Imoulan, postdoctoral student from Morocco, is examining a new species of fungus in his lab.
“It’s so exciting to discover a new fungus in such a short time,” said Imoulan.
Extracted from earth in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the new species may be useful in agriculture, in control of pests and disease, reducing chemical pollution.
Imoulan came to China in 2014, and is now doing his research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) institute of microbiology.
“I owe my professor a big thank you. And thanks to CAS, I have a scholarship as well as such good equipment,” he said. “It would have taken much longer to finish my experiments back home.”
With the support of the CAS President’s International Fellowship Initiative (PIFI), CAS-TWAS Center of Excellence for Biotechnology provides opportunities for students from developing countries seeking solutions to the problems of resources, energy, population, health and environment in those countries.
“CAS, as one of China’s leading research institutions, plays its part in science and technology research in the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Wang Ruiyan, program manager at the center.
According to Wang, the center has offered fellowships to over 50 students and visiting scholars from developing countries in the past three years.
“This kind of exchange program strengthens scientific cooperation between China and other countries, improving international cooperation on biotechnology research,” said Wang.
Prof. Yao Yijian, researcher at the institute and Imoulan’s supervisor said, “We provide students with the latest approaches and the best equipment. In turn, they bring us fresh ideas. This pushes forward research on both sides.”
Fitsum, an Ethiopian PhD student encountered a problem in his work, but with his supervisor’s guidance, managed to continue his research and is about to publish his first paper.
“I am very grateful to the professors who have helped me all the way. You know, few people do such research in Ethiopia. If I hadn’t come to China, it would have taken me 10 years to finish my first paper,” he said.
“When I go back to Ethiopia, I want to teach in universities and take what I have learnt here to students there,” he added.
A CAS report on biotechnology published earlier this week said the number of biotechnology patents from Belt and Road countries has been growing steadily.
[The Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy and framework, proposed by Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB) and oceangoing “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR)]
According to Wang, PIFI scholarships are important to scientific research and cooperation in Belt and Road countries.
“Some of the students have graduated and gone back home, contributing to science and growth in their countries,” said Wang.
“We are just doing basic research, and we still have a long way to go,” he said. “We hope our center has done something to initiate deeper cooperation and nurture more scientists.”