IOCD began by recognising why it has been so difficult to pursue chemistry and related sciences in low- and
middle-income countries (LMICs) in the past. By the 1980s, many chemists from LMICs had been, or were being,
trained in research in universities in high-income countries, but found it difficult to engage in productive and
rewarding careers in research in the growing number of university chemistry departments in their home countries.
Common problems included lack of access to funds, laboratory supplies and equipment and difficulty in staying
abreast of the latest advances in their fields. IOCD's initial response was a twin track approach of active
research support and capacity building, achieved through the operation of its scientific working groups (WGs)
and analytical service centres.
Impact Of IOCD
Overall, the impact of IOCD has been to help highlight the importance of the chemical sciences as
contributors to development; to raise the profile of the field and its practitioners; to initiate, promote or
sustain a number of technical, managerial, policy and collaborative networks and projects advancing chemical
sciences in LMICs; and to contribute to vital resources for teaching, learning and research.
IOCD has a strong record of achievement in its first 30 years:
- As the first international NGO specifically devoted to enhancing the role of the chemical sciences in
development, IOCD helped raise awareness of the importance of the field at national and international
levels and the profile of chemists and their contributions to development in LMICs. This was aided by
success in attracting prominent chemists to IOCD's cause, including the Presidents (two Nobel
laureates), Council (included four additional Nobel laureates) and WG leaders and members.
- The early work by the Male Fertility Regulation and Tropical Diseases WGs was valued by international
partners (including the two World Health Organization Special Programmes for research in fertility
regulation and tropical diseases; UN Population Fund, Walter Reed Army Institute; and USA CONRAD
programme) and helped raise awareness of these neglected areas while providing LMIC synthesis groups
opportunities to undertake medicinal chemistry.
- The later WGs in the areas of medicinal chemistry, natural products, the environment and bioprospecting
made important contributions to training, capacity building and networking, attracting support and
collaboration from international agencies such as the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
(IUPAC) and from the private sector. The work to enhance LMIC capacities and develop national frameworks
for sustainable, ethical bioprospecting has impacted on policy making.
- IOCD's analytical services gave essential support to many chemists striving to conduct isolation,
structure elucidation and synthesis work in resource-poor settings. Successful localization as NABSA
(Network for Analytical and Bioassay Services in Africa) has ensured that national and regional work is
being sustained in service provision and in capacity building at individual, institutional and system
- Contributions have been made to strengthening teaching capacities through the creation and dissemination
of web-based open and distance learning materials in organic and medicinal chemistry, donations of books
and computers and support for micro-scale laboratory kits which enable science to be taught where
resources and chemical supplies are very limited.