The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) is a growing phenomenon. Located in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, RGCB began in 1990 amongst humble surroundings as a small charitable society called the Centre for Development of Education, Science and Technology (C-DEST). In 1991, recognizing its potential, the C-DEST was made a "Grant-in-Aid" institute of the Government of Kerala and renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Development of Education, Science and Technology (RGC-DEST), becoming the first institute in the country to be named after Sri Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minster of India. On April 18, 1994 the Government of Kerala took a landmark decision to restructure the institute into a comprehensive biotechnology center and thus was created the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology. The institute was first managed by the Government of Kerala's Committee for Science and Technology and Environment (STEC) and subsequently by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. The foundation stone for the new building was laid on November 18, 1995 by the then Prime Minister of India, Sri. Narasimha Rao. Exactly seven years later, on November 18, 2002 the then President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam dedicated the comprehensive center to the nation. Under the guidance of the founding director, Dr M. Ramachandra Das and his successor Dr R.V. Thampan, RGCB rapidly grew in stature, infrastructure and research output. It had now also become apparent that the resources available to RGCB from the state government could not match the strides of progress the institute was making. Kerala's political leadership displayed its maturity and vision, with three successive Chief Ministers, Mr. E.K. Nayanar, Mr. A.K Antony and Mr. Oommen Chandy persisting with the Union government to develop RGCB into a national centre. By now the institute had also attained national and international recognition with leading discoveries and findings in medical and plant biotechnology.
On February 28, 2006 while presenting the Union Budget to Parliament, The Honorable Union Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram announced, "If agriculture is an ancient Indian skill, biotechnology is the new frontier that India will conquer. In order to foster research and development in biotechnology, the Ministry of Science and Technology has decided t o accord the status of an autonomous National Institute to the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala".
This was one of the greatest acknowledgements that any research
center in India can get. RGCB had clearly stood up to the trust,
confidence and faith put in it by the Government and people of Kerala as
well as the Department of Biotechnology that had unflinchingly supported
the center through research grants for almost a decade.Our long awaited
tryst with destiny became a reality on August 2, 2007 when the Union
Council of Ministers chaired by the Honorable Prime Minister approved
the take over of RGCB from April 1, 2007. Addressing a press conference
on the same day, Mr. Kapil Sibal, Honorable Union Minister for Science,
Technology and Ocean Development thanked the Government of Kerala for
allowing the Union government to develop RGCB into an institute of
international standards. He went on to outline future plans for the
institute including state of the art programs in cancer research
emerging viral infections and nano-biotechnology.
The reincarnation of RGCB as a national institute and its subsequent development has allowed a redefining of its research and development programs. Our research programs are now designed clusters of investigations on the central theme of Disease Biology. This framework includes basic and applied programs in human disease, animal disease and plant disease. All RGCB research programs can now be designated to three program themes: Chronic Disease Biology, Tropical Disease Biology and Disease Biotechnology. Centered in these three programs are state of the art discovery research programs in Cancer Research, Cardiovascular & Diabetes Biology, Pathogen Biology, Neurobiology& Genetics, Chemical and Environment Biology, Reproductive Biology and Plant Disease Biology & Biotechnology.
The excellent performance of RGCB over the years following it becoming a national institute won recognition with a Rupees 100 Crore grant to build a Bio-Innovation Center. The Kerala State Government responded by very graciously transferring to RGCB 20 acres of prime land in the city. The Bio-Innovation Center will be a unique knowledge center and hub for mid and high level innovation founded on deep and advanced level technical platforms, multidisciplinary cores that will seed growth and innovation. The processes to begin construction of this complex are underway. The Foundation Stone for the new building was laid by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the then National Advisory Council to the Government of India along with the Honorable Union Minister for Science & Technology, Mr. Jaipal Reddy.
RGCB currently functions from three campuses. The main campus is located at Jagathy in Thiruvananthapuram where the bulk of our discovery research programs are implemented. The second campus located at the KINFRA Park in Thiruvananthapuram functions as the transit facility for the Bio-Innovation Center where RGCB's core Bio-Imaging, Genomics and Laboratory Medicine & Molecular Diagnostic core facilities are located in addition to laboratories for Chemical Biology, and Tropical Disease Biology. The third campus located in Kalamaserry, Kochi is called the Bio-Nest, a setting for translational biotechnology, including expert and high technology resources for potential clients and customers, platforms for productive and sustainable partnerships with biotechnology, life science, medical and pharmaceutical industry besides opportunities for consultancy, contract research and commercialization of potential products.
RGCB is thus all set to also make its mark as a key player in translation of biotechnology to knowledge economy.We are now all set to move at warp speed. Our horizons are clear and paths well defined. We will fulfill our task of contributing to making India a knowledge power in biotechnology. Our commitment to the state of Kerala continues with even greater dedication. In addition to providing the judiciary and criminal justice systems with DNA fingerprinting & DNA Barcoding services, RGCB provides state of the art molecular diagnostics for viral diseases, cancer markers and risk markers for cardiovascular and genetic-diseases.
RGCB will thus reflect the future of Indian Biotechnology and Health research