CBRN Research in Academia on the Rise with the Initiatives of CoHE

March 16, 2021

With the works of the Council of Higher Education (CoHE), the studies on CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear), which has the potential to cause the most destructive disasters of our age due to the technologies developing from the simplest poisoning at homes, have gained momentum at universities and the number of studies and publications has increased.

The second of the workshop in CBRN, which was held for the first time by the Council of Higher Education in 2017, was held on video conference under pandemic conditions last December. The workshop was headed by CoHE President Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç. The relevant representatives from relevant institutions, organizations and higher education institutions with a graduate program in CBRN attended the event.

- Masks, disinfectants and vaccines are also in the areas of interest of CBRN studies.

Although the attacks with biological agents such as nuclear explosions, chemical attacks or destruction of the world with a deadly virus in science fiction movies come to mind when CBRN is mentioned, the meaning of CBRN in academia is much wider. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the material technology, of which protective clothing and masks are made, diagnosis of the virus, and social elimination of the panic created by biological agents also draw attention as fields where efforts to combat CBRN threats can contribute to. Studies in different fields from textile engineers to material engineering, from pharmaceutical and vaccine studies to biotechnology, bioinformatics, and pharmaceutical technologies, are listed among the fields that will be strengthened with CBRN studies.

- CBRN Working Group was established within CoHE

Following the YÖK CBRN Workshop, the "YÖK CBRN Working Group" was established by President Saraç in 2017 within CoHE as there has been a need to increase different R&D studies and high-quality human resources in this field. In addition to academics from the fields of basic sciences, engineering sciences and medicine, the representatives of relevant institutions such as the Ministry of Health, AFAD, TUBITAK, and TAEK were also included in the YÖK CBRN Working Group. Meetings were also held with the officials of the Ministry of National Defence.

After the priority fields of Turkey were determined under the “New CoHE” concept, the field of CBRN was also included in the agendas of universities for the first time in efforts to increase the skilled labor force.

YÖK CBRN Working Group, which has been carrying works under the coordination of CoHE Executive Board Member Prof. Zeliha Koçak Tufan, has pioneered the opening of graduate programs at universities since 2017, contributed to the preparation of the curricula of the relevant programs, and made evaluations and site visits.

The CBRN Working Group collected the presentations and studies of the representatives of relevant institutions and academics who participated in both workshops in a book. The book includes universities, the studies of institutions such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of National Defense, TUBITAK, AFAD and TENMAK/NDK and organizations such as Aselsan and Havelsan in the field of CBRN.

- The number of scholarship holders doing doctoral studies in CBRN and related fields increased to 414

The field of CBRN was included in the YÖK 100/2000 PhD Project to eliminate the shortage of academics in the fields needed by the country. In addition, the fields of protective medical equipment and biosecurity in the field of CBRN, which are also included in the Research Scholarship for Doctoral Studies Abroad (YUDAB), were included in the special call for the pandemic.

The number of scholarship holders who do doctoral studies in CBRN and related fields under the YÖK 100/2000 PhD Scholarship Project increased to 414, including 35 in vaccines, 8 in biosecurity, 71 in biotechnology, 3 in personal protective equipment, 6 in epidemiology, 34 in pharmaceutical biotechnology and drug design, 28 in food biotechnology, 37 in drug research, 9 in clinical pharmacy, 17 in protective medical supplies, 102 in molecular pharmacology and drug research, 27 in nanobiotechnology-guided drugs, 9 in nuclear energy, 3 in nuclear physics, 9 in defense informatics, modeling and simulation, 1 in defense systems integration and 15 in defense technologies.

On the other hand, a proposal prepared after the meetings with the Interuniversity Board was discussed in the General Assembly of CoHE and the field of medical CBRN was accepted as a field of associate professorship for the first time.

- Increase in CBRN awareness in the academia

Apart from the graduate programs opened by CoHE at four universities, the proposals of universities for CBRN were also evaluated. CBRN courses were started to be offered in some undergraduate and graduate programs.

While there were 6 projects, 2 papers, 2 articles and 2 theses related to the keyword of CBRN in 2016 at YÖK Academia, 113 papers, 11 articles, 3 books and 15 theses were written specifically in the field of CBRN by 2020. CBRN studies and awareness have also been reflected in related fields. In this context, academic studies in this field continue as hundreds of students receive education in fields such as emergency and disaster management, nuclear technology and radiation safety, and biotechnology.

CoHE prioritizes and considers it important to bring the opportunities for educational and training processes, the infrastructures of research centers and the potential of trained human resources together under the umbrella of CBRN at universities. To this end, CoHE will continue to work on developing institutional structures that are determined about CBRN at universities.


Source: AA