ICGEB Smart Fellowships
ICGEB Smart Fellowships
South-South human capital development through ICGEB Fellowships for long and short-term PhD and Postdoctoral studies

Challenges

Research and innovation capabilities and infrastructures in the Global South are far from being fully optimized. This is due to several factors, from scarce domestic and international funding, low capacity, poor governance, and a shortage of women in science, to weak links between industry and academia. Laboratories are often poorly equipped or totally inexistent, and science students receive minimal practical research training because the few research centres that do exist are usually separate from universities. Southern countries request support for scientific research and human capital development in the field of biotechnology – applied to health, agriculture and clean energy – in order to respond to major, current societal challenges such as food security, infectious and non-communicable diseases, and climate change. Inclusive higher education and post-university trainings are considered key factors in addressing these fields, with a positive spill-over effect for all levels of the society, for the economy, and in contributing effectively to sustainable development. 

Towards a Solution

The ICGEB Fellowships Programme tackle Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (Quality education) directly by expanding the availability of scholarships for higher education, with a focus on students and young scientists from ICGEB Member States, the vast majority of which are in the Global South, including from many least developed countries (LDCs); the Programme has been developed with a strong focus on inclusivity and gender equality (to date, 59 percent are female fellows).

Through this Programme, the ICGEB has been developing human capacity in scientific research in the Life Sciences for over 30 years. The Fellowship Programme has three main components:

  • a three-year PhD course, in one of the ICGEB's laboratories in Italy, India or South Africa, which includes intensive training in laboratory research to gain a PhD degree certified through specific agreements with internationally renowned universities;
  • a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowships for novel and innovative research to be performed in one of the ICGEB laboratories, or in a recognized laboratory in an ICGEB Member State;
  • the ICGEB Scientific Mobility for Advanced Research Training (SMART) Short-term Fellowships, of three to nine months, intended for young scientists from countries of the South to carry out research in top-class laboratories in other countries in the South, which would otherwise be impossible in their home institutes.

The Programme has proved instrumental in enhancing capacities and helping young researchers acquire specific, theoretical and hands-on research skills in new technologies that are available in the host laboratory, as well as improving their scientific network and collaborations, and it has increased the internationalization of the laboratories in the ICGEB constituency.

Successful scientific research is a collaborative endeavour, and as a result of these ICGEB Fellowships, a strong community of ICGEB alumni across many countries in the Global South has been established, capable of building strong transnational scientific collaborations.

The ICGEB Fellows are direct beneficiaries of the Fellowship Programme, receiving advanced training in the fields of biomedicine, biotechnology and plant biotechnology, consequently enhancing their career prospects. The wider scientific communities within the Fellows' home countries and geographical regions benefit indirectly from enhanced human capital and brain-drain reversal when the Fellows return to their country of origin, with an enhanced national innovation potential adapted to the local needs. In the long term, the Programme contributes to inspiring future domestic and regional research leadership, creating employment, establishing a network of highly qualified researchers and, ultimately, contributing to the wellbeing, peace and security of the citizens in the Global South.

In 2019 alone the programme facilitated South-South exchanges and cooperation by supporting a number of 182 Fellows in the ICGEB laboratories: 25 from Africa, 138 from Asia, 16 from South and Central America, and three from the Middle East. With regard to Scientific Mobility for Advanced Research Training (SMART) Fellowship, since its inception in 2014, a total of 28 fellowships were awarded to young researchers from all continents. In 2019, six new SMART fellowships (four female fellows) were awarded: three at the PhD level and three at the Postdoc level, specifically, students moved from Brazil to Uruguay, from Algeria to Croatia, from Syrian Arab Republic to Pakistan, from India to China, from Syrian Arab Republic to India, and from Morocco to Tunisia.

The direct beneficiaries of the ICGEB Fellowship Programme - the scientists and their institutes – develop their scientific skills and become scientific leaders, teachers and mentors in their respective countries; sustainability is ensured since during and after their Fellowship they form, and continue to build, international links and networks. Their membership of the ICGEB Alumni group, their collaborations with ICGEB Principal Investigators, and their increased level of international exposure and scientific networking increases their opportunities for wider collaboration.

The initiative is scalable and replicable in other countries in the Global South, since the ICGEB has a strong scientific network worldwide and its Programme management structure has been working effectively for decades. The model of ICGEB's standard procedures and infrastructure, which have a reputation for neutrality, integrity and transparency, are easily reproduced.

Contact Information

Marianna Maculan, Chief, External Relations, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)

Countries involved

Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte D'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Hungary, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe

Supported by

ICGEB; Governments of Italy, India, and South Africa.

Implementing Entities

International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

Project Status

Ongoing

Project Period

2/2014

URL of the practice

https://www.icgeb.org/activities/fellowship/

Primary SDG

04 - Quality Education

Primary SDG Targets

4.5, 4.b

Secondary SDGs

17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Secondary SDG Targets

17.6

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