The International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) Program is described on the John E. Fogarty International Center website as "a unique effort that addresses the interdependent issues of biological exploration and discovery, socioeconomic benefits, and biodiversity conservation. Modern medicine, crop protection, and bioenergy remain very dependent on chemical or biological derivatives of diverse organisms from nature and advances in these areas continue to look to biodiversity for solutions. Discovery research to understand the diverse potential applications of earth's plants, animals and microorganisms is urgent because enduring habitat destruction and the resulting diminishment of biodiversity will make it increasingly difficult to do so in the future.
The Fogarty-managed Biodiversity Program is designed to guide natural products drug discovery, ethnomedical and botanicals research, crop protection science and bioenergy exploration toward international collaborative models that provide local communities, universities and other organizations from low and middle income countries direct benefits from the diverse biological resources of their countries. Benefit-sharing may provide clear incentives for preservation and sustainable use of that biodiversity.
The overarching goal of this ICBG (Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Papua New Guinea is to improve human health and well being through an integrated set of programs dedicated to the description, assessment, rational utilization, and conservation of biodiversity in Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG is home to approximately 5% of the world's biodiversity. An understanding of the range of biological resources existing in PNG is essential for their management, for the preservation of species critical to indigenous cultures, and for the development of strategies for sustainable use. Our central hypothesis is that effective new therapeutics can be derived from the natural products of PNG's biological wealth. Such therapeutics, either as validated traditional medicines or developed Western medicines, can provide needed revenue to local stake-holders and responsible PNG institutions, and an incentive for the preservation of biological diversity. The university-based drug discovery program will focus on human immunodeficiency virus and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The source organisms for drug discovery will be terrestrial endophytic microbes and marine invertebrate animals.
Documentation and preservation of traditional knowledge concerning medicinal plant use in PNG will be a second emphasis of this work. Medicinal plant surveys will be complemented by projects in support of the PNG Ministry of Health's Traditional Medicines Taskforce, and student theses, to provide pharmacologic validation and chemical standardization of medicinal plants, and the identification of novel bioactive molecules. This research will provide professional development, educational opportunities and technology transfer for collaborating scientists and students.
Conservation and biodiversity studies will center in the CTFS/SIGEO forest dynamics plot that has been established in Wanang, PNG, as an outcome of the previous grant cycle's achievements. This plot is a unique and powerful research tool for studying forest dynamics, carbon sequestration and climate effects. Plot activities will integrate botanical survey with ecosystem study to include soil microbes and small plants. Outreach activities conducted as part of the Traditional Medicines and botanical survey work will foster the conservation and sustainable use of resources and provide benefits to stake-holders. Legislative initiatives developed with government input promote scientific exchange, conservation and sustainable resource use.