Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)

PROGRAMMES

Second Meeting of COMSATS' International Thematic Research Group on 'Natural Products Sciences'

The Second Meeting of COMSATS’ International Thematic Research Group (ITRG) on ‘Natural Products Sciences’ was held on 6th June 2013, in Izmir-Turkey, on the sidelines of Workshop on “Plant Products Chemistry” and International Symposium on “Medicinal-Aromatic Plants” (4-7 June 2013). The Group Leader, Prof. Dr. M. Iqbal Choudhary, Director of COMSATS’ Centre of Excellence–International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi-Pakistan – chaired the meeting. The meeting was held to review the activities of the Group during 2011 to 2013 and to strategize the future plans of the joint research project, titled ‘Drug Discovery from Nature for Neglected Diseases’. Co-chaired by Prof. Munir Ozturk of the host institution, Ege University, Turkey, the meeting was attended by 24 participants in all from Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia and Turkey.

Prof. Choudhary welcomed the participants of the meeting in his opening remarks, and highlighted the objectives of the ITRG and the importance and relevance of the outcomes of its research activitiesfor the developing countries. Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Ozturk emphasized the need of effective collaboration between the Group members belonging to different developing countries.

The agenda-itemsthat formed the basis of the meeting related to: Instrument Sharing Programme for member institutions; Bioassay Screening Programme for member institutions; Screening of plant extracts in antimicrobial and anti-parasitic assays in order to discover new lead compounds against infections; and training visits for scientists and technicians involved in the group research activities.

During the meeting,a general agreement prevailed among the members of the Group to build strongworking relations through the platform provided by COMSATS.The participants offered their research facilities and expertise to achieve various tasks of the joint project. Training requirements were also identifiedfor technical support for phytochemical work; high-resolution techniques for structure elucidation of natural products; and research activities in antimicrobial and anti-insecticidal natural products.

An open offer was made to all the Group members to avail the facility of bioassay screening of medicinal plants at ICCBS or any other member institution of the Group where such facilities are available.The future activities of the Group and responsibilities of members were further streamlined during the course of the meeting, agreement on which waslater formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by 18 members, at the end of the meeting. It was also decided, in principle, that the next meeting of the Group will be held at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Malaysia, in 2014.