While biotechnology applications play crucial roles in ensuring food security, alleviating poverty, sustainable development, disease management, socioeconomic upliftment, and creation of employment opportunities, a host of problems beset public perception of biotechnology. These include bad press, misinformation and fear-mongering. There is a strong need to engage the public with credible, accurate and science-based information that is packaged in an appealing and relevant format for the public. Science literacy among the public is important to make evidence-based decisions on foods and nutrition, healthcare, environment management and healthy lifestyle choices.
In the age of gene technology, digitalisation and industry revolution, we need more youth trained in STEM, who are keen to pursue careers in these areas. This is important for nation building to solve the global challenges of today and tomorrow. The 21st century skills such as problem solving, analytic thinking, gathering and evaluating information and data are crucial and these skills are developed in STEM disciplines. However, developing talent in STEM areas is a growing global challenge as countries are seeing a decline in interest among students to pursue STEM education. At MABIC, we realise it is necessary to expose students to the fascinating world of STEM to increase the number of STEM students in schools and universities.
Many applications of modern biotechnology are highly regulated such as genetic modification, gene-editing, and gene drive. In the fields of medical biotechnology, drug development, stem cell and gene therapies, and cloning are subjected to regulations. To realise the full potential of modern biotechnology, the benefits and risks of modern biotechnology must be assessed based on science and evidence. It is critical for lawmakers, policymakers, regulators and scientists to have a strong understanding of the technologies and international legal instruments to develop enabling policies and regulations.
Science communication is a relatively new field in the developing world and rigorous capacity building is needed to develop a cadre of scientists who are able to effectively engage with the public and other key stakeholders. Given the complexity of the subject and the heterogeneity of the target audience, science communication training and academic programmes are MABIC’s priority areas.
MABIC plays a pivotal role in offering internship placement for Malaysian undergraduates in biological and life sciences fields. Interns are exposed to the biotechnology network, industries, policies and regulations. Enhancement of soft skills is a priority at MABIC to ensure our interns are ready to enter the competitive working world. Science communication is another area of importance where interns get hands-on training on translating research into popular science articles.
Undergraduates from both public and private universities, including universities outside Malaysia have served as interns at MABIC. MABIC welcomes any students who wish to have a taste of a career in biotechnology and science communication. We are also open to mass communication and journalism students.