Areas of Research
- Biomaterials for medical applications
- Biomaterials for agricultural applications
- Biomaterials for soil and water remediation
Plants, fungi, animals and bacteria produce biopolymers that can be applied in many contexts within biotechnology, with applications in medicine, agriculture, as well as in soil and water bioremediation. In medicine, applications range from surgical materials to materials that reduce the possibility of producing biofilms to drug application systems. In this sense, the synthesis of nanomaterials is a cutting-edge area for improving diagnostic systems and targeting drugs to their site of action.
Agriculture benefits from pesticide administration systems, water retention, among others. Finally, the development of biomaterials for the remediation of contaminated soil and water ecosystems will allow to establish, on the one hand, the levels of contamination present through the bioavailability of the contaminant, as well as to identify the most toxic pollution agents for flora and fauna. of the place. Finally, the implementation of biomaterials for remediation can help in the recovery of ecosystems contaminated by anthropogenic action at low contamination levels according to regulations.
- Biomechanics and Orthopedics
- Telemedicine, Medical Bioinformatics and Clinical Artificial Intelligence.
- Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
- COVID-19 investigations
- Biomaterials for medical use
- Biomaterials for agricultural applications
- Biomaterials for soil and water remediation
Biomedicine has emerged from an interdisciplinary specialization that seeks to bridge the gap between engineering and medicine, combining the design and problem-solving skills of engineering with the medical biological sciences to advance healthcare treatment, including diagnosis, monitoring and therapy. Research in Biomedical Engineering has a clear orientation towards the development of new techniques and products with direct application in the fields of Medicine and Human Health. From the synthesis of new biomaterials to the design and manufacture of prostheses and diagnostic medical equipment such as biosensors, passing through the new cutting-edge medical technologies such as Nanomedicine and Artificial Intelligence, without forgetting the contribution of new epidemiological prospecting methods, constitute areas of innovation with great potential in 21st century health care. With the COVID-19 pandemic, several research needs were created. It is necessary to understand its epidemiology, study viral load patterns in patients, determine the distribution of predominant varieties in Zone 1 and find possible drugs for its treatment.
- Molecular biology of plants
- In vitro toxicology
Cellular and molecular biology, immunotherapy and antibody production, and pharmacobiology, to help create a national industry that discovers new active ingredients for medicines, vaccines, and much-needed medical diagnoses for the Ecuadorian population. Rapid advances in cell biology using eukaryotic cells, hybrid plus, stem cells, and specialized tissue cultures will provide not only fundamental insights into health and disease, but will also offer the tools and knowledge for such an important biopharmaceutical sector to the health system. Study of human, animal and plant infections, aimed at addressing medical and public health problems, as well as the prevention and control of both human diseases and those that afflict livestock and crops. The School will lead research efforts to understand the genetic and epigenetic bases of organism development and response to biotic and abiotic stresses that will establish the basis for the development of new biotechnologies to improve important Ecuadorian exports, such as shrimp, bananas, cocoa and flowers, and develop new agricultural and nutritional products in Ecuador. We also aim to lead endemic plant and crop genome sequencing efforts that will aid in future breeding programs and provide important insights into the basic evolution and function of organisms.
- Microalgae and their applications
- Ecology of marine and lacustrine environments
- Automation of water quality parameters
Marine biology, aquaculture and algae biotechnology. This will be of direct interest to improve industries relevant to Ecuador, such as shrimp and tilapia, and to develop new aquaculture products, eg. Novel nutritional supplements from algae and plants. In addition, algae biomass will be exploited for the evaluation of biofuel-grade lipids and nanostructured materials. The development and implementation of “in situ” instrumentation to monitor the water quality of culture ponds will allow establishing the best production parameters (24 according to the production conditions) as well as helping to predict production in each cycle. Basic understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics, anthropogenic impacts (e.g. plastic pollution), and evolution directly influence studies of iconic habitats, such as the Galapagos Islands, in close cooperation with the School of Earth Sciences, Energy and Environment, with direct impact on both conservation biology and ecotourism. Biomass conversion, biorefinery and bioenergy, a key research area within the new circular bioeconomy that is important for a clean environment along with a sustainable energy future and food security in Ecuador. The lignocellulose in plant cell walls represents by far the largest renewable organic raw material on Earth and can be exploited on non-arable land to give rise to entirely new biochemical, material, and green energy industries that will progressively replace those of fossil origin. In addition, other biomass sources such as agri-food residues and algae (including Pacific Coast seaweed) will be evaluated through the biorefinery concept for the production of biofuels, platform chemicals and high-value ingredients. A major effort will be made to link biomass valuation to primary food production.
- Biodiversity and community structure
- Biogeography and phylogenetics
- Conservation biology
- Identification of sentinel species
- Evolutionary and functional ecology
- Ecosystem services (see also School of Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Sciences)
- Agroecology and native crops (see also School of Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Sciences)
With 20% of Ecuador’s megadiverse territory within the National System of Protected Areas (SNAP in Spanish), the conservation of biodiversity and the ecological processes that depend on it is a priority for Ecuador. The School will contribute to the description of this vast biodiversity and will develop ecological and biogeographical studies that help protect native species, with an emphasis on endemic and threatened species, and native species of social or economic interest, including those that have been domesticated. The identification of native sentinel or biosensor species of each region of the country will allow to establish variations in ecological habitats, which may be correlated with natural impacts and/or anthropogenic actions for the taking of conservation measures. The School will work on ex situ, in situ or in situ conservation programs, including reforestation and ecological restoration strategies. The Yachay Botanical Garden, which will be operated by qualified infrastructure and research personnel, will actively collaborate in these conservation projects. Evolutionary and functional ecology will be the link between genetics and its application in the conservation of species and the ecosystem services they provide. These services not only make our life and existence as a species and civilization possible, but also support many productive activities, both in agricultural and urban areas.
- General microbiology
- Microbial ecology
Development of specific antimicrobial strategies for agriculture and aquaculture, such as biological control approaches for the control of pests and diseases of crops and livestock. Specific biotechnologies to remove contaminants from the soil, air and water, in order to contribute to the control of the quality of agricultural production in Ecuador. Management of microbial resources for the development of products based on live microorganisms (prebiotics and egg products) and production of compounds and molecules in massive cultures of microorganisms. Microbial ecosystems, symbiosis, and nutrient cycles. Study and application of cutting-edge technologies such as genetics, genomics, metagenomics, bioinformatics, biotechnology and others to contribute to technological development in Ecuador. Human and plant infections, to address public health and medical problems, ranging from clean water and soil to new epidemics such as the Zika virus, as well as preventing crop and livestock losses. The concept of microbial resource management (or MRM) will be the guiding principle in research that runs the range from ecological understanding and biotechnological mitigation of oil pollution in soils and aquifers to the role of microbial in global change.