Networking Friday with BioCaribe, Colombia

a Research Center for the Study of the Biodiversity from the Colombian Caribbean

On November 19th, 2021, 1-2 PM UTC, we will know more about the world’s most irreplacable nature reserve: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and National Park. Jesus Olivero Verbel, Full Professor at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Cartagena, Colombia will talk about Biodiversity and the BioCaribe Research Center, which main objective is to study bacteria and plants from Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to discover new antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer molecules.

Sierra Nevada is the world’s highest coastal mountain range. “The area stretches from the Caribbean coast with a finely preserved coral reef, extensive beaches, several bays and inlets up to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta with marked relief and steep slopes. Independent of the Andean chain, it rises to a height of 5,775 meters above sea level, at a distance of only 42 km from the Caribbean coast. The snowy peaks called ’tundra‘ are considered sacred. Vegetation ranges from sub-hygrophyte to snow levels and includes cloud forest and high barren plains. Three types of vegetation can be seen at Tayrona’s National Park: forest/matorral with dry forest and humid forest. Some of them are being modified by peasants engaged in agriculture and cattle grazing, and also extraction of high-value timber, especially in the coffee belt. Of the estimated population of 211,000 (1999) some 26,500 indigenous peoples, particularly the Arhuaco, Kogui and Wiwa live in indigenous reserves, but also a considerable number live outside these areas. Ethnic groups try to develop a policy for the recovery of their ancestral lands in order to strengthen their culture and assist their traditional conservation practices (UNESCO).”


Jesus Olivero Verbel

Jesus is a Full Professor at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Cartagena, Cartagena, Colombia. He has a B.Sc. Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Cartagena; a M.Sc. Chemistry. Industrial University of Santander, Bucaramanga, Colombia; a Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Toxicology-Environmental Toxicology, Michigan State University. Lansing, MI, USA; a Post-Doctoral training at Michigan State University (The Role of AhR in inflammation); and a Post-Doctoral training at Helmholtz Zentrum Für Infektionsforschung. Braunschweig. Germany.


  • Founded the Master’s Degree in Environmental Sciences (2006), as well as the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Cartagena (2009). This last is the only one on the subject in Colombia and one of the few in LatinAmerica.
  • Menthored (graduated) more than 20 Masters and 13 Ph.Ds in Environmental Toxicology and Biomedical Sciences. Former and graduate students have been mostly female, with representation of several ethnic minority groups of Colombia, including African Americans and Indigenous people.
  • Based on research on lead poisoning in children conducted in my lab, wrote the first draft of the Law, revised different versions, and appeared at the Colombian Congress to support the Law 2041, July 27, 2020, through which the right of people to develop physically and intellectually in a lead-free environment is guaranteed, setting limits for its content in products marketed in the country, and other provisions are issued.
  • Visited, together with my students, remote indigenous communities living in the Colombian Amazon, collected and analyzed samples, and published results showing that these indigenous people are highly exposed to mercury through fish consumption. This research is promoting diverse initiatives to decrease mercury intake in these vulnerable populations and control illegal mining.
  • The research carried out in the Department (state) of Choco was used by the Constitutional Court of Colombia (the final appellate court for matters involving interpretation of the Constitution, with the power to determine the constitutionality of laws, acts, and statutes) to declare the Atrato River as a subject of rights. Read more about here and here. This has been an extremely important acomplishment for the protection of one of the most important biodiversity hot spots in the world.
  • Together with my graduated student Diana Montes conceived the idea of creating EDCs DataBank and ECCs Data Bank, two databases with three-dimensional structures for virtual screening that are available for free, both aimed to serve as a tool to develop computer aided studies that helps to understand the mechanisms of action of endocrine disruptors in the development of several diseases and their potential health risks. These databases are regularly accessed from many countries around the world.
  • Ordered by a Judge of the Republic of Colombia, developed a methodology to estimate the costs associated with the environmental damage generated by a pesticide factory back in 1989. Thanks to this work, the City of Cartagena received 5 million dollars from the company to develop programs aimed to restore impacted ecosystems in Cartagena Bay.
  • Carried out research on different subjects, including Toxicology, Ecotoxicology, Chemistry, Computational Toxicology, Microbiology, Epidemiology, and Parasitology, among other fields, and published more than 180 papers in peer reviewed journals, such as Environmental Health Perspectives, Environment International, Toxicology, Environmental Research, Environmental Pollution, The Science of the Total Environment, European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Genes and Cancer, Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Toxicology Letters, Chemical Research in Toxicology, among others. My H-Index is currently 43 (7620 citations), and his publication record can be viewed at the Google-Scholar webpage.

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