Scientific Advisory Board
Keeping pace with scientific and technological change

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is an OPCW subsidiary body that enables the Director-General to render specialised advice in science and technology to the Conference, Executive Council, or States Parties to the Convention.

The SAB reports to the Director-General, who submits its reports, alongside his own response, to the Executive Council. Every five years, the SAB prepares a larger report on developments in science and technology  for submission to Review Conferences of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The role of the SAB is to assess and report to the Director-General developments in scientific and technological fields that are relevant to the Convention. On request, the SAB provides advice on technical matters related to the implementation of the Convention, including on co-operation and assistance to the Technical Secretariat.

OPCW Scientific Advisory Board meeting

A Group of Independent Experts

The SAB is made up of 25 independent experts from OPCW Member States. The members serve in a personal capacity (not as representatives of their respective governments) for up to two consecutive three-year terms. The SAB chair and vice-chair are elected annually.

The SAB can also establish and coordinate temporary working groups to draw upon extended expertise for assessment and reporting on specific issues of relevance to the Convention.

Members of the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board 2022

Members of the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board 2022


(as of January 2023)

  • Chairperson: Mr Günter Povoden
  • Vice-chairperson: Dr Andrea Leisewitz

Dr Crister Åstot is currently a research director at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), Dept of CBRN Defence and Security, Umeå, Sweden. He is an expert in chemical analysis of CWAs and is the current manager of the OPCW Designated Laboratory at FOI. His research includes development of methods for chemical attribution profiling (forensic analysis) and analysis of chlorine biomarkers in biomedical samples. He has authored and co-authored many peer-reviewed publications and has a position as an assistant professor at the University of Linköping, Sweden.

Dr Khaldoun Bachari (of Algeria) is the Director- General of the Algerian Public Scientific and Technical Research Centre in The Physico-Chemical-CRAPC, where he also serves as Research Director. Dr Bachari is a member of several national and international panels, including the Permanent Sectorial Committee (PSC) and Inter-Sectorial Committee (ISC)-Sciences Fundamentals-of Scientific Research and High Education Ministry (MESRS) of Algeria, and the labeling National Committee instituted by the Minister for Agriculture; he also chairs the Inter-Sectoral Commission for the Training, Programming and Evaluation of Scientific and Technical Research at the Thematic Research Agency for Nature and Life Sciences of Algeria. Dr Bachari holds 3 Patents and is co-author on more than 100 peer-reviewed international scientific publications and book chapters. Dr Bachari’s research is currently focused on analytical development, organic and inorganic chemistry and the environment. His work has received several national and international awards, including the “Algerian Early Career Researcher Award in Chemistry” in 2012.

Dr Karim Ben Ali (of Tunisia) is currently the director of the technological watch and foresight department in the Tunisian Military Research Center (CRM). His area of expertise includes organic chemistry and the analytical chemistry applied to Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry techniques, but also has extensive expertise in conducting scientific research in several areas such as ballistics and countering Improvised Explosive Devises (IED) and CBRN threats. He has experience in both local scientific activities as well as in international cooperation to include work on chemical mobile labs and decontamination of CWAs within the NATO-Science for Peace and Security (SPS) programme. Dr BEN ALI currently leads a team of scientists in the “Sciences and Technologies for Defense’ (STD) laboratory in the Tunisian Military Research Center. Dr. BEN ALI obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry in 2004 from the University of Paris XI, at the “Institut de Chimie des Substances Naturelles” of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) campus.

Captain Elma Lilia Biscotti (of Argentina) is the Chief of International Agreements at the Scientific and Technical Research Institute for Defense, and an expert advisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of the Ministry of Defense on chemical and biological weapons issues. She holds a degree in biochemistry and in pharmacy, and also is a specialist in evaluation of the environmental contamination and its toxicological risk. Captain Biscotti is member of the Argentine National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention and member of the National Commission for the Control of Sensitive Exports and Military Materiel. Her areas of expertise are implementation of the CWC, chemical and biological weapons non-proliferation measures, and convergence of chemical and biological sciences.

Dr Anne Bossée (of France) is in charge of the synthesis, toxicology and analytical chemistry branch in DGA CBRN Defense, the French military center for CBRN concern. She also manages the French OPCW designated laboratory. She holds an analytical chemistry PhD degree from the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, France. Her areas of expertise include toxin analysis, sampling, detection and identification of CWA and related compounds in environmental and biomedical matrices. She is a former member of SAB temporary working groups on sampling and analysis and Proficiency Tests Scheme. She is co-author of the editing group for Verifin “Recommended Operating Procedures for analysis in the verification of chemical disarmament”.

Professor Vladimir Dimitrov (of Bulgaria) is currently head of scientific group at the Institute of Organic Chemistry at the Centre of Phytochemistry (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences). His area of expertise includes organic and organometallic chemistry in particularly for the development of selective methods for synthesis of biologically relevant compounds and compounds with application in materials science. His research involves isolation and characterisation of natural products from medicinal plants and thee use of these compounds (and those of similar structure) for drug development; nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectrometry are indispensable tools in his scientific activities.

Mr. Raza Ellahi (of Pakistan) is a chemist with over 30 years of experience. At present, he is leading the Chemical Research Centre (CRC) at the Defence Science & Technology Organization (DESTO), Pakistan. He is a recognized expert with the National Authority for implementation of the CWC at a national level. His core area of research is chemical protective sciences to include forensic toxicology, identification of CWAs in environmental & biomedical matrices, and green synthesis of advanced functional materials. He also specializes in development & integration of detection systems. His operational expertise includes field response management including decontamination, threat assessment, and incident response to CWAs. At present he is leading a team of scientists and engineers engaged in the development of nanomaterial-based detection systems for protective measures against toxic effects of CWA’s.

Professor Mostafa Ghanei, MD (of the Islamic Republic of Iran) currently serves as full professor at Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences and as Director-General of the Biotechnology Development Council under the Vice-Presidency of Science and Technology. Born in 1962 at Isfahan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Professor Ghanei graduated as a general practitioner in 1988 from Isfahan University of medical Sciences, became a specialist in pulmonology from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 1997 and was appointed Vice Chancellor in Research at Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences in 1999. His studies focused on victims of chemical injury and he has authored a number of books on the pathophysiology of mustard lung. Professor Ghanei developed the first protocols for diagnosis of chemical injuries and treatment of chronic respiratory complications. According to his specialty, he was invited as a referee to The Hague International Court to clarify chemical war crimes during the Iran-Iraq War. Professor Ghanei became Deputy of Research and Technology of the Ministry of Health at 2009 and General Director of Pasteur institute of Iran at 2011. He has authored more than 260 high impact publications (with an H-index of 32) and acquired the first positions of the 12th and 23rd Razi Medical Research National Festival. Professor Ghanei has been ranked in the top 1% of highly cited researchers.

Dr Norman Govan (of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is Principal Advisor for Hazard Management at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl, Porton Down). He obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) and is a Dstl Research Fellow. He has extensive expertise in conducting research at the interface of scientific disciplines (Chemistry, Biology, Engineering and Mathematics) to develop novel CBR Hazard Mitigation approaches. During the recent nerve-agent incident in Salisbury, he was the lead scientist responsible for planning and executing Recovery operations.

Dr Matteo Guidotti (of Italy) works as Senior Researcher at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Technology Institute “Giulio Natta” (SCITEC) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) in Milan. His research interests include the design, preparation and testing of solid catalysts for the transformation of high added-value chemicals and nanostructured catalysts for the degradation of hazardous chemical and biological materials. He is involved in awareness-raising, dissemination and training activities on chemical aspects related to the protection, prevention, mitigation and defence against chemical, biological and radiological warfare agents. He serves as Key Expert for the EU CBRN Risk Mitigation Centre of Excellence in South-East and Central Asia, Italian delegate in the Division on Chemistry and Environment of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) and Qualified Expert and Trainer for CBRN Defence in Auxiliary Corps of the Italian Army. He is member of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna, the Academy of Sciences of Siena and the Gioenia Academy of Catania.

Dr Catharina Müller-Buschbaum (of Germany) is currently Managing Director at Accenture and the Innovation Lead for Accenture Industry X Service in Europe. Her focus is on digitalisation of engineering and manufacturing across all industry sectors. She gained profound experience in the chemical industry with the global specialty chemicals company Evonik and holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Cologne, Germany.

Mr Wilford Z. Jwalshik (of Nigeria) is the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria; an agency of government saddled with the responsibility of regulating the teaching, learning and standards best practice of the Chemistry profession in Nigeria. His major focus is the repositioning and projecting the Chemistry profession to promote the role of a chemist in addressing global challenges. His specialty is in industrial and analytical chemistry. His passion and interest for the Chemistry profession propelled him to serve as Council Member of the Chemical Society of Nigeria (2013 – 2017) and Member, Governing Council of the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria in 2017. He has also served as the pioneer Head, Research and Head, Catchment Monitoring Units of the Federal Capital Territory Water Corporation Abuja, Nigeria. He is currently a Member of Nigerian Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Chemical Weapons Convention and Member of the National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee (NTHISC) of Nigeria.

Dr Viktor Kholstov (of the Russian Federation) is the Head of the Center for Analytical Studies on Conventions on the Prohibition of Chemical and Biological Weapons at the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, Federal State Unitary Enterprise, “GosNIIOKhT”. He holds a doctorate in chemistry and is an author on more than 250 scientific papers and patents.

Dr Robert Kristovich (of the United States of America) is Chief of the Threat Agent Sciences Division at the United States Army DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center. His expertise is in the chemistry and toxicology of chemical warfare agents and other chemicals of military concern. Included in this experience is the development of inhalational toxicity models utilized for human risk assessment of exposure. During his more than fifteen years of experience, he has functioned as a consultant to various national and international groups on matters involving the defense against use of chemical and biological weapons. 

Dr Andrea Leisewitz (of Chile) is currently the Director of Integrity, Safety and Ethics in Research at the Universidad San Sebastián, Chile, professor at Universidad Santo Tomás (UST) and professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC). She is a scientific adviser to the Chilean National Authority for the Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention and has participated in the elaboration of the national regulation for the CWC and BTWC implementation in Chile. Her expertise is in cellular and molecular biology, good practices in research including research ethics, bioethics, biosafety and biosecurity. Dr Leisewitz holds a doctorate in Cellular and Molecular Biology, has postdoctoral training in pharmacology, a Masters in Innovation and a Masters in Bioethics. From May 2013 to September 2019, Dr Leisewitz directed the Research Ethics, Bioethics, Biosafety, Biosecurity Office at PUC. She has been a member of the PUC’s IACUC (2008-2013) and chair of the same committee (2011-2013), chair of the Institutional Biosafety/ Biosecurity Committee at PUC (2014-2016) and at UST (2019-2021) and Chair of the Advisory Board Member of the PUC Animal Care and Use Program.

Dr Imee Su Martinez (of the Philippines) is a faculty member of the Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD), under the Physical Chemistry Division. She repatriated to the Philippines in 2012 as a recipient of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Balik Scientist (Returning Scientist) Program, and the University of the Philippines-System Balik PhD (Returning PhD) Program. At present, Dr Martinez is also serving UPD as the Director for the Office of International Linkages (OIL Diliman). Her research interest is on surface chemistry, particularly in the characterization and imaging of interfaces and interfacial phenomena. Her current research projects are focused on ionic liquids for carbon-capture applications, sensor development for food safety, phospholipid interfacial formation, nanotechnology safety, and instrumentation development for probing surfaces.

Professor Elisa S. Orth (of Brazil) is a professor at the Federal University of Paraná and leader of the ‘Catalysis and Kinetics’ research group. Her research is focused on organophosphorus chemistry, neutralization and detection processes of agrochemicals and chemical warfare simulants, forensic science, chemical security, molecular design, disaster mitigation, catalysis, functionalization of nanomaterials and renewable resources and green chemistry. Prof. Orth holds several collaborations worldwide, including the Federal Police of Brazil in the area of disaster mitigation. She is an author on numerous articles, patents, and book chapters and has supervised many post-doctoral, graduate and undergraduate students. Prof. Orth is an affiliate member of the Brazilian Academy of Science and deputy-coordinator of the PhD Chemistry Course in her institution. She is also engaged with gender equality and scientific dissemination activities. She was a former member of the directory board of the Brazilian Chemical Society, where she co-founded a dedicated office related to women in science.

Dr Meehir Palit (of India) is currently the Head of the Biomedical Verification Division and the Instrumentation & Product Design Division at the Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE) in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of the Ministry of Defence. In addition, Dr Palit is a technical adviser to the Indian National Authority and other agencies. His area of expertise is in on-site and off-site analysis of chemicals related to the Chemical Weapons Convention in both environmental and biomedical matrices. He also has extensive experience in the synthesis of CWC-scheduled chemicals and is specialised in the development & integration of detectors and detection systems. Previously, Dr Palit was a Senior Analytical Chemist at the OPCW, where he was responsible for coordinating the on-site sampling & analysis, LC-MS support and preparation of proficiency test samples by the OPCW Laboratory. He has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed publications. He received his MS in Analytical Chemistry and PhD in Chemistry from Jiwaji University in India.

Mr Günter Povoden (of Austria) is currently the expert on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) safety and security issues for North Africa, Sahel and the Middle East in the framework of the European Union CBRN Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (EU CBRN CoE) Initiative. Mr. Povoden holds a master degree in chemical engineering. His background is military as the Head of section chemistry at the CBRN Defence Centre of the Austrian Armed Forces. His areas of expertise are CBRN EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), threat assessment and incident response focusing on CBRN terrorism. Mr Povoden provides lectures for raising awareness regarding chemical warfare agents and the Chemical Weapons Convention at the University of Technology in Graz, Austria, and supports trainings, projects, exercises and missions in the framework of the EU, NATO and at national level.

Professor Ines Primožič (of Croatia) is a faculty member of the Department of Chemistry in the Faculty of Science at the University of Zagreb. Her areas of interest include design and syntheses of potential antidotes for organophosphorus poisoning and inhibitors of cholinesterases, organic syntheses of heterocyclic bioactive compounds, and molecular modelling studies of enzyme catalysed reactions.

Professor Syeda Sultana Razia (of Bangladesh) is a faculty member of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). Her areas of interest include diffusive mass transfer and separation processes; process safety; chemical management and security; and zero discharge ETP. Professor Razia serves as an expert for the Government of Bangladesh in policymaking, investigation and selection committees for technological and safety issues of chemical industry, which includes assessing safety and environmental aspects related to chemical industry in Bangladesh. She also leads collaborations between BUET and the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Centre of the Texas A&M University. Professor Razia serves as a resource person to the Bangladesh National Authority of Chemical Weapon Convention, and is a member of Global Advisory Team of Poland based International Center of Chemical Safety and Security (ICCSS).

Dr. Fengxia Sun (of China) is a professor in College of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Engineering, Hebei University of Science and Technology. Her expertise and research interests are involved in chemical engineering, pharmaceutical engineering, and biochemical process. She has more than 20 years practical experience in chemical and pharmaceutical engineering, developing control strategies for manufacturing process implementation and improvement, finding solutions for industrial chemical production, developing green synthesis process for chemicals from laboratory to industrial scales and designing in efficient and safe manufacturing processes. Dr Sun has served as chief scientist, chief technology officer and technical expert in many well-known Chinese pharmaceutical enterprises. She is also a technical adviser to the Chinese National Authority for the Chemical Weapons Convention and has assisted several OPCW Article VI inspections at declared chemical industry facilities in China since 2007.

Dr Yasuo Seto (of Japan) is the Vice President of the National Research Institute of Police Science belonging to the National Police Agency. His areas of expertise include forensic toxicology mainly related to analysis and metabolism of volatile toxic substances (chemical warfare agents, cyanide); on-site countermeasure technology such as field detection of chemical warfare agents and toxins; and decontamination of hazardous materials. Dr Seto took part in the forensic investigations of the Matsumoto and Tokyo subway sarin incidents.

Dr Maciej Sliwakowski (of Poland) is Head of the Analytical Department at the Institute of Industrial Organic Chemistry, Warsaw, Poland. Dr Sliwakowski was a Coordinator of the gas chromatography retention index (GC-RI) Group in the Validation Group for updating the OPCW Analytical Database and co-author and member of the editing group for VERIFIN “Blue-Book”. He is a former member of United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and a former OPCW Senior Analytical Chemist, where he was responsible for coordinating OPCW Proficiency Testing. Dr Sliwakowski has served as technical expert to Polish Delegation at the OPCW, and is a member of the Polish National Escort Team for OPCW Inspections. His areas of expertise are chemical warfare agents (CWA) and Chemical Weapons Convention related chemicals, specifically in areas of: synthesis, sampling and identification, detection systems and laboratory analysis employing spectral techniques.

Dr Nomandla Magnificent Vela (of South Africa) is Chief Scientist at Protechnik Laboratories, where she is responsible for providing technical support to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to ensure maintenance and further development of a defensive capability against chemical and biological weapons. Dr Vela also provides technical support to the South African National Authority responsible for the implementation of, and compliance to obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Dr Vela holds a BSc, BSc-Hons (Chemistry) and MSc degree (Organic chemistry), from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, and a PhD degree in organic chemistry from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.