Funding of research and development in Georgia

Applied research and development in the field of life sciences, including molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases, are currently underdeveloped in Georgia, and capacity development in this area is hampered by the lack of adequately trained experts in modern biomedical technologies. Despite reasonably good standards in theoretical teaching, academic education in biomedical sciences is underdeveloped in Georgia. Although it is recognized that practical training towards developing analytical skills and undertaking autonomous independent research activities is of the utmost importance for young researchers in the life sciences, there are as yet no state-of-the-art laboratories available for student training in the life sciences and biotechnology in Georgia.

Owing to the successful application by Prof. Dr. Martin, a research project addressing these shortcomings is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation since the end of 2015. The Sokhumi State University (SSU) in Tbilisi aims at developing a new focus in education and research and at allowing for state-of-the-art practical training in life sciences and biotechnology. The pilot project is supposed to remedy the problem of deficient practical laboratory education, which is widespread in Eastern Europe as well as many other developing and newly industrializing countries. The SSU recently founded the Center for Molecular Diagnostics and Biotechnology (CMDB) and provided newly renovated office and laboratory space for this center. Additional laboratory equipment will be purchased with the budget of the project.

Building on these developments, the objective of the current proposal is the establishment of a new training course in “Molecular Methods in Biomedical Sciences”, which will be offered to selected students of biology and medicine. This course will comprise theoretical and practical education and site visits by international experts in molecular and cell biology, most notably from Hannover Medical School (MHH). The overarching aim of this project is to raise the level of theoretical and practical undergraduate education in the life sciences to international standards and to enable Georgian graduate students to successfully apply to renowned international master and PhD programmes.

In the long term, the project will significantly contribute to the improvement of education in biosciences and medicine, to a nationwide improvement of molecular diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities, and, in a wider perspective, can contribute towards achieving an improved quality of life and advances in the Georgian economy. A positive side effect of this pilot project is the acquisition of highly motivated and well-educated biomedical student for the PhD programmes at MHH.