About Us

Who we are

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The United Nations University Biotechnology Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU-BIOLAC) was officially created in 1988 through an agreement between the Venezuelan Government and the United Nations University (UNU - http://www.unu.edu). Its creation was the initial step to impulse the establishment of an institute for the development of Biotechnology in Latin America and the Caribbean, which headquarters were placed in Venezuela. The establishment of the Programme was possible thanks to the Venezuelan Government contribution and the UNU allowances funds. The Venezuelan Government has continuously contributed financing UNU-BIOLAC venue rent and public services. The organization that made the agreement for Venezuela is FONACIT, previously known as CONICIT.

UNU-BIOLAC is an autonomous institution that provides capacity building opportunities for professionals with higher education and encourages research. The activities are organized and executed in collaboration with scientific and academic institutions and organizations, as well as the collaboration of an international network of highly qualified researchers and academicians who are experts in biotechnology.

The UNU has an academic position inside the system of the United Nations. Its responsibility is to contribute to the advance of knowledge, to the development of human resources, and to the spreading of the obtained results. The academic and research activities that are planned and executed search to solve global problems pertaining security and human development.

As component of the UNU, the UNU-BIOLAC Programme deals with preparation/qualification and research in a frame of interaction between science, technology, and society to formulate how modern biotechnology can encourage social and economical development.

The United Nations University

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The United Nations University is define as “an international community of academicians dedicated to research, to superior education, to the generation and transfer of knowledge, and to the strengthening of individual and institutional capacities in furtherance of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” The University carries out its activities paying attention to pressing global problems and life quality development through a network of Research and Training Centres and Programmes (RTC/Ps) addressed to superior education and in cooperation with institutions of industrialized or developing countries.

Therefore, the UNU is strongly different to conventional universities regarding structure and way of operating.

Founded by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975, in 2005 UNU celebrated its 30th year of existence. The UNU is an autonomous body for research and superior education. It mainly relies on the interest of investing in the allowances funds of the university and voluntary contributions.

The activities of the UNU are carried out through a network of scientists and academicals assisted by associated and cooperating universities and institutions located in developed and developing countries. This is all possible due to the planning and coordination that the offices located in Tokyo provide. By means of a worldwide network, UNU divides its activities in two big thematic areas: (i) Planning and Governability; and (ii) Environment and Sustainable Development. Additionally, the Research and Training Centres and Programmes (RTC/Ps) are specialized in specific areas of research and teaching. They are established to conduct the well defined long-term necessities of the global community and also to strengthen the competence among institutions and academic groups, particularly in developing countries.


“Promote/Encourage the application of Biotechnology for Latin America and the Caribbean development through preparation/qualification, generation of new knowledge, and research oriented to solve critical problems of the region.” In order to fulfil this declared mission and to diminish the unequal distribution of practical knowledge in the region, our goals are:
• Coordinate and promote research oriented to improve social and economic welfare in Venezuela and the rest of the Latin American countries and the Caribbean.
• Encourage research, advanced and specialized training for professionals of superior education, and spreading of biotechnology subjects and related topics.
• Focus on providing knowledge and experience transfer among researchers and technicians of the region and outside of it.


“Be an international centre of biotechnology assisted by cooperating institutes that is dedicated to create knowledge, to train, to develop essential competences, and to solve problems to transform the Latin American and Caribbean societies. Thus, according to UNU mission, the social conscience will increase, the superior education will be improved, and the pressing global problems that are a concern of the United Nations, its Peoples and Member States will be solved.”


• Spread biotechnology as a discipline that contributes to the economic development, the auto-sustainability, and the competitive capacity of the region.

• Provide and encourage discussions to define Latin American and the Caribbean position regarding Bioethics, without excluding the global context.

• Contribute to the formulation of a regulation system in Biosafety, considering the singularities of each region.

• Plan the activities of the Programme considering the current necessities of the region regarding specific preparation and qualification, research, development and definition of policies concerning biotechnology.

• Encourage projects that produce tangible results and that are oriented to solve problems applying biotechnology to agriculture, health, biologic diversity and food.

• Be the link between universities, institutions, and the private sector of developed countries to allow the transfer of advanced biotechnology to their equivalent of the region.

• Extend the training of different biotechnological disciplines to the private sector individuals and governmental employees involved in activities and decisions related to biotechnology.

• Measure the impact of the Programme in the development of institutions and professionals to which support has been given.

UNU-BIOLAC achieves its goals through the following activities:

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  • Fellowships for research and training
  • Advanced courses for preparing/qualifying people who already awarded a bachelor degree
  • Research and training networks

Organizational Structure

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UNU-BIOLAC is part of the UNU as one of its Research and Training Centres and Programmes.

The UNU-BIOLAC Programme operates under the authority of the UNU Rector. The Rector acts both as the University’s chief academic and as the administrative officer.
The staff is compounded by the coordinator, an advisor, a senior assistant and a junior assistant. The Coordinator is responsible for the general direction, the organization and management of the Programme and the assessment of different academic proposals and fellowship candidates, as well as setting the guidelines to follow in order to keep abreast with the ever changing needs of the region and the latest developments in biotechnology.
The Advisor assists the Coordinator in keeping updated on new developments in Biotechnology and setting up strategies to orient activities.
Each one of them is under the regulations and norms of the United Nations and under other norms and rules of other members of the UN family, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The work done by the Coordinator of the Programme is guided by a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), which is constituted by four academic researchers. The SAC is established on a wide geographical base and the selected members come from different academic fields related to the priority areas that the Programme develops. The SAC and the Coordinator, together provide the guidelines to the institutional development and to apply the Mission in the execution of research and superior education activities. The SAC meets once a year for the reviewing of the conceptual and substantial approach of the activities. It maintains a permanent electronic communication.

The Academic Community of UNU-BIOLAC is constituted by a network of researchers and institutions that are members of the Programme under several agreements of institutional cooperation. The members of this academic network coordinate the research and training projects, carry out training activities, and are tutors of research and training internships. The association with the Programme is temporal for specific tasks, which depend on the duration of a specific project.


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The United Nations University of Biotechnology Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU - BIOLAC ), focused on topics such as new bioenergy resources, emerging tropical diseases, climate change, human health, including the challenges posed by new technologies and environmental pollution .

The positive impact of the activities undertaken by UNU- BIOLAC in underdeveloped countries in the region has resulted in a progressive increase in the proposed academic and research grants. To date UNU- BIOLAC has supported more than 1,567 researchers / fellows and has worked in partnership with various academic and research centres in the region through the development of workshops, seminars and conferences that have benefited more than 11,730 professionals in the field of biotechnology. A future challenge of UNU- BIOLAC is to continue strengthening the scope of its activities in Latin American countries that have difficulty getting matching funds and financial resources for biotechnology research.

Thus UNU- BIOLAC has positioned itself in the Latin American region as an academic reference to a strategy of impact results, research training and capacity building with emphasis on experimental work in biotechnology.

During the reporting period for 2012 UNU- BIOLAC , besides participating in various forums and dissemination activities , co-organized 18 international courses and awarded 8 grants of intermediate duration .

Currently UNU-BIOLAC has an active partnership with the following institutions:
  • Fundación Instituto de Estudios Avanzados IDEA - Venezuela
  • International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) - Italy
  • Consejo Nacional para Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, CONICIT - Costa Rica.
  • Dirección de Innovación, Ciencia y Tecnología para el Desarrollo perteneciente al Ministerio de Educación y Cultura-Uruguay (DICyT-MEC).
  • University of Granada - Spain.

Also UNU-BIOLAC activities are accomplished through the collaboration of an extensive academic network of Universities and research institutes from the Latin American region and the world.