Founded in 1993, the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group program aims to link drug discovery, biodiversity research, conservation and development by means of collaboration between consortia of organizations. ICBG is financed through five-year grants from three organizations within the American Government: the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Since 1998, MBG has been involved in one of the five groups granted support under the ICBG Program. Between the years 1998 and 2003, our project had two centers: Surinam and the Zahamena Forest in Madagascar. In September 2003, the group's activities shifted to a number of dry deciduous forest sites in northern Madagascar and the work in Surinam was curtailed. Most recently, the Madagascar ICBG was funded for another five years.


The second phase of ICBG-Madagascar was launched in September, 2003. The consortium partners for this phase are:

Centre National d'Applications et des Recherches Pharmaceutiques
The CNARP is a part of Madagascar's Scientific Research Ministry and will focus on the collection of plant samples, preparation of extracts, and their evaluation in bioassays for diseases important in Madacasgar.

Centre National de Recherches Sur l'Environnement [website]
The CNRE is the primary in-country participant in the ICBG project responsible for collection and vouchering of samples of marine organisms. They will also work with other ICBG partner in Madagascar to insure that all ICBG activities there conform to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Conservation International [website]
Conservation International is responsible for the conservation and development elements of the programs in Madagascar.

Dow AgroSciences [website]
Dow AgroSciences began as a joint venture in 1989 between the Agricultural Products Department of The Dow Chemical Company and the Plant Sciences business of Eli Lilly and Company that resulted in the creation of DowElanco. In 1997, The Dow Chemical Company acquired 100 percent of DowElanco and the new wholly owned subsidiary was renamed Dow AgroSciences in 1998. The company will screen compounds collected during the ICBG project in order to evaluate their potential agrochemical utility.

Eisai Research Institute
Eisai Research Institute, an independent subsidiary of Eisai, Inc., is devoted to pharmaceutical research and development. Eisai has has success in the past using natural products as a springboard to drug discovery. They are primarily interested in finding medicines to treat cancer, immune disorders, and atopic disease.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University [website]
Virginia Tech has been involved with isolation and chemical characterization of active leads of compounds extracted from collections during the ICBG project. Dr. David Kingston, principal investigator and group leader, has supervised some 14,000 assays of more than 3,300 extracts. Virginia Tech has identified 30 different, unique extracts that have activity and have isolated 20 chemical compounds that have bioactivity.

In addition, in the field, we are establishing collaborative agreements with range of governmental and non-governmental organizations that are active in the northern Madagascar. These include the Service d’Appui à la Gestion de l’Environnement (who will assist us in the effective use of the funds for development), the Université Nord Madagascar (with whom we will develop an education program) and the provincial office of the Malagasy Government’s Water and Forest Service (with whom we will collaborate in training and conservation activities).


Zahamena (ICBG-Madagascar, Years 1-5)

We are valorizing our botanical inventories from Zahamena in the form of two guides: a Guide to the Woody Plants of Zahamena and a Conspectus of Zahamena’s Ferns. Ultimately both of these will be published but in the meantime they are available as incomplete drafts here.

Northern Madagascar (ICBG-Madagascar, Years 6-10)


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