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Japanese collaboration… sunshine news from Land of Sunrise

September 16, 2013

We step aside from our journey through the endeavours of our scientists working in different DBT institutes, to serve up some good news on our international collaborations.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) have signed separate Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with RIKEN, Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines.

The aim is to launch joint research programmes in the fields of biology, life sciences and material sciences.

Nobel Laureate scientist Professor Ryoji Noyori signed the MoU in New Delhi on September 14 as the President of RIKEN.

Genome related research ‑ including systems biology, development of bioinformatics tools, detection tools such as spectroscopy ‑ would be some of the areas the research programmes under this MoU would be focusing on.

ImageThe Secretary, DST, Dr. T. Ramasami and Prof. NOYORI Ryoji, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2001), President RIKEN, Japan at the MoU signing event in New Delhi

For us at DBT, this MoU will usher in a new era of cooperation in the area of innovations and techniques for the agricultural and pharmacological industries in India.

You may be wondering how long the MoU would take to fructify. It is perhaps natural to ask: “Is this yet another formality being trumpeted?” Such processes do take some time, though.

But the signing of the MoU will be followed very promptly by an agreement for joint laboratories for research on materials and biological sciences.

The function held on September 14 comes from years of interaction that have resulted in close interactions and institutional as well as country-wise bonds of friendship.

So, this is a formal step based on a strong foundation.

The laboratory on materials sciences would be a collaboration between Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc )and RIKEN and will be funded by the DST.

The laboratory on neurosciences and developmental biology is collaboration between the National Centre for Biological Science (NCBS/TIFR), the Institute for Stem Biology and Regenerative Medicine (INSTEM) and RIKEN Center for Cell and Developmental Biology, and will be funded by the DBT.

Our soon-to-be spruced-up and ‘happening’ website will keep you all posted about such happy tidings.

Under the RIKEN-DBT & DST joint research initiative, RIKEN and DBT or DST will determine the fields of collaboration, selection methods and numbers of collaborative programmes through mutual collaboration.

Apart from joint research programmes, the joint initiative will also support exchange of researchers, post-doctoral fellows and knowledge exchanges through seminars and symposia.

In a public lecture at the National Institute of Immunology to celebrate the signing of the MoU Professor Ryoji Noyori highlighted the importance of scientific collaborations in reaching the benefits of science to the people at large.

The hall was packed with students from the research colleges of the Delhi University and from neighbouring institutes.

Elaborating on his own research on asymmetric catalysis and how he applied it on catalytic hydrogenation, Professor Noyori emphasised that while serendipity is important in scientific discoveries, the young should know that chance only favours the prepared mind.

And mere school education is not sufficient to be prepared, in terms of science, he said.

He greatly appreciated India’s successes, especially in mathematics, and in facilitating mass access to medicines by producing low cost generic options.

Earlier collaborations with RIKEN have been quite productive.

We in DBT look forward to facilitate more such collaborations to encourage diversity of ideas in science that can trigger better solutions.

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  1. Hi All
    We are developing a communications team and this should be formally in place in the coming weeks, when I will introduce them. This piece is written by a colleague as is the connected Twitter post. I will sign these posts when I write, otherwise it will be someone from our team writing. And soon, my colleagues will start signing their posts too.

  2. Seema permalink

    It sure is a happy collaboration, and your blog bespeaks of positivity and freshness. Can you just let me know how we will be going forward in Bioinformatics and Systems biology arena? Because I would like to avail of such collaboration, that will help expand the field and be fruitful and productive in its endeavour.

    • Dear Seema
      Thanks for your comment. Lets come to Systems Biology a little later 🙂
      About Bioinformatics ( a matter which Binay Panda from Ganit Labs also raised in an earlier post) we are moving ahead to finish the next steps and Binay and I thought that it will be good to have a ‘community-wide’ e-discussion. We’ve also had a couple of ‘real’ ones a year ago and earlier, and should have another after the virtual one. Another person who had well-thought out views on Bioinformatics is Soumyaditya Pyne from the CR Rao Institute in Hyderabad. I will set up a separate topic for discussion on this blog on how DBT should invest in bioinformatics in today’s context and we can participate and I will request Binay, Soumyaditya and you to drive it. We have a document prepared a year ago on a putative Bioinformatics institute in a ‘hub and spoke’ model. Even though that came about after much discussion and meetings, I hesitate to go ahead with it without another debate. Much has changed in the science recently in very exciting ways and we must talk to see how we can take forward both science and training here effectively with the resources at hand.

  3. Thanks, Prof. Vijay. I will be willing and happy to participate. About Systems Biology, in fact, I have got DBT CREST award to learn this new field this year and would be willing to implement my training when I come back.

  4. Rahul Koul permalink

    Dear Vijay Sir,

    Came across this blog today. Really a great initiative and much required effort to engage in effective communication with students and researchers on social media. It surely will help in the dissemination of information to media as well. Since I was unable to attend the event on Saturday, this information surely will help me to cover the event in BS…Look forward to see more blogs on variety of other initiatives in future…Best wishes!

    Regards, Rahul Koul, BioSpectrum

  5. binay permalink

    vijay, congratulations. i always thought that due to legacy and historical reasons we under-collaborated with the japanese institutions. the current agreement puts things right and indeed is a great step forward.

    on bioinformatics, i shall have the ball rolling to have a wider discussion. i shall have pyne & others involved as well on this.

    thank you. binay

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