Thursday, January 18, 2007

QB3 Malaysia Programme

Top Malaysian bioscience graduate students and postdoctoral scientists will have a chance to study in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of a new program aimed at boosting Asia's ability to find treatments for some of the world's most devastating diseases.

The $6.7 million program is funded by the non-profit Malaysia Biotechnology Corporation, which reports to the Malaysian government. Over the next five years, it will allow up to 30 Malaysian graduate students and postdocs to gain valuable technical skills in the laboratories of the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, or QB3, a cooperative effort that integrates the scientific expertise of UCSF, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz with private industry to benefit human health.

Taking these skills back home, the participants can strengthen the technical ability of Malaysian biomedical research. The hope is that the increasingly sophisticated Malaysian workforce and the economies of the region will allow the country to take on development of drugs for tropical diseases that have been neglected by the Western pharmaceutical industry.

"Malaysia is a developing country that wishes to develop a biotechnology industry," said Reg Kelly, PhD, director of QB3. "Their vision is to build that industry around diseases that are not being addressed by Western biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. QB3 wants to help them."

Kelly serves as principal investigator on the new project. Neglected diseases include malaria, African sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis, Chagas' disease and tuberculosis. These diseases disable or kill hundreds of millions of people in the developing world every year. In addition, the program aims to prepare young scientists to help Malaysia develop new diagnostics or treatments for important emerging viruses like Dengue, or the new and lethal Nipah and EV71 viruses.

The new program also supports visits by senior Malaysian scientists for three to 12 months to gain sophisticated laboratory training; brief, intensive training courses in biotechnology for Malaysian administrators; and an option for students and more senior Malaysian scientists to participate in UCSF's Center for Bioentrepreneurship to learn the skills needed to help move laboratory discoveries into commercialization.

Hence the programme is now seeking outstanding Malaysian scientists who wish advanced training in the strategies needed to develop novel drugs and diagnostics for neglected and emerging diseases. After training in California the successful candidates are expected to return to Malaysia to become faculty at the new National Institute for Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals.

The program is designed for three categories of Malaysian candidates:
  1. Students who have completed graduate training (PhD or MD) and wish further post-doctoral experience.

  2. Students who have started their thesis work in Malaysia, or elsewhere and have institutional approval to complete their thesis work in QB3 as part of this program.

  3. Students who are currently completing their undergraduate or Master's degree and wish to do their research at QB3 as part of this program. Such students will enroll and obtain their PhD degrees from Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Applicants can download the application forms from The application should include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, contact details for three letters of reference and
a 1-2 page statement of research interests and future career goals.

Completed application materials should be submitted electronically as a single document in PDF format by February 15, 2007. Decisions on acceptance will be made by March 31, 2007. All applicants should indicate which of the qb3 faculty listed on the website would be acceptable to them as mentors and why. Submit applications electronically to: qb3-Malaysia Program Assistant -

For more information on the programme, check out the QB3 Website. Thanks to LPF for the heads up. ;)

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