The overall goal of the School of Biological Sciences and Engineering is to achieve world renown in scholarly research, innovative teaching and community outreach in the life sciences and in the technologies based upon them. The School’s research and education programs span molecules to ecosystems. As such, they seek to improve human health, well-being and quality of life by addressing major societal challenges such as food, energy, materials, medicines and water for a growing global population, in ways that ensure the long-term sustainability of our planet’s ecosystems. Ecuador is a most biodiverse country both in its terrestrial and in its marine ecosystems. This richness will be a special focus and a unique resource for world-class research activities in the School of Biological Sciences and Engineering. At the same time, the School is intent on exploiting the major current methodological and conceptual breakthroughs in systems biology and ‘omics’ in order to both advance the basic understanding of organisms and ecosystems as well as create wealth from the circular bio-economy. The School of Biological Sciences and Engineering consists of the basic science department of Biology and an applied department of Biomedical Engineering, the latter being the first of its kind in Ecuador. The School´s field of action is aimed at research and industrial, business and technological innovation. It endeavors to solve significant problems in the domains of health, organisms and ecosystems by being grounded firmly in biology’s sub-disciplines such as genetics, ecology, botany, microbiology and biochemistry, while embracing the cutting-edge holistic approaches of systems biology and ‘omics’. The planned Golden Helix Ecuadorian Genomics Center will focus on human, animal, plant and microbial genomic discovery for basic biological and also applied bioengineering research of relevance to Ecuador and beyond. Interdisciplinary UBRCs (University-Based Research Centers), e.g. focused on Biomedicine, Bioenergy, Marine Sciences and Environment will complement the School’s own activities. In addition, the School is forging alliances with public research institutes, other national and international universities and private industry in order to change the productive matrix of the country and the region from an extractive economy to a sustainable, knowledge-based economy.
In the end of the second decade of the 21st century, the Life Sciences are evolving rapidly and they carry a tremendous potential by integrating research advances across different scales (from molecules and metabolic networks to cells and tissues to whole organisms to populations and ecosystems) and by interacting with other fields like Engineering, Informatics/Computer Science, Physics and, last but not least, Chemistry. Moreover, some of the greatest current advances, as in the “-omics” revolution (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc), are driven by technological breakthroughs such as ultra-rapid high-throughput sequencing, microfluidics, etc. This means that there is a more and more intimate mutual influence between basic Biology (biochemistry, genetics, evolution, etc) and Biotechnology/Bioengineering. In these exciting times for Biology and Biotechnology/Bioengineering Yachay Tech can aim for excellence by being strategically selective on a few, carefully chosen areas of research with local and regional economic relevance and strong growth potential which, at the same time, reflect more general societal needs. In sum, the School’s vision involves a commitment to excellence in the human capital that will staff it and an indefatigable team effort to seamlessly integrate teaching, research and service, appropriate to the creation of knowledge for a sustainable society.