On June 27th, World Microbiome Day Professor Chandrabhas Narayana, Director of RGCB (DBT, Govt. of India) released the first copy of the Book on Human Microbiome: Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Interventions Edited by Dr. Sabu Thomas and team- Drs. Aparna Shankar, Lekshmi N, Karthika S & Ms. Merin Paul, in the presence of Dr. T.R. Santhosh Kumar (Dean) and Mr. S. Mohanan Nair (Chief Controller).
27th June is celebrated as world microbiome day. The
Theme for World Microbiome Day 2022 is "Celebration of The
Microbial World" (https://worldmicrobiomeday.com/). On this
occasion Dr. Sabu Thomas, Scientist F, RGCB wrote an editorial to
create awareness in the general public.
'Gau Mitra' app is developed by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology with the grant in aid support from DST, Govt. of India under its SHRI program. This app is intended to help farmers to identify primary health problems in cattle and their treatment based on Ethno-veterinary practices. The formal launching of the app was held at Paramoola Kurichya Tharavad, Peechamkode, Wayanad by Prof. Chandrabhas Narayana, Director RGCB on 8th May 2022. The tribal farmer Shri Balan received the logo of the app 'Gau Mitra' app can be downloaded from Playstore. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.rgcb.app). Dr. Archana S, Manager, Veterinary services, RGCB explained the usage of the App to the Farmers during the meeting.
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Ethno-veterinary practice (EVP) by plant species has been utilized for centuries as a primary source of prevention and control of livestock diseases. The knowledge, skills, methods, practices and beliefs of botanicals have been chaotic, semi formalized and transferred vocally among various ethnic communities for traditional animal health care. The day-to-day practices of traditional knowledge revolve around the remarkable innovations of new herbal formulations that become an integral part of ethno-veterinary management among farmers. Many livestock owners in Kerala, who are poor and live in remote areas, use Ethno-veterinary Medicine (EVM) for the primary health care (as a first aid) of their animals.
To promote the ethno veterinary medicine among dairy farmers RGCB's tribal heritage project team conducted extensive field survey and documented ethno veterinary practices of various tribal communities in Idukki and Wayanad districts. From the documented ethno veterinary medicine we selected 16 major diseases that affecting livestock and conducted rapid assessment of different traditional treatments and identified most effective traditional remedies for the treatment of these diseases. Mobile application is available in both English and Malayalam. Cow information, health condition assistant, herb and raw drug finder are the 3 major modules present in mobile application. Symptoms of each disease were prepared with the assistance of a veterinary doctor. In this application dairy farmers can choose a list of common symptoms. Then system will provide appropriate health condition based on selected symptoms. System will also provide details of ethno veterinary treatments used for that particular disease. It includes image of herbs or raw drug used for Ethno veterinary medicine, method of preparation, dosage and method of administration. 'Gau mithra' is available in playstore/ Appstore. Dairy farmers can download and use this mobile application for cattle disease identification and treatment.
Professor Mamannamana Vijayan, the doyen of crystallography research in India passed away today. He was born in Cherpu, Thrissur district of Kerala on 16 October 1941. He completed his studies at Kerala Varma College and Allahabad University. He then joined IISc Bangalore for his Ph.D. program in X-ray crystallography under the guidance of Professor MA Viswamitra. He joined the laboratory of Nobel laureate Dr. Dorothy Hodgkin at the University of Oxford. During his stay at Oxford, he has involved in the landmark paper describing the structure of insulin, which was published in nature in the year 1960. Later in 1971 and joined the Molecular Biophysics Unit of IISc and continued there to date. Undoubtedly he established protein crystallography research in India. His major areas of research were structural studies involving lectins, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and other mycobacterial proteins. His studies have opened up several avenues for structure-based inhibitor design. He has been the President of the Indian Biophysical Society, Indian National Science Academy, and founder President of the Indian Crystallographic Association. He is a member of all the three science academies in India. He received numerous awards in his career including the SS Bhatnagar award, the first GN Ramachandran Medal by INSA, Distinguished Alumni Award by IISc, Ranbaxy Research Award, Kerala Sastra Puraskaram, etc. The Government of India conferred him with Padma Shri in the year 2004. He was closely associated with KSCSTE and Kerala Biotechnology Commission and was involved in formulating the Kerala Biotechnology policy. His autobiography "A Life among Men, Women, and Molecules: Memoirs of an Indian Scientist" was published by INSA in 2020. Professor Vijayan associated with several capacities at RGCB since its beginning. His untimely demise leaves a large void in the field of Indian Science and Protein crystallography. The Director, faculties, and staff of RGCB express their great gratitude to Professor M Vijayan expresses deep sadness and sorrow for his demise and conveys deep gratitude to the bereaved family.
Dr. Malini Laloraya gets the first DBT supported the project in the country on creating patient-derived endometrial organoids to use them as a tool to understand "Recurrent Implantation Failure" as embryo implantation is defined as the black box of human reproduction and is a major challenge for clinicians: 12-04-2022
Dr. Malini Laloraya, Scientist G, Molecular Reproduction Division of RGCB gets the first DBT supported the project in the country on creating patient-derived endometrial organoids to use them as a tool to understand "Recurrent Implantation Failure" as embryo implantation is defined as the black box of human reproduction and is a major challenge for clinicians.
Dr.S.Asha Nair Scientist F, Cancer Research Program, RGCB has been selected to be the "mentor" for the prestigious Biotechnology Ignition Grant (BIG) provided by DBT-BIRAC awarded to BioDimensions Technology Private Limited
A family of harmful bacteria that causes diseases like TB and leprosy has become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, and the alarming situation warrants novel strategies to control evolution of drug resistance in mycobacteria, says a study by Dr. Krishna Kurthkoti, a scientist and researcher at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB). The study, published in Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy, reveals that application of antibiotics results in a two-phase killing of bacteria, with a significant part of the population being killed rapidly while a smaller sub-population of bacteria called ‘persister’ endures the antibiotic and persist in the environment for extended periods. The persisters also get killed because they remain susceptible to antibiotics, but the killing rate is much slower. Non-compliance with the duration of antibiotic therapy results in a relapse of infection caused by the persisters. Recent reports also suggest that antibiotic persisters (APs) of mycobacteria develop resistance upon treatment with lethal doses of ciprofloxacin or rifampicin.
The research conducted in the laboratory of Dr Krishna demonstrated that the persister population of M. smegmatis generated by antibiotic treatment showed high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which consequently resulted in the rapid emergence of drug resistance to single and multiple antibiotics. Strategies to tackle drug-resistant strains include identification of new antibiotics or targeting the bacterial mechanisms that reduce the rate of evolution of resistance. “We took the second approach as identifying new and potent antibacterial antibiotics takes time and should pass rigorous safety standards before using human therapy,” said Dr Kurthkoti. The study tested the efficacy of Suramin, a WHO-approved drug used for treating Trypanasomal (sleeping sickness and river blindness) infections. It showed that a combination of Suramin during antibiotic therapy reduced the emergence rate of drug resistance in M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis under laboratory conditions. Since Suramin is already an approved drug, its repurposing to control the emergence of drug resistance would increase the life expectancy of existing drugs providing valuable time to develop and approve new antibiotics. RGCB director Dr Chandrabhas Narayana said it is a significant study as it highlights suramin's novel application as a broad-spectrum agent in combating the development of drug resistance. It will bring into focus the need to discover new antibiotics to counter the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which has become a major global health concern compelling the WHO to declare that the crisis needs immediate attention. A group of six virulent and drug-resistant pathogens, Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter spp (ESKAPE), have been identified as the biggest threat to public health. In a recent report published in Lancet, 1.27 million deaths were directly linked to AMR bacteria, significantly more than the deaths caused by HIV/AIDS or malaria. Also, TB caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis continues to be a leading cause of death, with nearly a million cases dying annually. To complicate matters, the emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) strains resistant to frontline drugs isoniazid and rifampicin makes the course of treatment much longer. According to the WHO report on TB, India adds the maximum number of reported cases (around 2.5 million) and 124,000 cases of MDR TB. With the Central Government taking an aggressive policy to control TB, developing new therapeutics and understanding the mechanisms that cause drug resistance in mycobacteria become necessary.
Researchers at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB)
here have identified Cyclophilin A, a protein which is a known
player in several human diseases, as a potential drug target for
reducing risk of heart disease in patients with diabetes. Heart
attacks result from rupture of cholesterol plaque deposited on
walls of arteries. A tear or rupture in the plaque would activate
a repairing mechanism resulting in a blood clot. Such clots can
completely block blood flow to the heart muscle and cause a heart
"Patients with diabetes mellitus have increased risk of vascular disease and are prone to ruptures. Our research has shown that Cyclophilin A plays a major role in increasing the risk," Dr. Surya Ramachandran, a program scientist with the Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes Biology lab, RGCB, said in a press release here on Sunday.
Inhibitors of Cyclophilin A would have potential use in reducing the vulnerability to heart attacks due to plaque rupture, she said, adding: "It is also being developed as a clinical serological marker of detecting vascular inflammation in patients with diabetes".
RGCB Director Prof. Chandrabhas Narayana said the research findings with regard to the role played by Cyclophilin will provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying cardiovascular diseases. "It will help in risk detection and development of novel pharmacological therapies," he pointed out.
The findings of the research were recently published in Cells, an international, peer-reviewed, open access, Journal of cell biology. "The protein Cyclophilin A impairs the process of prompt and efficient clearance of cells that have been programmed to die, resulting in rapid progression of plaque formation in patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus," said Dr. Ramachandran, explaining the science behind their research. The clearance of dead cells and debris is critical for inflammation resolution in patients with cardiovascular risks.
Just like leaves that fall off a tree when they die, cells in human body are also programmed for death and the process is known as apoptosis, derived from a Latin word which means 'to fall off', she said.
As in the case of every death, the dead cells need to be taken to their graves. The dying cells express 'eat-me' signals on their surface to attract macrophages, a type of white blood cell that removes dead cells. Cyclophilin A can induce programmed cell death of macrophages, which interferes with the natural process of burying of dead cells.
Globally, drug research on cyclophilin inhibitors and clinical trials have confirmed their treatment utility in cancer, viral infections and neurodegeneration. "Our research findings are significant since it can lead to reduction of the risk of heart disease in patients with diabetes," Dr Ramachandran said.
Dr. Pradeep Kumar G, Scientist G, Reproduction Biology Program, awarded Prof. G. P. Talwar Gold Medal Award - 2022. The award will be conferred during the forthcoming International Conference on Reproductive Healthcare & 32nd Annual Meeting of the Indian Society for the Study of Reproduction and Fertility (ISSRF-2022) scheduled to be held during 11th - 13th February 2022, virtually.
Dr. Malini Laloraya, Scientist G, Reproduction Biology Program, selected for Prof.P.Govindarajulu Gold Medal Oration 2020. The award will be conferred during the forthcoming annual meeting of the Society for Reproductive Biology and Comparative Endocrinology (SRBCE), to be held from 28th to 30th December 2021 at Mysore.
In a path-breaking genetic study that could significantly reduce the risk of organ rejection and other medical complications, scientists of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here have formulated a method to predict the optimal dose of an immunosuppressant drug given to kidney transplant patients.
The dose prediction study was focused on the immunosuppressant drug tacrolimus, which is given to a kidney, heart or liver transplant patient to lower the body's immunity and thereby considerably reducing the chances of organ rejection.
For maximum effectiveness, the drug level has to be maintained at an optimum concentration in the blood, especially during the initial period after transplantation.
Dr. Radhakrishnan Nair and Dr. Lekshmy Srinivas of the Division of Laboratory Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics, RGCB, conducted the pharmacogenetic study involving patients who have undergone kidney transplantation at the Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, and those who received tacrolimus as their immunosuppressant. They studied the effect of the genes and their variants which are involved in determining the drug concentrations in patients' blood.
"We developed an equation/technique that can be used by nephrologists to predict the starting dose of tacrolimus, which has to be administered to patients to attain optimal drug level in the initial period after the surgery, based on their genetic profiles," Dr. Radhakrishnan Nair said.
"This equation is specific to patients from Kerala who undergo kidney transplantation. The molecular-based method uses testing the DNA of patients for a specific variation, before transplantation surgery," Dr. Lekshmy Srinivas added.
This variation, along with their body weight, can be used to calculate the optimal starting drug dose for the patient. It will help the patients achieve optimal Tacrolimus levels post-transplantation and thus prevent the adverse effects due to overdose and rejection.
At present, the dose is calculated based on the patient's body weight. This approach can lead to a lot of variations in the drug levels.
To attain this, blood levels have to be closely monitored and drug doses adjusted, as lower levels can lead to rejection of the transplanted kidney, while higher levels can lead to undesired medical complications. Not only is this trial-and-error method of dose adjustment time-consuming and costly, but it also causes a lot of complications among the patients "Though there have been similar studies in other populations before, the predictive value of pharmacogenetic factors identified were insufficient and not much of clinical use. The new development would help prevent the adverse effects of overdose and thereby help a lot of patients," said Prof. Chandrabhas Narayana, Director, RGCB.
The pioneering study was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Noble Gracious of the Department of Nephrology, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram. The group also discovered the genetic variants which increases the chances of rejection and adverse effects associated with the drug.
The research, which has the potential to save lives of kidney transplant patients significantly, was jointly funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), and RGCB and was published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.
A vaccine testing and research facility for a host of ailments, including cancers and infectious diseases, will be set up on the second campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) here, Union Minister of State (Independent charge) for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh announced on Friday. Addressing the annual general body meeting of the RGCB held in New Delhi, he said the centre would be equipped with a BSL 3 facility for handling airborne viruses, including the one that spawned the COVID-19 pandemic. The facility would be the first of its kind in southern India. The second campus of the RGCB, to be named as "Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection," is expected to be ready for dedication to the nation in the next few months. The campus is coming up at Akkulam in the city. Dr. Singh, who is also the president of the RGCB Society, said the RGCB would be developed as a hub for research and testing of multiple vaccines such as cancer vaccine and those for infectious diseases, including COVID-19. The Minister lauded the RGCB's model of supporting both innovative research and biotechnology incubation facility. RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana explained the new facilities that would be created on the new campus. He said the centre would have cutting edge technologies, therapies, clinical trials for cancer vaccines, and immune therapeutics. It would also have facilities for therapies such as stem cell replacement, gene therapy, molecular tumour, targeting, and imaging. Rajesh S. Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Vishvajit Sahay, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, DBT, Sunil Kumar, Joint Secretary, DBT, Sundeep Sarin, Scientific Coordinator for RGCB at DBT, and Shekhar C. Mande, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, were among those attended the meeting.
The country must acknowledge the role of scientists who worked against the odds imposed during the two centuries of English rule that focussed on de-nationalising India more than colonizing it, National organizing secretary of Vijnana Bharati, Jayant Sahasrabudhe said here on Sunday. History has largely neglected the contributions of scientists towards the freedom struggle since the 1757 Battle of Plassey that gave the British East India Company a decisive victory in the subcontinent, till 1947 when the country earned Independence, he said, while delivering the 'Sir C V Raman lecture' at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB). "Those scientists strived to regain the identity of India from the hands of the invaders," Mr. Sahasrabudhe noted in his speech on 'Freedom Struggle and Science' organized on the occasion of the 133rd birthday of physicist Dr C.V. Raman. "We stand on their shoulders in our continuing efforts towards progress," he said. At the function coinciding with the 75th year of the country's Independence, Mr. Sahasrabudhe noted how the patriotic fervour exhibited by several scientists in imperial India added to the spirit of the nationalist movement. "The British implemented scientific studies in India primarily as a tool to consolidate their rule. They belittled our culture, reiterated that Sanskrit was a dead language that promoted superstitions through its literature centred around mythology," he said. He however said western thinkers such as Werner von Braun and Noam Chomsky had reiterated the richness of India's contribution to global heritage, including language and science. RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana presided over the function.
A compound, Uttroside-B, isolated from the leaves of a perennial shrub and a nightshade, Solanum nigrum, by a team of researchers at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology has been found to be an effective chemotherapeutic agent against liver cancer. The drug molecule Uttroside-B was isolated from the leaves of "Manathakkali", found growing wild in the backyards of houses in Kerala, by Ruby John Anto and Lekshmi R. Nath of the RGCB. The compound has received the designation of orphan drug from the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, a release issued by the RGCB said here. Orphan drug designation supports development and evaluation of new treatments for rare diseases and allows fast track approval of the drug. The technology, patented by Dr. Anto and Dr. Nath, has been bought by the U.S. pharma company QbioMed, which has already handed over the first milestone payment. The technology transfer was done through the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF).
RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana said the research could prove to be a major breakthrough in the treatment of liver cancer, the incidence of which had been growing in recent times. Dr. Ruby and her team are currently studying the mechanism of action of Uttroside-B and evaluating its efficacy against fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic Steato Hepatitis (NASH), and liver cancer. They have teamed up with L. Ravishankar of CSIR-NIST, who has developed a novel method to isolate the compound from the leaves of Solanum nigrum. Dr. Anto said Uttroside-B had been found to be more effective in treating liver cancer than the lone FDA-approved drug available now. Toxicity evaluation in human volunteers had shown that the compound was also effective in treating fatty liver. Recent results from her lab also indicated that the therapeutic efficacy of Uttroside-B against liver cancer could be enhanced, if used in combination with Chloroquine phosphate, a drug already in use against malaria, the release said. The research work was published in the Nature group of Journal, Scientific Reports 6:36318 doi: 10.1038/srep36318, 2016
The mechanism to crack down on corruption in India is still in a nascent stage, which needs to be strengthened with proper legislative and legal provisions to ensure probity in all domains, said Dr K Radhakrishnan, former DGP of Tamil Nadu.
He was addressing a webinar held by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) as part of the Vigilance Awareness Week programmes, coinciding with the 146th birth anniversary of India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The theme of this year’s Vigilance Awareness Week observance, which concluded today, was “Independent India @75: Self Reliance with Integrity”, to mark the 75th anniversary of the nation’s Independence.
Fr Dr Mathew Thengumpally CMI, Principal, Christ Nagar School Kowdiar, was the chief guest at the valedictory function, presided over by Professor Chandrabhas Narayana, Director, RGCB, Dr.S. Asha Nair, Chief Vigilance Officer and Nandkumar Nair ( Senior Manager, Security & Vigilance) were present .
The staff members of the RGCB, an autonomous research institution under the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, took a pledge to work tirelessly to combat corruption.
Speaking on the topic “Vigilance Mechanism in Government of India,” Dr Radhakrishnan said the cancer of corruption is rampant in the country and the youth should come forward to wage a relentless battle against the affliction.
“The awareness against bribe should start from home and school. It should be pursued in institutions. We have to inculcate moral and ethical values among kids and change should come from one’s surroundings,” he said.
Citing the 2020 report of Berlin-based Transparency International on corruption in nations, Shri Radhakrishnan said India’s rank is 86 out of 180 nations with a score of 40.It uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero signifies the highest level of corruption and 100 is very clean. New Zealand and Denmark rank first with a scores of 88.
As part of the week-long programmes, an essay writing competition for RGCB staffs and students and interactive section for school students on the theme of the Vigilance Awareness Week was also held. Prizes were distributed for the winners of each category. The winners of the various competitions held in connection with the event were presented the prizes and certificates.
Uttroside B, a bioactive phytochemical isolated from manathakkali (Black nightshade), shows promising potential against liver cancer. Dr Ruby John Anto and the team from RGCB's Cancer Research Program characterized the compound and obtained several international patents. The technology is transferred to QBioMed, for further development and received orphan drug designation from the U.S. FDA against liver cancer. The extract of the plant is currently in a clinical trial for liver disease in two places.
Kerala Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan has lauded
Rajiv Gandhi Centre For Biotechnology (RGCB), under the
Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for
providing all services of its Medical Laboratory for
citizens at their homes amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The
project also came in for appreciation from Health Minister
Smt. Veena George, and Minister for General Education and
Labour Shri. V.Sivankutty. They extended their greetings,
gratitude, and support to RGCB for its "Home, Clinical,
Investigation" services. Bedridden patients, senior
citizens, pregnant women, differently-abled, and kids are
eligible for clinical lab services at home. The At-Home
project of the Medical Laboratory of RGCB, launched in
association with the Health and Family Welfare Department
of the Government of Kerala, will make available for
people all laboratory services including the RT-PCR test
at the government rates at their doorsteps.
Under the facility, all laboratory tests including RT-PCR and Antigen tests can be done at the government rates. Special packages are available for senior citizens at affordable rates. Resident associations can also utilize the service.
For further information call 9895772893. RGCB's accredited labs have sample collection units across the Thiruvananthapuram district.
RGCB, in collaboration with the Government of Kerala, has been doing extensive research to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. RGCB labs are doing Covid-19 tests along with the Health Department since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Dr. Karthika Rajeeve, Scientist E-I has been awarded SERB-POWER Fellowship. This fellowship is designed to identify and reward outstanding women researchers and innovators working in Indian academic institutions and R&D laboratories.
Dr. Karthik Subramanian got selected for the Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship 2020-21 by the Department of Biotechnology,Ministry of Science and Technology Government of India.
Addressing the 13th General Body meeting of
RGCB through video conferencing, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said
RGCB's close association with multiple cancer hospitals in
Kerala is a good model that is expected to facilitate the
advanced Cell based therapy against cancer at affordable
costs to needy patients. A lead anti-cancer molecule
discovered by scientists at RGCB had been licensed to a
multinational company and was in the final stages of
pre-clinical testing at Oklahoma Medical Research
Foundation in the US, he said.
The BSL3 plus facility being established at the Akkulam campus would undertake natural product-based drug discovery using live virus and carry out research on any emerging pathogen requiring high containment.
RGCB has transferred the technology of "COVID-Anosmia checker", a tool for Covid-19/olfactory dysfunction screening, developed by Dr Jackson James Dbt Rgcb Thiruvananthapuram to INSTIGATOR e-SUPPORTING SERVICES PRIVATE LTD, Trivandrum . Loss of smell is reported as a major symptom of COVID-19. The odor strip,"COVID-Anosmia checker", is spotted with gradients of coffee and lemon grass oil and can be used for mass screening of COVID-19. No special training is required to use this tool.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General Shekhar C Mande on Sunday warned that the Covid-19 crisis was far from being over and allowing a "third wave" by lowering our guard is fraught with grave consequences.The CSIR Director General was speaking on "India's response to Covid-19 from S & T perspective" at a virtual "National Science Day Lectures," organised by Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology
Dr. Renjini AP, Senior Research Associate in the Molecular Reproduction Division was awarded the Founder President Dr. T. C. Anand Kumar Young Scientist Award on her work entitled "Coordinated signaling by estrogen via ER dependent and independent mechanisms contributes to successful embryo implantation and pregnancy" in ISSRF 2021 (Virtual conference) .
The second campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) is ready for dedication to the nation, Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan announced here on Friday. "I am happy to announce that this research facility will be named Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection," he said, while addressing a curtain-raiser session of the sixth edition of India International Science Festival (IISF).
RGCB's foundation stone was laid on November 18, 1995 by the then Prime Minister Shri P. V. Narashima Rao. To commemorate this RGCB celebrates November 18 as its Foundation Day, every year. This year happens to be the Silver Jubilee Year and it is our privilege to invite all of you for this year's Foundation Day Lecture by Professor P Balaram, Former Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore on November 25, 2020 at 11.00 A.M.
The Central government has appointed Professor Chandrabhas Narayana, currently Dean (Research and Development) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, as Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB). An accomplished scientist and interdisciplinary research leader, Professor Narayana succeeds Professor M. Radhakishna Pillai who retired as RGCB Director in August after a stint of over 15 years. The appointment is for a period of five years. Professor Narayana, who specialises in Raman Spectroscopy, has served as Professor of Chemistry and Physics of Materials Unit and Dean, Fellowships and Extension Programmes, JNCASR. He holds three international patents, a couple of which are on the verge of commercialisation.
Dr. E.V Soniya, Scientist G has been selected by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India for the National Woman Senior Bioscientist Award. The award is in recognition for her lifetime research contributions and their application to society. The award carries a cash prize of Rupees 5 lakhs together with citation and a gold medal. Dr. Soniya has made significant contributions to understanding genomics of susceptibility of pepper to disease and also leads the DNA fingerprinting services. It was under her leadership that RGCB identified all victims of the Ochi cyclone and the Puttingal firework tragedy in record time.
Dr. Rakesh Laishram, Scientist E-II & Wellcome Trust-India Alliance Intermediate Fellow has been awarded the prestigious Swarna Jayanthi Fellowship by the Department of Science & Technology. Under this scheme a selected number of young scientists, with proven track record, are provided special assistance and support to enable them to pursue basic research in frontier areas of science and technology.
Dr. K R Mahendran, DBT Ramalingaswamy Faculty Fellow has got the Merck Young Scientist Award in Biological Science.The award carries a cash prize of Rupees 2 lakhs together with travel grant of Rupees 1.5 Lakhs.
Professor M. Radhakrishna Pillai, Director of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) has been selected for Sun Pharma Research Award 2019 in Medical Sciences. The Sun Pharma Research Awards are for excellence in original research work in Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences by Indian Scientists working in India and abroad. The award carries a Trophy, Citation and a Cash Prize of Rs.250000/- (Rupees two lakh fifty thousand).
Why bother with a master's degree? Across India, the post-graduate course has earned a slightly odd reputation. It's the scholar's stepping stone to a doctorate. It's lucrative in a handful of streams like business and development studies. But for much else it's seen as dated and out of touch with the job market.
Now, niche, post-graduate courses are fighting back. They offer interdisciplinary studies and specialisations in new domains that might help you get hired or get ahead. Industry professionals are included as faculty, and the curriculum is geared to provide hands-on experience. These are making a master's in law, arts, data analytics, data science and information technology (IT) especially productive.
The Sciences get a Boost
Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) recently launched its first masters programme with a specialisation in disease biology. The institute's director M Radhakrishna Pillai says most pharma, bio-pharma and biotech industries are typically unwilling to hire masters' level students. "The companies have to invest at least two years to get them job-ready," he says.
At the institute, most master's students "come from colleges and institutes that teach in an old fashioned way, with no access to modern technology," he says. They're not prepared for the research-oriented programme and the chance to work with India's top scientists.
So at RGCB, students actually work in the labs for their MSc programme. There's a large diagnostics facility for infectious diseases and a DNA fingerprinting facility. The institute's business-development incubator, BioNest, in Kochi, has 26 start-up companies and students intern with them. "There is high demand especially in the health industry, for trained people to work in advanced clinical diagnostics labs in the hospitals. And that is exactly what we are providing," he says.
J Irene Infancy, a first year student specialising in molecular diagnostics and DNA profiling says the facilities are a boon. "Not many institutes in India offer specialisation courses in biotechnology. It's one of the main reasons I chose to study here," she says. "The MSc biotechnology course has increased my scientific temperament and critical thinking."
Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) is all set to
offer a new Masters programme in Biotechnology that is said
to be the sole postgraduate programme in the country that
allows students the opportunity to choose among three
specialisations - disease biology, molecular plant sciences,
and molecular diagnostics and DNA profiling.
It was the only standalone Masters programme offered by the Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB), Faridabad, through (RGCB), Sudhanshu Vrati, executive director of the RCB said. Forty-one students have been enrolled for the first batch of the programme from over 700 applicants from across the country.
Launching the programme here on Saturday, Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, said the country currently focussed on working with global partnerships in emerging technologies in the biotechnology sector. Besides developing a conducive ecosystem for biotech start-ups, the department was supporting human resource development programmes such as the Star College scheme to support colleges and universities in improving science education across the country. Around 180 colleges had been brought under the ambit of the programme. Similar schemes were in place at levels including in postgraduation and research. Dr. Swarup added that the department was well ahead on its path to turn the biotechnology sector into a $100-billion industry by 2025 in line with the National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-20. B. Anand, Additional Secretary, Department of Biotechnology; RGCB Director M. Radhakrishna Pillai; and RGCB MSc programme course coordinator Debasree Dutta also spoke on the occasion.
The current global resurgence in measles is having its resonance in Kerala too, which has been witnessing a serious surge in the disease since January. Across the globe, huge local outbreaks have been caused by travel as well as the increase in unvaccinated populations. In Kerala, however, majority of the cases are reported from Thiruvananthapuram, which has good vaccination coverage and amongst people who are well-nourished and have received at least one dose of vaccine in their lifetime.
DNA profiling may be a contentious issue among humans, but for Kerala's captive elephants, it's a done deal. In a first for India, every one of Kerala's captive elephants now has a unique DNA-based genetic ID. M. Radhakrishna Pillai, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), which was given the task of DNA fingerprinting the elephants, handed over the DNA database, prototypes of Unique Identification Cards, and a study report to the Forest Department's Chief Wildlife Warden P.C. Kesavan on Tuesday.