Updated on 21 December 2012
"I came to this position when there was a shift from being a funding and implementing agency to become a research institute. This means that we are now continuously looking for funding for our research while trying to keep our focus on what is important for the country. Thailand, at the moment, is in a changing phase and industry is getting more interested in biotechnology. The difficult part that I have been doing is to gear people to get ready for the industry while pursuing scientific excellence," pointed out Dr Kirtikara.
For her, the turning point in her life has been the shift from being a scientist to being an administrator. "It requires different skills and is certainly a major transition. I now have the opportunity to understand the needs of the country and have a broader view. I do not get to go back to do research due to lack of time, but I certainly attend lab meetings to give suggestions, and go to regular meetings with scientists. That is the only way I keep updated with the latest in the science field," she added.
One of the major challenges that Dr Kirtikara has to deal with is that the budget has not been increasing for the NSTDA. The government's spending on R&D is at the moment 0.25 percent of the GDP and the government is aiming to increase it to one percent. Dr Kirtikara said, "We have a lot of new people with lot of capabilities. These young bloods who are returning to Thailand have to be kept stimulated and focused on science. This is one of the challenges that I face, to be a buffer between the problems at the top and to keep these young scientists engaged."
Dr Kirtikara said she is lucky to have good mentors by her side. Dr Malee Suwana-adth, associate professor Sakarindr Bhumiratana and professor Morakot Tanticharoen, former directors of BIOTEC, are strong supporters of her work. "They showed me how to keep a balance between management and scientists. Because they started out as researchers themselves, they know what the challenges are and how to balance between good science and its application," she said.
With three more years remaining in her present tenure, Dr Kirtikara hopes to return to the lab. "I am not worried about BIOTEC. We have had good leaders and the way we are moving forward is quite balanced. The next generation will do even better," she added.