BIOTEC has four thematic research programs, namely Agriculture and Food, Health and Medicine, Energy and Environment and Bioresource Conservation and Utilization. Platform technologies have been created to strengthen capacity in certain technologies and subsequently provide knowledge platforms for the thematic research programs.
Thematic Research Programs
- Agriculture and Food. The focus is on research and development of food, plant and animal biotechnology, with a special emphasis on using biotechnology to improve yield and quality. Plant biotechnology focuses on three economically important crops, i.e. rice, cassava and oil palm as well as supports a growing seed industry. Animal biotechnology at BIOTEC focuses on shrimp. The aim of this research is to understand the molecular biology of reproductive maturation, growth and immune system of black tiger shrimp in order to improve farming sustainability including genetic improvement of domesticated black tiger shrimp. Food biotechnology aims to improve and upgrade the processing and quality of food industry, with the prime focus on traditional Thai fermented food. Three main research areas are food safety and risk assessment, food chemistry and starter culture technology.
- Health and Medicine. This program focuses its research and development to advance knowledge on neglected diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and dengue fever which are still prevalent in Thailand. Malaria research aims to understand the mechanisms of drug resistance and synthesize new drugs. The main strategies involve rational drug design and the synthesis of new effective antimalarials based on the structures of the drug targets. Tuberculosis research focuses on drug target identification and development of screening assays, study of drug resistance mechanisms and development of rapid diagnostic methods. Dengue research focuses on the molecular and immunological processes involved in the pathogenesis of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and its more severe form, dengue shock syndrome (DSS) and its future application for better diagnosis and prevention of the disease.
- Energy and Environment. The program focuses on the treatment and rehabilitation in order to solve environmental problems, as well as renewable energy. Research topics include the phytoremediation of saline soil, waste minimization, waste treatment and biogas technology, as well as energy and resource efficiency in agro-industry.
- Bioresource Conservation and Utilization. This program addresses the preservation, utilization and conservation of microbial resources. It has a special emphasis on the utilization of biotechnology as a core technology to increase the value of commercial products, such as food and feed products, enzyme products, drug and bioactive compounds and biocontrol products.
Platform technologies focus on building capacity in technologies and subsequently providing knowledge platforms for the thematic research programs. Platform technologies of current focus include:
- Genomics Technology. The objectives of the Genomics Technology platform are to improve the capacity of genomics and post-genomics research in Thailand, to strengthen the infrastructure and human resources and to facilitate the application for agricultural, medical, industrial, and environmental solutions. Founded in 2007, the Genome Institute focuses on research and development of technologies related to genomics, high-throughput sequencing, proteomics, bioinformatics, and systems biology. The Institute also provides scientific assistance in high-performance computing (HPC) as an infrastructure for scientific communities in Thailand. Currently, The Genome Institute houses the following genomic databases: rice, shrimp, cassava, spirulina, rubber tree and ThaiSNP, accessible through the Internet.
- Microbial Biotechnology. This platform is established to utilize the richness of genes from naturally occurring microbes as well as to enable the manipulation of both natural and synthetic genes in the future. Capabilities developed include metagenomics, heterologous gene expression, engineering design and biochemical process.
- Agro-Biotechnology. The program focuses on the capacity building in the following core areas: gene transformation and expression, vaccine technology and diagnosis technology.