries. The Department of Biotechnology alone provides about $200 million p.a. in competitive research grants, PhD scholarships and for capacity and infrastructure development initiatives. Industries have been very quick to cash in on the fruits of research. So India has all the positive indicators for a successful S&T sector. These are very good examples for Bangladesh to follow.
IV. Knowledge and S&T-led development in Bangladesh based on partnerships:
Translating the fruits of higher education and research into products and processes that directly impact on the quality of life of the common man in Bangladesh requires that both higher education and research are focused on meeting the major economic challenges of Bangladesh. This in turn requires multidisciplinary collaboration and partnership between academia, research institutions and private industry with the active support and participation of relevant government departments.
1. Suggested restructuring and coordination within government departments:
An education and science-friendly bureaucracy can play a very positive role in the use of S&T in economic development. Deployment of bureaucrats with education, science and technology-transfer backgrounds within a cluster of education and S&T-related departments for most of their working life would ensure the development of expertise that can be shared on a long-term basis.
Government involvement in education and science-driven Public Private Partnership ( PPP) will be effective only if the ministries of Science, Information and Communication Technology (SICT), Education and Industry can coordinate their own activities and involve one or more of the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Energy and Environment as required by the project. Coordination and pooling of resources between different Ministries to achieve special technology-based outcomes could be effected through the establishment of the following:
(i). Parliamentary Standing Committee for knowledge and S&T-based economic development:
The main purpose of Committee would be to support and monitor specific joint activities of Ministries of Education, SICT and Industry and other relevant Ministries for the implementation of S&T-driven priority projects. This Committee would oversee the activities of the following department and its constituent coordinating units.
(ii). Department of Advanced Studies and Research Applications:
This Department, with its own Secretariat, would be jointly operated /sponsored by the Ministries of Education, SICT and Industry, with additional input from the UGC and the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Energy and Environment. The Department of Advanced Studies and Research Applications would manage the generation and utilisation of Intellectual Property (Patents), provide research grants and scholarships for multi-disciplinary collaborative research, and promote commercialisation of research through transfer of technology to SMEs all over the country. The R&D activities sponsored by this Department would be managed through a small number of coordinating units in priority areas such as:
-Biotechnology (Agriculture, Health, Environment, and Energy)
-ICT and e-Applications (e-governance, e-commerce)
-Alternate and Renewable Energy Research and Production
-Countering Effects of Climate Change and Environmental Challenges
Each one of the coordinating units could sponsor a world-class Institute / "Centre of Excellence" which would consist of a Research Division (including external research groups at universities and research centres throughout the country), a Technology and Major Equipment Division (national resource centre) and a Technology and Commercialisation Division (in partnership with industry). The Research Divisions could provide the platform for the establishment of virtual research universities equivalent to the outstanding "deemed" research universities in India. The whole concept is illustrated below using Biotechnology as a tool for meeting development objectives.
2. Building biotechnology capacity for implementation of development objectives:
The community of Bangladeshi academics, researchers and students, both inside and outside the country, have been very active in promoting the development of their scientific discipline and in preparing policy documents and proposals. Communication and on-line exchange of views has been maintained through the Global Network of Bangladeshi Biotechnologists (GNOBB; www. Gnobb.org) and their student counterpart (youngBB@ yahoo.com). Two international conferences on Promotion of Biotechnology (April, 2007) and Regulatory and Safety Issues in the Commercialisation of Biotechnology Research (December, 2008) were organised in Dhaka by the community of Bangladeshi Biotechnologists. In response to the National Biotechnology Policy released in late 2006, a Position Paper for implementation of the Biotechnology Policy was produced. This, together with a set of recommendations, was endorsed by over 300 participants present at the 2007 conference and formally submitted to the Ministries of SICT, Agriculture and Health in April 2007. The Biotechnology community is still waiting for a response. A revised version of the recommendations is given below:
(i). It is proposed that the Government establish an autonomous National Commission for Biotechnology (NCBT) as one of the coordinating units of the Department of Advanced Studies and Research Applications. The NCBT will oversee the implementation of the Biotechnology Policy, be the reference centre for Biotechnology-related regulatory issues, and accommodate all Biotechnology Committees of the GoB. The Governing Board of the NCBT, reporting to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Knowledge and S&T-based Economic Development, will consist of Secretaries of relevant Ministries, eminent biotechnologists, and representatives from the academic and industry sectors.
(ii). The NCBT will be the GoB's focal point for coordination and promotion of Biotechnology through liaison with relevant Government Departments, academic and research institutions, the private sector, and funding agencies. It will coordinate and fund Biotechnology research through a Biotechnology research grant scheme, and support Biotechnology education and training through pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training program in Biotechnology.
(iii). The existing National Institute of Biotechnology (NIB) in Savar would operate most efficiently as an autonomous "Research Flagship" of the NCBT with an internal research centre and would collaborate with external units (in universities and public and private research centres) spread across the country. The NIB, as the national resource and training centre, will play a complementary role with the NCBT in the development of biotechnology research in Bangladesh.
(iv). The internal centre of the NIB will consist of three sections: (a) Research Section; (b) Major Equipment and Core Facilities Section; and (c) Technology Transfer and Commercial Applications Section. The Research Section will consist of a number of Divisions covering different areas of Biotechnology (Agriculture, Health, Energy and Environment) with focused research objectives.
(v). The NIB will be the focal point for facilitating and supporting all research activities in modern biotechnology that are being carried out in different organisations in the country. The major equipment and core facilities and commercial expertise of the NIB should be accessible to all research groups involved in biotechnology research in Bangladesh.
(vi). An International Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC) needs to be formed with expatriate and local experts to review the scientific, technological and innovative activities of the NIB, ensure that the Institute's scientific activities conform to international trends and practices and help secure financial support for the NIB from international funding agencies. The ISAC should also provide expert advice to the NCBT, the Department of Advanced Studies and Research Applications and the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
3. Some suggested public private partnerships involving biotechnology: partnerships involving biotechnology:
(i). Production of Bio-Gas, Bio-Fertiliser and Bio-Fuels from animal and plant waste: The technology already exists within academic and government laboratories in Bangladesh and SMEs could be set up all through the country as a partnerships between private sector and Local Governments with the help of the Ministries of Industry, SICT, Energy and Agriculture. The technology could be further improved by biotechnologists working in academic and government laboratories.
(ii). Restructuring of the NIB into an internationally competitive "Centre of Excellence" for Biotechnology research and development: The GoB has already invested heavily in the infrastructure of the NIB. The private sector (biopharmaceutical and agri-biotech industries) in Bangladesh could set up the Technology Transfer and Commercialisation Section of the NIB. An additional $10-20 million required for setting up the major equipment and core technology facility and the concomitant operating funds could possibly be secured by the GoB under the Millennium Institute scheme (30 year loan, 1% interest p.a.).
(iii). Development of high-yielding food crops resistant to infective agents, insects, drought, salinity and floods: Collaboration (short, medium and long-term projects) between NIB and associated academic research centres, various ministries of the government, and private-sector funding from the agri-biotech and seed companies.
(iv). Development of essential biopharmaceuticals and vaccines: Collaborations (short, medium and long-term projects) between NIB and associated biomedical laboratories, various government ministries, and private funding and infrastructure support from the pharmaceutical industry. This would also have an enormous export potential.
(v). Bio-prospecting the unique flora and fauna for the discovery of new drugs, biological pesticides and bio-fuels: Collaboration (medium to long-term) between NIB and associated academic research laboratories, various ministries of the government, and private sector funding from pharmaceutical and energy industries.
(vi). New Jute varieties with improved fibre quality and resistant to environmental stress: Collaboration (medium to long-term) between NIB, academic and government research laboratories, various Ministries of the Government, and private funding from the jute industry. This would also have enormous export potential.
Biotechnologists of Bangladesh, both resident and expatriate, have expressed eagerness to develop comprehensive plans for each of the above initiatives (PPP) in collaboration with the relevant government departments and private sector.
Bangladesh has set itself the goal of becoming a middle income and technologically-competent nation by 2021, the 50th year of its independence. The key to effecting this transformation is achieving excellence in higher education and scientific proficiency which, considering the current state of the academic and research sectors, will not be an easy task. The goal is ambitious but achievable if we are prepared to change the way we think and do things. There will need to be a sea-change in the academic and research sectors with changes in curricula that prepare the graduates for gainful employment at home, focus on major national priorities through multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaboration and embrace intellectual property and technology transfer as obligations.
The government will need to play a very supportive role in getting the technology-based products and processes to the people, the farms and the hospitals. For this, there needs to be coordination within and between the Ministries of Education, SICT and Industry and cooperation with sectorial Ministries such as Agriculture, Health, Energy and Environment. The application of the concept of PPP in a small number of focused initiatives in areas of national priority with the involvement of relevant government departments, academia, research centres and industry is the best way to move forward. The industrial sector needs to invest in R&D and in S&T development not only in the national interest but also for sound business reasons.
Ahmed A. Azad has been appointed by TWAS (The Academy of Science of the Developing World) as a TWAS Research Professor in Bangladesh. He previously held the positions of Director of Research and Professor of Medical Biotechnology, University of Cape Town (South Africa); Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO (Australia); Member, Council of Scientific Advisors, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB, Trieste); and Director, Board of the Medical Research Council of South Africa.