New Delhi, Sept. 16: India hopes to intensify foreign collaborative research in fundamental and applied biology through science pacts that an academic hub for biological research in Bangalore will sign this week with a Japanese organisation and Cambridge University.
The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, signed an agreement today to expand academic connections and for exchange of research staff with Riken, a giant Japanese institute pursuing research in the natural sciences.
The pact, proposed by Riken, follows nearly a decade of links between individual scientists in the two institutions and is intended to facilitate a two-way exchange of scholars working towards PhD degrees and post-doctoral research scholars.
The NCBS and its associated institutions and Riken will seek to expand their collaborative networks across biology and related areas in chemistry, physics and materials sciences.
“Riken is looking for talented Indian scholars,” Satyajit Mayor, the director of NCBS told The Telegraph. “While Riken could emerge as a destination for our scholars, we also expect to host young Japanese scientists with shared research interests.”
While scientists from both sets of institutions are expected to pick specific projects for joint research, Mayor said, the broad areas will be on cell and development biology as well as stem cells with the long-term goal of regenerating or replacing damaged tissues or organs.
Riken has also signed similar pacts with the Indian Institute of Science and the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore for student exchange programmes.
“Our own research covers multiple disciplines — we’d like to use India’s strengths in inter-disciplinary research across physics, chemistry and biology,” Ryoji Noyori, the president of Riken who had won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2001, said after signing the pacts with NCBS.
The agreement that NCBS expects to sign with Cambridge University tomorrow will also help create a joint post-doctoral fellows programme and make operational a proposed Centre for Chemical Biology and Therapeutics (CCBT), a joint initiative between the two institutions.
The CCBT is expected to generate new knowledge about human diseases by combining information from cell biology, chemistry, and genetics. Krishnaswamy Vijayaraghavan, India’s biotechnology secretary, said the CCBT’s long-term vision was to use new insights into disease biology to design new therapies.
The new initiative builds on an earlier agreement under which cancer biologist Ashok Venkitaraman at Cambridge University proposed the joint research centre that would be funded by India’s department of biotechnology.