The future prosperity of Thai agro-industries will depend a great deal upon our strength in the science of biotechnology. Our goal is the development of a sustainable agro-industry based on primary plant and animal products. Biotechnology can help us reach this goal through improved primary production and through improved production of existing or novel secondary products based on the primary output. Biotechnology is a multidisciplinary field that requires a wide range of knowledge in biology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, genetic engineering and biochemical engineering. Since all of this knowledge is rare in any one individual overall success in biotechnology requires good co-operation amongst individual specialists in various fields.
Based on the proven strengths of the Science Faculty in pure science, the Department of Biotechnology at Mahidol University grew up as a unique multidisciplinary center to promote the application of basic knowledge in science. The Department began its Bachelor program in 1982 and its Master and Ph.D. programs in 1992 and 1996, respectively. To date, many students have graduated and joined in the effort to develop our country as employees in government and private organizations involved in production, quality control, quality assurance, research and development of agro-industy.
The Department curriculum comprises all the necessary basic science and applied science courses for a multidisciplinary center (e.g., Agricultural Biotechnology, Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering, Food Biotechnology, Molecular and Medical Biotechnology). The program also includes industrial training, senior projects and theses in biotechnology fields.
In addition to providing quality graduates, the Department is an important research center which emphasises recent applications of biotechnology in areas relevant to Thai development. Some examples are listed below.
- Recombinant DNA development of new microbial strains or plant cell cultures combined with the latest sophisticated control of fermentation processes for industrial production of enzymes, antibiotics, vaccines, amino acids, organic acids and polysaccharides. Some of this work involves collaborative pilot scales studies with industrial partners interested in development of commercial production.
- Development of DNA probes for pathogenic bacteria.
- Combined use of cell manipulation and tissue culture techniques to develop new plant varieties resistant to microbial or insect attack.
- Solutions to environmental problems by production of bacterial-based biopesticides, biosurfactants, and microbes for bioremediation of oil spills.
- Production of microbial protein and probiotics for animal feeds using Thai agricultural products.
- Improvement of microorganisms and processes for production of high quality traditional fermented foods.
- Solution of production and environmental problems in shrimp aquaculture through biotechnology.
The Department also offers a range of consulting and training services to government and industry. Seminars, workshops and conferences are arranged to assist Thai and regional scientists in improving their skills and share knowledge at the local and international level.
All of these successful activities are successful performed in a conducive environment equipped with all of the necessary technical facilities including both computing and laboratory equipments which have been financially supported by the University, the private sector and government agencies such as the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC) and the Thailand Research Fund (TRF).
Our present and future goal is to carry out world class research and provide world class training to meet the need for Thailand to successfully compete internationally in the field of biotechnology.