Our International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups Program for Panama ("ICBG") has the goal of linking drug discovery from rainforest plants with biodiversity conservation. Our plant collections are driven by "ecological insight". That is, we use the results of decades of ecological research to guide us to plants that are most likely to have medicinal compounds.
ICBG places a large emphasis on collaboration, training and technology-transfer to Panamanian scientific institutions.
Working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Panama and the Ministry of Health, plant extracts are tested for activity against HIV, leishmaniasis, Trypanosoma cruzi, malaria, and cancers of the breast, lung, and central nervous system. These efforts provide the basis for a long-term and productive Panama-based drug discovery program.
To effectively link our program to biodiversity conservation, we worked through a local foundation, Fundación Natura, to create an environmental trust fund that will receive the largest share of any revenues associated with the discovery of a novel medicine. Fundación Natura supports non-governmental organizations and community organizations throughout Panama that carry out projects that promote biodiversity conservation.