Professor Vichai Reutrakul - Head of regional host laboratory

Meet Professor Vichai  Reutrakul from Department of Chemistry, Mahidol University – the first regional host laboratory for south-south collaboration in the ISP chemistry program.

Professor Vichai Reutrakul is the Director of the Center of Excellence for Innovation in Chemistry  in Thailand - a chemistry consortium consisting of 13 universities members aiming to strengthening the science and technology capability of Thailand in the field of chemical and pharmaceutical sciences. In addition, Professor Reutrakul also functions as advisor to the Royal Golden Jubilee PhD Program of the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), scientific advisor (SAC member) to the International Foundation for Science (IFS) and is the current deputy chairman of the Office of the Higher Education Commission (OHEC) in Thailand.   

The Department of Chemistry at Mahidol University, where Professor Reutrakul is active, has functioned as a host laboratory for regional ISP fellows and students during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Already at this time the laboratory in natural products chemistry at Mahidol University was very well developed and well suited to receive students and fellows from other countries in Asia. This laboratory was the first to receive regional students and fellows in the ISP chemistry collaborations, and have received many visitors from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka over the years.

The south-south collaboration has, following this successful example, stayed an important component of ISP’s operation. The regional host laboratories do not receive any direct funding from ISP, the money they received are earmarked for the visiting students, and the laboratory use their own facilities, time and resources to host the regional students. 

- Why we did it? Because I thought it would be very useful for other countries. I saw what IPICS was doing and we also wanted to do something good for other people. There is also a lot of satisfaction to see students develop their professional careers.

Today the laboratory at Mahidol University still collaborates with the chemistry research groups at University of Dhaka in Bangladesh through providing them with instruments, receiving students, and through joint research projects.

The Center of Excellence continues to prosper and has just received large government funding to continue for another five years. This funding includes support for fellowships, and large infrastructure and equipment purchases. One of the mandates of the center is to collaborate with the industry, something that they are very successful in.

- We have many examples of collaboration with industry. I have a patent on the development of a cancer drug which was developed in collaboration with the German drug company Asta Medica. It is a new class of drugs that has not yet reached the market. We also work a lot with local companies. We have developed the quality testing procedures for a local food company, and we have developed three natural cosmetics products for a local cosmetic company.

Professor Reutrakul at the opening of the 16:th Royal Golden Jubilee PhD Program Congress in June 2015, together with the Minister of Science and Technology (fourth from the left). Picture source: Ministry of Science and Technology

October 2015