Enabling Pharmaceutical Bioexploration in Tanzania

Rutgers University, 2006 - $40,700

This program supports the expansion of the Global Institute for BioExploration (GIBEX) into Tanzania. GIBEX, a partnership among Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and North Carolina State University, facilitates sustainable pharmacological bioexploration driven by the concept of “Reversing the Flow,” a term the institute has coined for keeping resources in the source countries rather than removing them. GIBEX does this by training local scientists in developing countries to use portable, field-deployable screening technology, named Screens-to-Nature technology (STN); helping local farmers and manufacturers profit by growing and selling the medicinal plants GIBEX identifies for commercial production; and assigning any intellectual property resulting from the bioexploration to the host country, offering the opportunity to get the products to market through licensing arrangements. GIBEX shares the STN technology with academic institutions in Africa and around the world.

Summer 2009 update: In April 2007 GIBEX successfully conducted training at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and by January 2008 had screened extracts from 50 plant species out of the proposed 300 to send through chemical tests. An entrepreneurial workshop held in Tanzania in June 2008 was designed to generate licensing interest. By September 2009, 220 plant species have been screened and 3 students are attached to the STN project and biodiversity documentation. Avon, Inc. registered as a corporate member of GIBEX, and McNeil Nutritionals LLC and L’Oreal are following GIBEX activities. Collaborators at the University of Dar-es-Salaam have obtained government approval in Tanzania to collect plant samples from the forest reserves of the Eastern and Western Arc Mountains for STN bioassay work and will screen the remaining 80 plants using STN technology as well as carry out bioexploration and biodiversity documentation. Most of the data collected so far have been entered into the NAPIS and STN databases.