QAU and COMSTECH organize

International Symposium on Biodiversity and Big Health Data
and 2nd Annual Meeting of Biodiversity and Health Big Data (BHBD) Alliance

The International Symposium on Global Biodiversity and the 2nd Annual Meeting of the BHBD Alliance Meeting was held at the COMSTECH Secretariat, Islamabad on Thursday, 18th July 2019.

The event was organized by the National Center for Bioinformatics, Quaid-i-Azam University in collaboration with COMSTECH and Beijing Institute of Genomics (BIG), Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The BHBD Alliance was formed in October 2018 in Beijing with the five founding institutions from China, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. The aim of the BHBD Alliance was to develop a platform for biodiversity and health big data integration, translation and sharing.

Federal Minister for Education Mr. Shafqat Mahmood who was the Chief Guest on the opening session emphasized the importance of conserving biodiversity in the face of global climate change and lauded the development of a big health data repository under the BHBD Alliance initiated by the Beijing Institute of Genomics, China.

Dr. S. Khurshid Hasanain, Advisor COMSTECH (OIC Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation) identified the role of COMSTECH as advancing S&T in OIC member states through cooperation, collaborations and support for scientific initiatives.  Considering the crucial importance of this alliance in providing its members access to a vast data base of biodiversity and its genomic sequencing, COMSTECH was very keen to see other OIC member States becoming a part of this alliance. He offered COMSTECH collaboration with BHBD Alliance, under the Ten Year Science and Technology Agenda of the OIC.

While addressing the inaugural session Prof. Dr. Muhammad Ali, Vice Chancellor, lauded the efforts of the organizers and Chinese support for Pakistan in a variety of fields. He urged Pakistani scientists to derive maximum benefits from this initiative by forming research collaborations and usage of the scientific facilities offered by the alliance. Earlier Dr. Amir Ali Abbasi, Chairperson, National Center for Bioinformatics, QAU and Focal person of the Big Health Data Alliance (BHBD) briefed the audience regarding objectives and expected outcomes of the project.

Experts from China, Thailand, Russia, Pakistan, Iran and Malaysia participated as the keynote speakers in the symposium. Genomics, environment, genetics, biodiversity, health big data alliance, rice biodiversity research and fellowship initiative of CAS president were the topics covered in the presentations of the experts. More than 115 researchers, students and faculty members from universities and research institutions of Pakistan participated in the event.

In the afternoon session the BHBD Alliance held its Second Annual Meeting. It was attended by BHBD Council members, COMSTECH and delegates from Iran and Malaysia. Overall progress of the alliance since its establishment was evaluated.

COMSTECH was represented by Adviser COMSTECH, Dr. S. Khurshid Hasanain, who informed participants of COMSTECH’s interest for collaboration with BHBD alliance and the role of COMSTECH to build capacity of the OIC member states towards easier access to genomics big data. Dr. Hasanain mentioned COMSTECH efforts to invite some of the OIC member states to this alliance.

Chairperson of BHBD alliance Prof. Yiming Bao along with other council members warmly welcomed and recognized COMSTECH efforts in this regard. He further urged that COMSTECH will play an important role to connect BHBD alliance with countries like Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia and particularly countries in Africa e.g. Sudan, Nigeria and Tunisia.

Chairperson also informed that according to statues, membership of BHBD alliance is open to all countries and institutions. While there is no membership fees, member institutions are expected to contribute scientifically by providing technical facilities, data sharing or exchange of scientific staff.

It was concluded that BHBD alliance and COMSTECH may work together in future in order to enhance

•        Collaboration for analytic facilities.

•        Exchange of scientists and experts among member countries.

•        Research collaboration in the field of biodiversity, genomics, bioinformatics and Crop informatics among BHBD member countries and OIC member states.

In the 2nd session of BHBD which was open to council members only, request of Shahid Bahonar, University of Kerman, Iran and Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Malaysia, for BHBD membership was unanimously approved by the BHBD Council members.v

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