Dr. Harsh Vardhan Visits the National Centre for Cell Science

Dr. Harsh Vardhan Visits the National Centre for Cell Science 

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, visited the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), an autonomous institute funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, on 3rd February, 2016. He was accompanied by Shri Jayant Sahasrabuddhe, National Organising Secretary,Vijnanabharati. Dr. Arvind Duggal, Adviser, DBT, was also present on this occasion.

The Minister toured the Microbial Culture Collection (MCC), the third largest facility of such a kind in the world. While acknowledging the expanded efforts made by MCC in exploring and preserving the rich microbial biodiversity of India, he stated that that the facility should carry out more focussed research in one or two areas.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan asked for a comprehensive plan to be presented to DBT and the Ministry of Science and Technology, outlining a road map for carrying out such focused research and for sharing the cutting-edge facilities available at MCC. The Director of NCCS, Dr. Shekhar Mande briefed the Minister about the several contributions made by NCCS in the national
interest and some of the new initiatives planned such as establishing an induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) bank, development of patient-derived cell lines from the Indian  population and mapping of the human gut micro-biome of the Indian population.

The Minister noted that since its inception in1988, NCCS has been at the forefront of cutting-edge research indiverseareas of modern cell biology, especially those addressing paramount issues
related to human health, such as cancer, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, infectious diseases and regenerative medicine
. He was especially pleased to learn that NCCS has not only been actively engaged in productive basic research, but has also been contributing towards the betterment of society through other means, such as by generating high-quality human resources through its educational and training programmes, transferring its technologies to public hospitals and through outreach activities.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan later visited some of the laboratories of NCCS and the animal cell repository of NCCS, where he interacted with the scientists, students and staff. During his visit to this national facility, he acknowledged the enormity of the task of supplying cell lines to many institutions across the country.

In a motivating concluding address, the Minister expressed deep faith in the potential of the scientists at NCCS and inviting especially the young talent of NCCS to take the lead in
boldly carrying out innovative research and promoting science for the
benefit of the society.

India Signs an Agreement to Become an Associate Member State of European Molecular Biology Organisation 

India through the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology signed a Cooperation Agreement to acquire the status of the Associate Member State European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).  This would strengthen scientific interaction and collaborative research between India and Europe in this field. After the signing of an agreement with Singapore by EMBC in July 2015, India will now become second such country outside the European region.

EMBO is an organization of more than 1700 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences. The major goals of the organization are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information. The movement was started in 1964 as European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) and subsequently it got intergovernmental funding.  More information on the organisation is atwww.embo.org

With this India as an EMBC Associate Member State, researchers working in India are now eligible to participate in all EMBO programmes and activities. Indian scientists can apply to EMBO’s programmes, such as long-term fellowships for postdoctoral researchers, short-term fellowships, courses and workshops, as well as the EMBO Young InvestigatorProgramme. At the same time, Europe will benefit from networking with the top-level scientists in India’s research community.

The official kick-off launch ceremony of the agreement was held in New Delhi, India today (4 February 2016). Scientific presentations were made by Nobel Laureates Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Ada E. Yonath to mark the occasion.

To mark the occasion, Professor Maria Leptin, Director of EMBO said - “For the past five years, we have been promoting international interactions beyond Europe, and India is one of our prime partners. I am extremely pleased that India is going to be an Associate Member of EMBC and I look forward to India being able to access EMBO activities.Many European researchers have established scientific connections in India. No doubt these will be strengthened further once more tools and formal opportunities for interactions are available.”

Professor K. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) for the Government of India, who signed the agreement: “India is rapidly growing into a position where we are making extraordinary demands on ourselves. India can only succeed if we partner with the best everywhere to bring the best here.” He added: “Through EMBO, we will not only have the excellent joint programmes that benefit India and Europe, but we hope to be a magnet that attracts bright young people to science from in- and outside India.” 

Professor Gerrit van Meer, President of the EMBC, remarked: “All member states welcome the exchange with Indian scientists that this agreement will bring. We look forward to seeing transcontinental projects spanning India and Europe grow in future.”

An EMBO-led delegation of ten researchers is in India now to visit various institutes across the country and meet with Indian scientists and government representatives.

This newly forged cooperation will build upon already existing links between Indian and European scientists. In 2015, 10 Indian postdoctoral researchers received an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship to work in Europe and eight India-based scientists received the EMBO Short-Term Fellowship. A satellite symposium focusing on research in India has been an integral part of the annual conference The EMBO Meeting.

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