The International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) Program is a unique effort that addresses the interdependent issues of drug discovery, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable economic growth. Funding for this program has been provided by nine components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Biological Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation and the Foreign Agriculture Service and Forest Service of the USDA.

The ICBG program aims to integrate improvement of human health through drug discovery, creation of incentives for conservation of biodiversity, and promotion of scientific research and sustainable economic activity that focuses on environment, health, equity and democracy. This program is based on the belief that discovery and development of pharmaceutical and other useful agents from natural products can, under appropriate circumstances, promote scientific capacity development and economic incentives to conserve the biological resources from which these products are derived.

Exploration, Conservation and Development of Marine Biodiversity in Fiji

Overall objectives are to discover small molecule drug leads against a targeted group of diseases critical to developing nations and to the United States, by using ecological insights to guide the investigation of novel natural products from biodiverse coral reef organisms and marine microbes of Fiji. The project also helps build local institutions and attitudes to conserve marine biodiversity of the South Pacific, and undertakes this goal in ways that provide positive economic incentives for the owners of these marine environments. These efforts will found the South Pacific Center for Biodiversity Conservation and Drug Discovery at the University of the South Pacific (USP). This center will serve the 12 island nations that own USP (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu), and be an independent and self-sustaining unit by the end of the ICBG grant.

Specific aims are:

To document microbial diversity and apply innovative discovery techniques to the search for novel natural products from select groups of marine bacteria.