Chiang Mai, Thailand
3-6 February, 1987
The Fourth Meeting of the Asian Co-ordinating Group for Chemistry (ACGC IV) which was held at the Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand during the period 3-6 February 1987, was graced by the presence of Professor Dr. HRH Princess Chulabhorn who opened the meeting and then delivered the First ACGC Plenary Lecture entitled"Chemistry and Development"
The Agenda for ACGC IV is given in Attachment 1 and the names and addressed of Participants and Observers are listed in Attachment 2.
Apologies were received from Dr. D.G. Blight of the International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP), Dr. Rune Liminga of the International Seminar in Chemistry and Dr. D. A. Blackburn of the International Technological University. A. copy of Dr. Blackburn's paper entitled "The International Technological University" is given in Attachment 3.
The business session began when the Convenor of ACGC, Dr. J. V. Kingston of UNESCO, reported on the results and activities arising from the previous meetings and these are recorded in Attachment 4. The summary of the report on ACGC IV is reproduced in Attachment 5 and an advance copy of a paper entitled "Chemistry for Development" by Dr. Kingston, forms Attachment 6.
The meeting then considered the matters arising from ACGC III and developments since that time These concerned:
(a) Technician Training
- Mr. R. J. A. Bradley described the NCEA/UNESCO International Symposium on Technician Education and Training help in Dublin, Ireland during 18-22 August 1986 He also reported the formation of an ad hoc International Committee to follow up recommendations of the Symposium. Mr. Bradley will keep ACGC informed of future developments through UNESCO. The Proceedings of the NCEA/UNESCO International Symposium on Technician Education and Training have now been published and copies are available from Mr. Bradiey.
- Dr. J. Douer spoke about the on-going programmes of the British Council concerning technician training in Sri Lanka and plans to hold a Workshop on Instrument Maintenance there during 1987. Dr. Douek's paper is included as Attachment 7.
(b) Instrument Maintenance
Apart from the work of Dr. Douek mentioned above, three other projects have been undertaken.
- Dr. J. Webb of the Asian Network for Analytical and Inorganic Chemistry (ANAIC) reported on two workshops held in Thailand and the Philippines. The senior technicians for these workshops were provided by Murdoch University and The University of Western Australia. Workshop manuals were donated by the International Development Program of Australian Universities and Colleges (IDP). Workshop participants included technicians and junior academic staff, this arrangement proved satisfactory and will continue. The next Work shop is planned for Indonesia. Dr. Webb's report is included Attachment 8.
- Mr. A. J. Littler of the Crystallography Centre at The University of Western Australia visited the Prince of Songkla University in Thailand in order to commission an X-ray generator and Weissenberg camera, during December 1986. Mr. Littler's visit was supported by the Development Assistance Committee of The University of Western Australia and the Network for the Chemistry of Biologically Important Natural Products.
- Dr. Lennart Prage of the International Foundation for Science(IFS) tabled the report the had prepared on the ''Procurement, Operation and Maintenance of Scientific Equipment in Developing Countries". The second edition of this comprehensive report is included as Attachment 9. This deals with a proposal to improve services to IFS grantees and repair scientific instruments in the region. The possibility of extending these services by arranging visits by technicians is also under consideration by IFS.
(c) Programme for Locally-Produced Equipment
- Professor K. V. Sane reported on the joint IDRC/UNESCO/ANAIC programme agreed upon at ACGC III, A copy of this report is included as Attachment 10. The first Workshop in this programme took place in Thailand during October 1986 and the follow-up Workshop will be help in October 1987 using prototypes designed by Thai chemists. The Philippines Workshop is being prepared and will take place during January 1988. Planning for the Indonesian Workshop is not yet under way.
Professor Sane then gave further details of the work taking place in Delhi. The number of prototypes has now been expanded to include a range of colour imetric and UV/VIS spectroscopic equipment. The visible spectrophotometer designed by the Royal School for Educational Studies in Copenhagen, Demmark, is also undergoing modification in the Delhi laboratories. In addition, Professor Sane informed the meeting that, through the good offices of the Network for the Chemistry of Biologically Important Natural Products, the prototype of a locally-produced atomic absorption spectrometer had been transferred from the South Australian Institute of Technology to Delhi.
- Mr. R. J. A. Bradley offered to explore the possibility of constructing a locally-produced X. Y. recorder to complement available spectroscopic equipment. He also volunteered to arrange for professional evaluation of the equipment produced by the Delhi group. This evaluation could be carried out within the regional college system of the National Council for Educational Awards in Ireland.
- Professor A. N. Rao, Secretary of the Asian Network for Biological Sciences (ANBS), representing the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) also expressed interest in cooperating in this programme.
(d) Special Programme for Nepal
At ACGC III it was decided to encourage chemists in Asia to help their colleagues in Nepal The activities proposed and in progress are:
- Professor W. C. Taylor will visit Nepal in April 1987 to act as a research advisor in organic chemistry
- The locally-produced equipment programme is organizing a Workshop in February 1987.
- In March 1987 SCAMAP will sponsor a Workshop-Training Course on High Altitude Natural Products.
- At the request of Dr. S. B. Malla, ACGC will explore the possibility of providing assistance in toxicological testing in a second Asian country.
(e) Reports from Networks
- The Regional Network for the Chemistry of Natural Products in Southeast Asia
Professor Byung Hoon Han gave a verbal report on the activities of the Regional Network for the Chemistry of Natural Products in Southeast Asia and tabled copies (Volume 9 No.3 and volume 10 Nos. 1,2 and 3) of the Network Newsletter "Chemistry in Asia". Copies of these publications are available from Professor Han.
- The South and Central Asian Network for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ASOMPS)
Professor S. B. Malla gave a verbal report on SCAMAP and tabled the latest issue (December 1985) of the SCAMAP Newsletter. A copy of this publication is available from Dr. Malla.
- The Network for the Chemistry of Biologically Important Natural Products
Dr. J. R. Cannon spoke about the activities of the Network for the Chemistry of Biologically Important Natural Products during 1986. A copy of Dr.Cannon's review of the activities of Chemistry Networks in Southeast Asia forms Attachment 2.
- The Asian Network for Analytical and Inorganic Chemistry
Part of the activities of the Asian Network for Analytical and Inorganic Chemistry (ANNAIC) have been recorded by Dr. J. Webb. Dr. M. Mohinder Singh also reported on the progress of the ANAIC analytical standardization programme involving Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- The Asian Network for Biological Sciences
Apart from expressing interest in the programme for Locally-Produced Equipment Professor A. N. Rao expressed interest in the possible involvement of the Asian Network for Biological Sciences in the Sixth Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants and Spices (ASOMPS VI). Professor Rao also agreed to explore the possibility of arranging a meeting of botanical taxonomists who are active in Southeast Asia, in cooperation with the Network for the Chemistry of Biologically Important Natural Products.
- The Federation of Asian Chemical Societies
Dr. M. Mohinder Singh led a discussion on journals, newsletters and information services and made several proposals concerning an Asia-wide publication which would include all branches of chemistry while at the same time encouraging the dissemination of news by the individual Networks.
Dr. Singh also made a strong case for the preparation of a Regional Union Catalogue of Periodicals in Analytical Chemistry and an Analytical Chemistry Periodical Index for the region which would list research papers published and the names of the authors and the journals in which their papers are published. Dr. Singh's paper appears as Attachment 12.
- The International Foundation for Science
Apart from his remarks concerning the problems associated with instrument maintenance Dr. Lennart Prage reported that since 1974 the international Foundation for Science has supported 206 scientists, the majority of them chemists, from development countries to carry out research on natural products. The greater part of this work has been concerned with research on medicinal plants.
The international Foundation for Science is now exploring the possibility of expanding into new areas of research which are relevant to the needs of developing countries. These areas could include projects in analytical, environmental and synthetic chemistry. The Proposal will be submitted to the General assembly of the international Foundation for Science towards the end of 1987.
The meeting then turned its attention to the following on-going programmes:
(f) Support Services for Network
- Dr. J. R. Canon reported that working group in Asia now had access to state-of-the-art spectroscopic and other analytical services free of charge. He also described the programme which is being developed for biological screening, following the initiatives taken at ACGC III and noted that this programme should expand considerably during 1987. Dr. Canon agreed to provide a comprehensive report on these services to ACGC V.
- A list of the basic chemicals held for teaching and research at the University of Western Australia was tabled by Dr. Cannon. The meeting considered that, after minor modifications, such a collection of chemicals would enable regional Universities to establish and maintain undergraduate teaching in Chemistry, as well as a broad range of research activities. The modified list now appears as Attachment 13.
(g) The Training Programme for Chemical Entrepreneurs
- The Bombay group has continued to expand its activities and its services to chemical industries, and is in the process of acquiring a site suitable for a chemical park. A paper entitled "National Entreprenurs's Chemical park- Background and Status Report" by Dr. R. Kulkarni, is included as Attachment 14.
It is planned that the Chemical Park will have training facilities for chemists from outside India and the University/ Industry Interaction Programme has arranged for chemists from Bangladesh, as well as from Srilanka, to be in included. It is hoped to include chemists from Nepal at a later stage. It is also hoped that this programme will complement the programme on analytical standardization which has been set up for the same three countries.
- Dr. R. Kulkarni expressed interest in the possibility of manufacturing some of the chemicals listed by Dr. J.R. Cannon. While ACGC IV was in progress, Dr. Kulkarni produced the paper entitled "Proposed Laboratory Chemicals Entrepreneurship Promotion Project" which is include as Attachment 15.
In the final session of ACGC IV, the participants discussed plans and priorities for future activities. In addition to the priorities already established at ACGC III, viz: technician training, instrument maintenance, locally-produced equipment, analytical services and the special programme for Nepal, it was decided to press for the provision of an information service. It was also decided to accelerate the locally-produced equipment programme.
In addition, in view of the success of the Thai National Programme for X-ray Crystallography held in December 1985, it was decided to encourage a proposal to hold a workship in X-ray Crystallography at the University of Western Australia following the International Union of Crystallography XIV Congress in August 1987. This workshop would involve X-ray Crystallographers from Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand and would seek to establish the methods for the solution and refinement of X-ray crystal structures in regional laboratories.
On the final afternoon the participants accepted an invitation from Dr. Duang Buddhasukh to visit Chiang Mai University This Provided an excellent opportunity to obtain first hand knowledge of the facilities available and the projects in progress at the Department of Chemistry, the Fast Neutron Facility and the Equipment Maintenance Unit.
Before the meeting concluded, the participants expressed their thanks to Dr. Pichaet Wiriyachitra for organizing the ACGC IV meeting and accepted with gratitude the kind invitation of Dr. R. Kulkarni to hold ACGC V in Bombay, early in 1988.