MRIN-UPH and Eijkman signed a partnership agreement for the whole genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus.

Mochtar Riady Institute for Nanotechnology-Universitas Pelita Harapan (“MRIN-UPH”) officially signed a partnership agreement with the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology (“Eijkman”), a research institution under Indonesia’s Ministry of Research and Technology on Thursday, April 29, 2021. The collaboration between Eijkman and MRIN-UPH involves Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is responsible for Covid-19. MRIN-UPH became the first private research institution to cooperate with Eijkman in the WGS SARS-CoV-2 project.

This agreement was signed by Prof. dr. Irawan Yusuf, Ph.D., President of Mochtar Riady Nanotechnology Institute and Prof. dr. David H. Muljono, Sp.PD., FINASIM, Ph.D., Deputy Head of Eijkman Institute, with Dr. rer. nat. Ivet Suriapranata, Head of MRIN-UPH’s Research Division, and Drh. Safarina G. Malik, M.S., Ph.D., Chief Secretary of Eijkman Institute, as witnesses.

“The collaboration between MRIN-UPH and Eijkman provides a good platform for the exchange of ideas and knowledge transfer. Both institutions bring unique added value. Eijkman has advanced facilities and many personnel, while MRIN-UPH has a widespread network across Indonesia as it is a part of the Lippo Health and Medical Group alongside UPH’s Faculty of Medicine and Siloam Hospital. This network enables MRIN-UPH to gain access to samples from various regions in Indonesia,” explains Prof. Irawan.

Dr. Ivet adds that this partnership expands MRIN-UPH’s contribution in mapping the SARS-CoV-2 genome: “Previously, MRIN-UPH has only done partial genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2. By working with Eijkman, we can conduct WGS, which is useful to map mutations in the variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is responsible for COVID-19 in Indonesia. During this collaboration, MRIN-UPH will select samples that meet the criteria of patient profiles or Cycle Threshold (CT) scores. These samples will then be sequenced at Eijkman. Once the data is complete, it will be reported to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), where it is made accessible to the public.”

Furthermore, Dr. Safarina mentions that this joint WGS SARS-CoV-2 project will be divided into two phases: “In the first phase, MRIN-UPH will supply reagents to study 100 samples that Eijkman will sequence. The WGS data from these 100 samples will be sent to GISAID. In the second phase, MRIN-UPH will regularly send samples to Eijkman, to help meet the government’s target of sending WGS data from 5,000 samples to GISAID this year.”

Dr. Ina recognized that this WGS SARS-CoV-2 research partnership was the first of its kind and created a new way of collaboration between Eijkman and other research institutions, especially institutions outside Java. She hopes that this partnership can increase Indonesia’s genome surveillance capabilities, which will allow the country to quickly detect anomalies in COVID-19 cases and capture new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

What’s more, according to Prof. dr. Herawati Sudoyo, M.Sc., Ph.D. (Prof. Hera), Deputy of Eijkman Institute’s Fundamental Research Division, the partnership with MRIN-UPH also involves studying patients’ response towards the pathogen: “Aside from studying the pathogen itself, we are working with MRIN-UPH to study the clinical symptoms experienced by patients, because individuals might respond differently to the disease.”

Through this collaboration, MRIN-UPH strengthens its commitment to the advancement of scientific research. In order to carry out this partnership, MRIN-UPH needs expert human resources. Hence, for those of you who aspire to become researchers in the field of biotechnology or medicine, join the Medicine or Biotechnology Program of Study at UPH. Register here and contact the Student Consultant 0811-1709-901 for more information.