The Centre was established in 2001 under the guidance and leadership of Professor William Aalbersberg as a research branch for the Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) involved in bioprospecting work on marine and terrestrial organisms and plants. The Centre has developed in strength and independence, establishing several partnerships over the years. In 2005, the Centre secured an ICBG grant through a consortium of Georgia Institute of Technology, Scripps Institute of Oceanography and IAS. This competitive grant has been successfully renewed twice and we are currently on a new 5 year term (2014-2019) of collaborative research. Success of the ICBG collaboration has brought new grants. The Centre was recently awarded a GEF (Global Environment Facility) grant through the Government of Fiji to work on nature-based products and building capacities for the application of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing (ABS) in Fiji.
The Centre continues to focus its research on the search for antibacterial, antifungal as well as anticancer activity from marine and terrestrial samples. New bioassays and in particular, an anti-dengue test facility is in the process of being set up. The Centre houses a library of actinomycete bacteria isolated from marine sediments and organisms including more than 1900 strains of marine bacteria and more than 3350 marine invertebrate/algae extracts that have been analyzed for general toxicity and against our in-house drug resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. We are also in the process of establishing libraries of pure compounds extracts from marine macro and microorganisms. There is also a DNA laboratory used in plant and animal/bacterial identification. We also supervise research students at the postgraduate level on topics relating to natural products chemistry and microbiology.
Research and Collaboration Opportunities:
The PNPRC is interested in building new collaborations with Academic Institutions, Public-Private Partnerships and Private Companies for the study of natural products to discover new Pharmaceuticals, Agrochemicals, Flavorings & Preservatives or Cosmetic Ingredients. We can offer the following to our prospective partners:
The PNPRC can liaise with relevant government agencies & local communities to obtain all necessary permits and agreements for the collection and export of natural products within the island nations that support The University of the South Pacific (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu). The PNPRC’s collection policy adheres to the principles laid out in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol on equitable Access & Benefit Sharing agreements.
The PNPRC can provide all planning and logistical work required to support field work for the collection of natural products throughout the South Pacific. This also includes preliminary taxonomic identification of both marine and terrestrial specimens and the deposition and maintenance of voucher samples in the USP Marine Reference Collection or National Herbarium.
Natural Product Libraries:
The PNPRC maintains growing libraries of diverse high quality natural product extract and pure compound libraries in formats suitable for immediate bioassay and analysis in partner’s bioassays. In addition, we have a large library of living marine microbial strains (Actinomycetes & Fungi) available for fermentation as well as libraries of extracts prepared from small scale fermentation of these strains.
Natural Products Chemistry:
The PNPRC has well equipped natural product and analytical laboratories and can perform natural product extraction services, bioassay-guided purification of active metabolites and the isolation of gram quantities of metabolites required for more in-depth biological testing or to support semi-synthetic programs. We have LC-MS facilities and natural products databases that allow for the rapid discrimination of known compounds.Microbial Services: The PNPRC can perform new marine microbial strain isolation, characterization and preservation. We have facilities to support small scale fermentation and strain and process improvement for yield improvement of bioactive metabolites.
The PNPRC has established in-house bioassays for general toxicity and for identifying extracts/compounds active against drug resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. We can provide extract and compound libraries for bioassay at our partner’s facilities or bring new assays in-house for testing in our facilities. We are especially interested in collaborations aimed at the discovery of potential new drugs for the treatment of Neglected Tropical Diseases.