Jakarta – BRIN Public Relations. Since 1 September 2021, 5 main research entities in Indonesia, i.e., BATAN, LAPAN, LIPI, BPPT, and the Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN have been integrated into the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN). This integration also includes the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology (LBM), which has been under the Ministry of Research and Technology. Head of BRIN, Laksana Tri Handoko in an interview with MNC, Monday (03/01) emphasized that the integration of Eijkman LBM into BRIN will strengthen development of Covid-19 vaccine.

He explained that the joining of Eijkman LBM to BRIN, which is now BRIN’s Eijkman Molecular Biology Research Center (PRBM), will actually strengthen the development of Covid-19 vaccines, as well as services, such as surveillance of Covid-19 variant mutations based on Whole Genome Sequencing.

He said that the Covid-19 vaccine is also developed by LIPI, which has now been integrated into BRIN. Hence, the integration of Eijkman LBM into BRIN will strengthen the development of Covid-19 vaccine.

“Moreover, in the near future, some researchers from the Research and Development center of the Ministry of Health will also join BRIN. This will further strengthen the development of Covid-19 vaccine,” he said.

In more detail, Handoko said, LBM Eijkman is not an official government institution, but only one of project units under the Ministry of Research and Technology, which has been in operation for almost 30 years since 1992. The integration of the Ministry of Research and Technology into BRIN means also institutionalizing LBM Eijkman into PRBM Eijkman under the auspices of BRIN.

“It is one of my priorities to institutionalize this Eijkman. This has been a problem since the beginning, and I don’t want it to pass on to the next one,” he said.

He also clarified that BRIN has never suspended researchers. According to him, when LBM Eijkman was a project unit at the Ministry of Research and Technology, researcher civil servants at LBM Eijkman could not be researchers.

“When they were at LBM Eijkman, they (research civil servants) were the same as administrative staff. They could never get financial rights, for example as researchers. Now, with this institutional integration, I can immediately do that, and that’s what I have done. Most of Eijkman’s civil servants, who are researchers, have been appointed as functional officers of BRIN researchers,” he said.

Handoko also emphasized that this integration does not interfere with cooperation with other parties, because BRIN currently has many cooperation schemes that will attract other parties, both from the industry and fellow research institutions, both at home and abroad.

“We don’t just want to get a third-party project and then we do it. We have a strong budget to be able to support collaborative research projects, both nationally and internationally,” he explained.

Regarding the issue of political interference in BRIN’s policy, Handoko firmly denied it. As the highest leader in BRIN, he sees from a technocratic aspect, how he should manage this research institution and as soon as possible repair and strengthen the research and innovation ecosystem, not only at BRIN, but in Indonesia as a whole.

“Research is a global competition. If the critical mass is low, in terms of human resources, budget, and infrastructure, how can you compete? By consolidating into BRIN, our critical mass immediately rises. I can support any research now without many problems,” he concluded. (tnt/ ed: drs).