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December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

Prime Minister Fellowship For Doctoral Research – 100 Fellowships Notification for the Prime Minister PhD Fellowship has been released. Applicants can apply for it as it is an open-ended scheme. 100 Fellowships are up for grabs. INDIAN NATIONALS ARE REQUESTED TO CHECK OUT ALL OF THE DETAILS WITH REGARDS TO ELIGIBILITY, AREAS OF RESEARCH INTEREST, APPLICATION PROCEDURE AND IMPORTANT DATES ALL GIVEN BELOW: By Diluxi Arya


tions in India in the current year and want to do industrial research, should find an industry sponsor with whom the doctoral fellow will decide the research topic.

• One PhD scholar and one industry jointly should apply. Doctoral Fellow will be the Applicant and industry will be Co-Applicant • Research scholar should have taken admission in full-time PhD in last 14 months from the date of submission of applications in any recognized Indian University / Institute / Research Laboratory. In case of a different admission/enrollment date and registration date, the first date of PhD admission will be considered. • Research scholar should have an excellent academic track record • Research scholar should obtain ‘No Objection’ from his / her Institution before applying and will get a letter of commitment from the Head of the Institution • Research scholar should have identified (before applying) an industry partner / co-applicant who should be ready to support the research project financially and also lend technical and intellectual support. Doctoral Fellow will get a Letter of Commitment from the industry partner before applying.

The sponsoring industry should agree to pay a matching amount to the Government component, which can go up to a maximum of Rs. 6.1 lakhs per year (including 10% management fee), for four years and be involved in 1. BACKGROUND the research project with the doctoral fellow and the institution. This India is far behind many countries amount is subject to change as per the including China in terms of number revisions in the Government slabs. of PhDs passing out of Indian university system every The scheme is currently designed year. This has many reasons. Indian to support 100 such fellowships in a industry’s investment in Research & year. Development, barring a few sectors like pharmaceuticals and biotechIt was envisaged that this scheme nology, is very poor compared to the would eventually impact on attracting global benchmark and they don’t rea large number of talented students cruit PhDs in large scale. On the other pursuing PhDs and on changing the hand, the Government’s doctoral felindustry’s mindset in investing in lowship amount is not attractive and R&D and recruiting more PhDs. talented students tend to accept jobs than pursuing PhDs. The First Call for Application was announced in November 2012 and Government of India and Confedwithin a month; more eration of Indian industry have been than 200 applications from doctoral very concerned about this trend and fellows and industry were received. A explored an innovative model where high-level Apex Council chaired by 3. BROAD APPLICATION PROtalented students and industry will be Dr M K Bhan, Former Secretary of CESS FOR PRIME MINISTER attracted to join hands in a process Department of Biotechnology, select- PhD FELLOWSHIP where doctoral fellows will get doued 28 Fellowships. ble fellowship amount and the indusApplicant: PhD Scholar try will initiate a research project. The scheme has been made open-ended from the year 2014. • Get an in-principle approval The scheme invites applications from from academic research guide doctoral fellows who are enrolled in 2. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA – and Head of the institution for any recognised university and instituWHO CAN APPLY applying for this Fellowship. IN THE AREAS OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AGRICULTURE & MEDICINE

• Develop preliminary proposal for research based on the self’s qualification / strength/skills aiming for a particular sector of industrial applications, in consultation with the academic research guide. • Engage with some industry to explore the industry’s interest in the research proposal. • Finalise the research proposal in consultation with industry and academic guide. • Get a Letter of Commitment from Industry who will be ready to pay maximum Rs. 6.1 lakh per year (including 10% program management fee), for four years and be involved in the research project with the doctoral fellow and the institution. The amount of support varies according to the JRF / SRF slab of the candidate and the HRA slabs for the host institute. • Get a letter of commitment from the Head of your institution that will be ready to allow you to work in the institute and in the premises of sponsoring industry, as and when needed and for joint (industry + institute) review of the progress of research Apply online for the PM Fellowship (Application Form enclosed in Annexure 1). • Once selected, sign an agreement (Sample agreement enclosed in

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Annexure – 2) with sponsoring industry and your institution clearly defining the roles and responsibilities including sharing of Intellectual Property that may be generated as the outcome of the research. • Execute the research project as per the mutually agreed process and timelines. Co-Applicant: Industry • Engage with doctoral fellows who will approach you, either directly or through CII, to explore a partnership with the doctoral fellow in his / her research project of your interest. • In case, you already have a research assignment, you identify a capable doctoral fellow (from a recognised university/institution) who can conduct the research on your assignment during his / her PhD course. • Finalise the research proposal in consultation with doctoral Fellow and his / her academic guide. • Provide a Letter of Commitment to the doctoral fellow to pay maximum Rs. 6.1 lakh per year (including 10% program management fee), for four years and to be involved in the research project with the doctoral fellow and the institution. The amount of support varies according to the JRF / SRF slab of the candidate and the HRA slabs for the host institute. • Sign up application form jointly with doctoral fellow, online for the PM Fellowship (Application Form enclosed in Annexure 1) • Once selected, sign an agreement (Sample agreement enclosed in Annexure – 2) with doctoral fellow and his / her institution clearly defining the roles and responsibilities, including sharing of Intellectual Property that may be generated as the outcome of the research. • Execute the research project as per the mutually agreed process and timelines. 4. SUBJECT AREAS IN WHICH APPLICATIONS ARE INVITED PRIME MINISTER PhD FELLOWSHIP Applications with research proposals in the following broad areas are invited: • • • •

Science Technology Engineering Agriculture

• Medicine The proposed research should qualify on criteria of excellence and relevance and be of technical and scientific merit. The proposed research should have practical relevance and industrial application. 5. FELLOWSHIP WORK


• Up to 100 Fellowships would be provided each year and the Fellowship will be paid from financial year April-March. • The Fellowship amount will be up to Rs. 10.92 lakh per annum maximum per candidate. (Based on the current JRF/SRF slabs) • 50% of the fellowship will come from SERB [being equivalent to the prevailing Government norms for JRF /SRF (inclusive of HRA)] of maximum Rs 6,00,600/- per annum and will be revised as per the JRF/SRF norms from time to time. • Rest 50% (the matching equivalent of SERB component) will come from the sponsoring industry co-applicant. • The Government Component will be decided basis JRF & SRF slabs and no provision of Research Associate (RA) is available under the scheme • Duration of the Fellowships will be a maximum of four years leading to awarding of PhD degree • If selected to receive the Prime Minister’s Fellowship for Doctoral Research, the the candidate will cease to receive any other scholarship/salary from any other organisation which he/she may be receiving at present • If the partner company ceases to support a fellow during the committed 4 year time period, the PM Fellowship will stand cancelled and the government support will also be withdrawn from the time the industry support becomes unavailable. HOW TO APPLY (Sample Application Form given as Annexure 1) FOR PRIME MINISTER PhD FELLOWSHIP

quired matchmaking with • industry. Applications will be accepted only through this web portal. • The scheme is open-ended and the scholars can apply anytime during the year subject to the condition that the research scholar should have taken admission in full-time PhD in last 14 months from the date of submission of applications in any recognized Indian University / Institute / Research Laboratory. In case of a different admission/ enrollment date and registration date, the first date of PhD admission will be considered. • This scheme is not available for part-time research scholars. • The evaluation and selection can take place more than once during the year, depending on the application volumes. Interim selection can be done as required if sufficient applications are received • The updates on selection will be available online


A) Candidates need to refer to Annexure I in the Call for Proposal document which is available on the home page of the portal All the required documents and details needed to be given should be collected before filling the online application. Q. 4) I had filled the application online but before I could click on the ‘Submit’ button, my net connection snapped and my application was lost. Will I need to fill it again? A) Yes, if all data is lost you will need to fill the form again. However, this is unlikely if you save your progress from time to time while filling up the form. A ‘Save’ option is provided in the online form. You can use this option to save all data you may have entered and can continue to fill the form later from the same step where you last left.

Q. 5) What is the timeline until which the application for Prime Minister PhD Fellowship can be submitted? Will an additional hard Frequently Asked Questions copy, stamped/signed of the applica(FAQs) for Prime Minister PhD tion required to be sent to CII? Fellowship A) The scheme is open-ended and Q. 1) How can I apply for this Prime the scholars can apply anytime during Minister PhD Fellowship? the year subject to the condition that the research fellow should have taken A) You can apply for this fellowship admission in full-time PhD in last 14 through the website www.primemin- months from the date of submission of applications in any recognized Indian University / Institute / Research Q. 2) What is the procedure for ap- Laboratory. In case of a different adplying for the Prime Minister PhD mission/enrollment date and registraFellowship? tion date, the first date of PhD admission will be considered. A) Following is a step-by-step guide for the application process:In case of any dispute regarding the submission date, the decision of the • Register as a student on the por- Apex Council will be considered as tal www.primeministerfellowship- final. • Download the Call for Proposal No hard copies of any kind need to and Document Checklist be sent to CII; only soft copies are re• Tie up with a company and get the quired to be uploaded as indicated in required undertakings signed from the form. a valid signatory in the company as well as in the host institute Q. 6) What are the requisite details • Collect all documents and make an applicant needs to fill-in? digital copies of each • Fill the application form online A) Refer to Annexure I in Call for (the form cannot be downloaded and Proposal. requires net connectivity while filling) Q. 7) Can I apply if I do not have • Submit application an industry partner? Will CII help in • Do not send any physical copy of finding one? the application/documents to CII

• Applications will be accepted only in online mode through the web portal • www.primeministerfellowship- Q. 3) How does the online application work for Prime Minister PhD • All candidates are advised to Fellowship? register on this portal for the re-

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A) Applications without industry partners will not be accepted by the online system. Candidates have to find industry partners on their own. CII facilitates match-making between research scholars and industry through the portal All those who want to search for industry partners are requested to register themselves on this portal. Registration on this portal, however, will not guarantee that the candidate will find an industry partner. The relevance of their project for industry and the extent to which the candidate is able to convey their capability to the industry will determine whether they will find industry partners or not. The interested companies can evaluate the profile and contact the applicants if they find the proposal relevant. Q. 8) How can I find relevant industry partners? A) Candidates should talk to their research guides at the institute and find out about the relevant companies in that field. They can do their own research in and around them to find out the right companies and approach them. Candidates should also keep themselves abreast with the latest technologies, trends and companies working in their field. They should try to interact with industry people in their field as frequently as possible to trigger idea thrashing about a particular project. Q. 9) If an applicant submits the form, can it be submitted again? A) Refer to point number 4 regarding saving progress. Candidates can review and rereview their forms any number of times before uploading them finally. Once uploaded, however, the form cannot be submitted again. Q. 10) If I apply this year and am not able to get the scholarship this time, will I be allowed to apply next year for the Prime Minister PhD Fellowship? A) Yes, you can apply as a fresh candidate with updated information, provided you satisfy all the eligibility conditions. Q. 11) Will applicants get automated response to submission? Will somebody call from CII to confirm the receipt of the application? A) Applicants will get an automatic response at the submission of applica-

tions. They will not receive any calls from CII. In case you do not receive a system-generated an email regarding the submission of their application within 24 hours, the applicant must contact CII at and cc: Q. 12) Which are the institutes where PM Fellows are doing their research? A) Following are some of the institutes where PM Fellows are pursuing their PhD: Acharya Nagarjuna University, Academy of Scientific & Innovative Research, Alagappa University, Amity University, Anna University, Banaras Hindu University, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University, Institute of Chemical Technology, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Indian Institute of Science, Indian Institutes of Technology, IIT Bombay – Monash University Research Academy, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Manipal University, National Chemical Laboratory, National Institutes of Technology, PSG College, Punjab Agricultural University, Saurashtra University, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Tata Memorial Hospital, Thiagarajar College of Engineering and Kurukshetra University Q. 12) Which are the companies who are supporting PM Fellows in their research? A) Following are some of the companies who are supporting PM Fellows in their research: Abellon Clean Energy Limited, Applied Materials Inc., Arche Biologics, Autosys Engineering (P) Limited, Beauscape Farms, Bharat Forge Limited, Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited, CYMK Inks LLP, Eaton Corporation, Envian Engineers Private Limited, EON Electric Limited, Forbes Marshall Private Limited, G.E. Motors Private Limited, GE India Technology Center Private Limited, General Mills India Private Limited, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited, Google India Private Limited, Hoganas AB, HPCL, IBIDEN Co. Limited, Infosys Limited, Intel Corporation – USA, Intel Technology India Private Limited, Jai Bharath Gum & Chemical Limited, Joegeetha Plastic Pipes, Kamineni Hospital Limited, K-Pack Systems Private Limited, Krish Biotech Research Private Limited, Maxim Crop Sciences

December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

Private Limited, Maxim Integrated – California, Microsoft Research, Morphing Machines Private Limited, NanoXpert Technologies, Natco Pharma Limited, NMDC, Nova-Surface Care Centre Private Limited, Nuziveedu Seeds Limited, Ozone Research and Application India Private Limited, P&G – Beijing, Persistent Systems Limited, Petrotech Society, Piramal Healthcare Limited, Prathista Industries Limited, Preca Solutions India Private Limited, Robert Bosch Engineering and Business Solutions Limited, Sahajanand Medical Technologies Private Limited, Sampurn Agri Ventures Private Limited, Shell India Markets Private Limited, Simco Global Technology & Systems Limited, Skymax Research & Regulations, Solar Agrotech Private Limited, Sree Akzya Dyeing, Strand Life Sciences, Suyog Nirmiti, Talga Resources Limited, Tata Chemicals Limited, Tata Steel Limited, The Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers Fed Limited (Milkfed Punjab), Thermax Limited, Trichy Distilleries & Chemicals Limited, United Phosphorus Limited, Vaata Infra Limited, Varsha Bioscience and Technology, Verdenta Hybrid Seeds Private Limited, Xerox India Limited and Zim Laboratories Limited APPLICATION GUIDELINES PRIME MINISTER PhD FELLOWSHIP Applications will only be accepted in an online format through the web portal Project Proposals will include both a technical component and a plan of how the same will be executed. The technical, as well as the execution components, should describe the innovation, outline the proposed technical approach and contain a research plan. The proposal will also provide a description of the institutions and the industry and other participants along with detailed resumes of key project personnel. Please refer to the following to get a better understanding of what will be covered in the application form:

• •

her before applying. The industry can reach out to a Fellow and propose to sponsor his / her research and get the PhD Fellow to apply for the scheme. For each project, there will also be an industry mentor for the PhD Fellow who will be the Co-supervisor / Co-guide. No overheads will be given to the institute where the full-time PhD Fellow will be enrolled. Before the start of the Fellowship, the industry will be free to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement with the candidate and his / her institute, in view of the sharing of the company’s data and/or other resources by the candidate. Publication of Results: Successful candidates will be informed through emails. The list of final candidates will also be put up on the website of SERB and CII. Administrative and Legal requirements to be addressed by the Institute Partner, Industry Partner and the Fellow under the Scheme while signing the Memorandum of Understanding:

1. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) will be the implementing agency of the scheme. It will disburse the amount to the institute on a half-yearly basis and the institute, in turn, will pay to the research Fellow. 2. The institute will disburse the scholarship to the candidate on a monthly basis. 3. The company supporting the research and SERB will deposit the scholarship amount of four years per candidate with Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on a yearly basis. 4. It will be the responsibility of the Fellow to get the MoU signed from institute and industry and send the copies for signing to CII. CII will keep one copy of the MoU and return three copies back to the candidate. 5. Refer to Annexure-II for details of administrative and legal requirements for all four parties as per the MoA.

1. The application process will be 12. SUPPORTING DOCUonline. MENTS REQUIRED WITH AP2. Applications with project pro- PLICATION FORM FOR PRIME posals minus an industry partner MINISTER PhD FELLOWSHIP will not be considered for evaluation. Scholarships will be given 1. Undertaking from Research Suonly if there is an industry sponpervisor and Head of the Organsor. There can be two ways to get isation / Institute / University as an industry to sponsor: • The Fellow can approach a company and get it to sponsor him/

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December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

per format given in Application Form 2. Undertaking from Industry Partner in the research project as per format given in Application Form 3. Attested Copies of Certificates/ degrees acquired by Fellow till date including PhD Registration Certificate 4. Profiles / CVs • Student • Academic Guide (with publication and research project details)

• • • • • • •

Industry Mentor Partner Company Institute Passport Size Picture Publications Research Synopsis Uniqueness of the research proposition • List of Applicant’s Publications • Partner Company Balance Sheet • Partner Company Cash flow statement (For SMEs and Startups)


Last date of Online Submission of Application Form for Prime Minister PhD Fellowship

Anytime within 14 months from initial admission in PhD

Announcement of Results of Prime Minister PhD Fellowship

Updates on website

Signing of MoUs between PhD Fellows, Industry and Institutes Release of Fellowship amount to Research scholar

Industry and Institutes Within the time-period specified in the selection mail From April (or Month specified in the selection mail) of each year on a monthly basis




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Top 10 Research Institutes In India Conducting High Impact Research Science impact our daily lives, right from the place we live to the food we eat, high-end electronic gadgets we use; modern science and technology impact many aspects of our lives and it won’t be incorrect to say that Science has become crucial for the survival of humanity. SCIENCE MAKES OUR WORLD POSSIBLE. DON’T YOU AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT? By Dr.Tanushree / Rahul Mishra

These radical changes in our lives have all been possible because of great scientific minds such as Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, and many, who are a source of inspiration for society because of their outstanding work. Research is a science in itself and provides tremendous scope if it is unique and for the benefit to society. Every day we hear of discoveries and inventions taking place all around the The Division of Biological Sciences globe. of IISc is committed to frontline research in several aspects of modern India has become a hub of the vi- biology which includes: brant scientific community, and we are continually progressing in the • Structural Biology, field of biological research. Thanks • Reproductive and Developmento some of the premier world-recogtal Biology, nized institutions in our country, India • DNA Repair and Genomic Stahas significantly contributed impactbility ful research to the global scientific • Systems Biology and Bioinforcommunity. matics, • Neuroscience in health and disLet us have a look at the Best Reease, search Institutes Life Science In • Infectious Disease, India – Where You Can work as a • Enzymology, Researcher in cutting edge research • Oncology, projects! • Immunology, • Diverse Ecological Studies and 1. INDIAN INSTITUTE OF so on. SCIENCES (IISC) In the Biological science division, Founded by Jamshetji Nusser- researchers focus on research in wanji Tata in 1909 Cognition and Neuronal ReproLocation: Bengaluru, Karnataka gramming, Infectious Diseases, Drug and Molecular Design, DiagIndian Institute of Sciences is one of nostics, and Therapeutics in Cancer, the world’s premier scientific insti- Gene Targeting, Genetic Disorders, tutions imparting world-class higher and Genetic Diversity. education and contributing excellence in research and training people In it’s latest Breakthrough rein science and technology. search, the Biological Science department has conducted research on There are 40 departments with six HIV, Climate change, and Cell Sigdivisions at IISc which include, Bio- nalling logical Science, Electrical Sciences, Interdisciplinary Research, Mechan- 2. TATA INSTITUTE OF FUNical Sciences, Chemical Sciences, DAMENTAL RESEARCH Physical & Mathematical Sciences. (TIFR) The division of Biological Sciences Founded with support from the creates relevant links between basic Sir Dorabji Tata Trust under the science as well as innovative research. vision of Dr. Homi Bhabha in 1945,

TIFR ranks among top research institutes in the world. Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) is a National Centre of the Government of India.

Location: Bengaluru, Karnataka JNCASR is a relatively new yet a well- known multidisciplinary research institute, funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. JNCASR has been provided the status of a deemed university by the Government of India.

It is also a deemed University awarding degrees for masters and doctoral programs.TIFR conducts research in biology, chemistry, physics, mathe- JNCASR is dedicated to pursue as matics, computer science, and science well as promote world-class scientific education. research and training at the frontiers of science and engineering. It is an ideal place for scholars who are looking for internationally Researchers Centre at this worldrecognized research facilities and class institute is divided into nine opportunities for working abroad. units, which include Educational Also, it opens the door to work as a Technology, Engineering Mechanics, scientist in CIFR laboratories and Chemistry and Physics of Materials, BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Evolutionary and Integrative BioloCentre). There are fourteen labs in the gy, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Department Of Biological Sciences Geodynamics, Neuroscience, New of TIFR. Chemistry, Theoretical Sciences. Some of the latest research in Bio- School of Biological Sciences (SBS) logical Sciences at TIFR include Cell at JNCASR brings together cross-disBiology, Genetics, Biochemistry and ciplinary research anchored in selectBiophysics, and Developmental Biol- ed areas of: ogy • Molecular Biology and Genetics 3. JAWAHARLAL NEHRU • Neurosciences CENTRE FOR ADVANCED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH (JN- The institute, possessing all the necCASR) essary ingredients to excel in scientific research and education grants MasJNCASR was established by the ters and Ph.D. degrees. Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India, to mark the birth anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1989. Next Page>>>>


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ochemistry, Environmental Science, and Bioinformatics.

Some of the breakthrough research being conducted at the Department of Some internationally renowned Biological Sciences are in the field of researchers like Debendra Mohan Affiliated to Homi Bhabha Na- Neurology, Cell Biology, Plant De- Bose (who pioneered the use of photographic emulsion plates in particle tional Institute, Mumbai and estab- velopmental biology, etc. physics), Sambhu Nath De (cholera lished in 2006 6. NATIONAL CENTRE FOR toxin), Gopal Chandra Bhattacharya Location: Jatani Odisha, India CELL SCIENCE (NCCS) and Shyamadas Chatterjee (known for research on fusion) belongs to the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) is an Established in 1986, An auton- institute. autonomous institute under the De- omous organization aided by the partment of Atomic Engineering, Department of Biotechnology, Gov- The latest research includes in the ernment of India. field of Plant Biology, BioinformatGovernment of India. Location: Savitribai Phule Pune ics, Molecular Medicine, and Systems & Synthetic Biology. School of Biological Sciences (SBS) University (SPPU). is one of the significant schools at NISER. SBS was established in the The institute was established to 8. THE CENTRE FOR CELLUmake possible cell biology research in LAR & MOLECULAR BIOLOyear 2007. the country, addressing some critical GY (CCMB) Research programs and vibrant issues related to health such as metteaching curriculum at SBS is a abolic disorders, cancer, infectious Established: 1977 Location: Hyderabad, Telangana, blend of both traditional wisdom with diseases, and regenerative medicine. India modern technology. NISER – SBS promotes scholarly and innovative The institute is providing valuable thinking to conduct research in vari- services as a national animal cell re- The center for Cellular and Molecuous areas ranging from molecular to pository as well as supporting human lar Biology aims to conduct research resource development through var- in frontier as well as multi-discipliorganism biology. ious research and teaching and pro- nary areas of modern biology and to Following is the primary area of re- grams. The integrate modern and con- obtain its potential applications. search conducted in at School of Bio- ventional discipline approaches are used at NCCS in solving health-relat- CCMB also provides centralized falogical Sciences, NISR ed issues. The methods used include: cilities when adequate facilities are not present elsewhere in the coun• Pathogen biology and Host In• Stem cell biology, try for modern techniques in the inflammation terdisciplinary areas of biology. The • Host-pathogen interactions, cell • Immunology institute ensures that the facilities are signaling events, immune patho- • Genomics maintained, organized, and adminisgenesis of infection, cancer • Proteomics • Systems biology tered so that they can be put to maximicroenvironment, molecular mal use by researchers from other labevents in cancer metastasis, and • Structural biology • Microbial ecology oratories or institutions in the country. apoptosis. • Cell biology of TRP ion channels: Implications in pain and Scientists work at NCCS are recog- The research carried out at the nized worldwide through their publi- CCMB, Hyderabad includes: other pathophysiology.​ • Cellular and Molecular Genetics cations in popular scientific journals, as well as awards, which include the • Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Aging disorders National Bioscience Award, Shanti • Genetics & Evolution, Genom• Molecular Microbiology Swarup Bhatnagar Awards, Padma ics Shree and Swarnajayanti Fellowship. • Cell Biology & Development 5. INDIAN INSTITUTE OF • Computational Biology & BioSCIENCE EDUCATION AND 7. BOSE INSTITUTE informatics RESEARCH (IISERS) • Molecular Biology and Structural Biology Established by the Government of Set up in 1917 by Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose • Biochemistry & Biophysics India Location: Bhopal, Pune, Berham- Location: Kolkata, West Bengal, • Infectious Diseases pur, Mohali, Kolkata, Tirupati, and India 9. CSIR- INSTITUTE OF Thiruvananthapuram. Bose Institute (Basu Bigyan Man- GENOMICS AND INTEGRAdir) is premier and one of the oldest TIVE BIOLOGY (IGIB) Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs) is a group of research institute of India. Established: 1977 premier science education & research institutes in India. These seven insti- The institute is recognized for its es- Location: Sukhdev Vihar, Mathututes were established to integrate as sential discoveries as well as for pio- ra Road, Delhi well as promote interdisciplinary re- neering the concept of inter-disciplinary research in India and Asia. The Institute of Genomics and Insearch. tegrative Biology deals with the deThe IISERs aims to shape the nation The research conducted in the insti- velopment of the basic biological by inventing and implementing sus- tute is in the fields of Physics, Plant research concept to commercially tainable solutions for societal prob- Biology, Chemistry, Molecular med- viable technologies related to health lems by students through scientific icine, Microbiology, Biophysics, Bi- care.


CSIR-IGBI conducts unique programs related to genomic technologies to understand Rare Genetic Diseases in India. The institute has also pioneered the genomics applications for Precision Medicine in clinical research. GUaRDIAN that is Genomics for Understanding Rare Disease, India Alliance Network, is one such program that has been launched on this front. It is a large-scale collaborative network of clinicians from around India who are trying to use genomics in clinical practice, to understand rare genetic diseases in India’s genetic structure. CSIR-IGBI carries research in the field of Respiratory Disease Biology, Integrative and Functional Biology and Chemical & Systems Biology. 10. INDIAN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE (IARI) Established in 1905 Location: Pusa Delhi IARI is popularly known as the Pusa Institute derived from the fact that the institute was initially located in Pusa Bihar as the Imperial Institute of Agricultural Research. The institute was relocated to Delhi in 1936, because of the earthquake in Pusa. Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) was set up to promote agricultural research and education and responsible for the research leading to the “Green Revolution of India.” Besides basic and applied research, the institute has gained popularity because of the development of commercially available high yielding major crop varieties as well as associated management technologies. Here was a list of Best Research Institutes Life Science In India, which is significantly contributing to the Life Science research in India. Association with any of these great research organizations, one can fulfill their dreams of becoming a scientist. So, where are you planning to start? Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said- “Great scientific minds are shaped early by unforgettable experiences …..and some miracle moments.”



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

For First Time Ever – Humans Put Into Suspended Animation Doctors have put humans into a state of suspended animation for the first time in the US. EXPERTS ARE CONSIDERING IT AS A GROUNDBREAKING TRIAL THAT WOULD PROVIDE SURGEONS MOE TIME TO SAVE CRITICALLY INJURED PATIENTS. By Rahul Mishra

Humans Put Into Suspended Animation- How Does It Work? The “suspended animation in humans” involves rapidly cooling the brain to less than 10-degree Celcius by replacing the patient’s blood with an ice-cold saline solution. Typically the saline solution is pumped directly into the aorta, the primary artery that carries blood away from the heart to blood stops circulating, the brain quickly becomes starved of oxygen, the rest of the body. leading to irreparable damage within This process was formally known as about five minutes. EPR or emergency preservation and resuscitation.

The US clinical trial will compare the outcomes of 20 men and women The clinical trial is being carried on who receive standard emergency care people who sustain such catastroph- or EPR. The test is due to run until the ic injuries that they are in danger of end of the year, and full results are not bleeding to death & who suffer a expected until late 2020. heart attack even before the surgeons One complication of the ‘suspended can treat them. animation’ or the EPR procedure is The patients, who are often victims that patients’ cells may be damaged of stabbings or shootings, would typi- as they are warmed up after surgery. cally have less than a 5 percent chance of survival.

Can This Trial Also Give Us A Hope For Extreme Hibernation for interSamuel Tisherman, at the Universi- stellar travel? ty of Maryland, in Baltimore, said at least one patient had had the proce- NASA considers this as a “distinct dure. Although he did not elaborate prospectus.” on whether that patient or any other patient undergoing the treatment had The premiere US space agency is survived, he termed the process “a lit- instead finding ways of putting astronauts into a torpor, so reducing their tle surreal.” metabolism for extended periods. This technique-Humans Put Into Suspended Animation is designed to reduce brain activity to a near standstill and to slow the patient’s physiology. This process gives surgeons sufficient time, perhaps more than one hour, to operate. Once the patients undergo treatment, they are warmed up and resuscitated. This clinical trial aims to reduce the brain damage that patients are often left with if they survive such critical injuries. When the heart stops and

Kevin Fong consultant anesthetist at University College London hospital said that if EPR works, it’ll be a game-changer. Kevin is the author ofExtremes: Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body

Brief Description About The Procedure. Credits: The Guardian


December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107


CSIR Is Now a WAITRO Member – All CSIR Units / Institutes To Be Benefited CSIR is now a WAITRO Member. CSIR becomes a member of the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO)


In 1970, under the auspices of the United Nations system, the WAITRO was established to promote and encourage co-operation among industrial and technological research and development organizations (RTOs). WAITRO is a non-governmental, independent, and a nonprofit associaernment agencies, companies, NGOs, tion. impact investors, and start-ups. It Now that the CSIR is a member of is secured by Fraunhofer technoloWAITRO, the CSIR institutes can gy and is operated by the WAITRO make use of this platform to develop Secretariat based in Sankt Augustin, cooperation links other organizations Germany. which are its members, especially like some of the organizations which are the world’s most acknowledged industrial research and development organizations for research and technology development partnerships. For sustainable development, WAITRO enables action-oriented development partnerships among member organizations. This can improve the quality and value of technological research in the developing world and can provide research exchange. All the units/institutes/divisions of CSIR will have the benefits of joining WAITRO. The benefits include the free usage of SAIRA’s technology and partner search (to submit challenges) and to submit proposals, the free usage of SAIRA’s research and technology development. To tackle the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, SAIRA which is an open innovation platform connects the members of WAITRO, civil society, governments, and the private sector to enhance the deployment and development of technologies. SAIRA stands out from other open innovation platforms because the users need not have their intellectual property surrendered. SAIRA aims to transfer and exchange technologies and wants to implement innovative solutions on a global level by bringing all the established researchers together with gov-

easier to get the WAITRO Fellowship program and allows researchers to other members of WAITRO or the host WAITRO Fellows at their organization. There is also free access to WAITRO Intranet (WAITRO events, market place, and opportunities). The The biggest European Union Re- member’s organizational activities search and Innovation program, Ho- and achievements can be published in rizon 2020 has close to €80 billion of the WAITRO Newsletter. funding available over seven years (2014 to 2020) along with the private Voting eligibility is provided by this investment this money attracts. CSIR, membership in the WAITRO Gennow a member of WAITRO, can take eral Assembly. WAITRO Executive part in this biggest program, HORI- Board and for Regional Focal Point ZON 2020 and HORIZON EUROPE eligibility can be accessed through consortia. This assures more discov- this membership. A membership to eries, breakthroughs, and world-firsts certificate CSIR is also provided. as it takes great ideas from the lab to the market. This membership provides various benefits such as access to the SAIRA newsletter monthly, which has Open Challenges, Funding Opportunities, SAIRA Campaigns, and members can participate in WAITRO’s Innovation Accelerator Program also the SAIRA Project Camps. The members can be a part of the WAITRO Innovation Award, which has up to 15.000 USD seed funding for innovative project proposals and also participate in the WAITRO Capacity Development Program, which includes training, conferences, networking events). For participating in WAITRO Global Innovation Summit 2020 (December 2020, Pretoria, South Africa, there can be discounts availed through the membership. The CSIR membership makes it

Currently, there are 160 Member organizations from 78 countries in WAITRO. The member organizations include the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia; Danish Technological Institute, Denmark; Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute, China; Fraunhofer, Germany; Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), Bangladesh; Central Metallurgical Research and Development Institute (CMRDI), Egypt; Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. CSIR Is Now A WAITRO Member



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

IISc Researchers Develop Portable Device To Detect TB Tuberculosis is detected using a DNA Based test called NAAT- Nucleic Acid Amplification Test.


Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru researchers Dr. Bhushan J Toley and his Ph.D. scholar Navjot Kaur have now developed a compact, stand-alone and portable device that promises to overcome the limitation by drastically cutting down the costs. IISc Portable TB Device- The Principle of the Device The new device uses the principle called LAMP detection or Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification of the DNA of the TB bacteria present in infected samples. The screening uses a fluorescence reporter material that latches on to the amplified bacterial DNA.

The images obtained from the camera are coupled to a quantitative software which gives the degree of infection.

Although the sensitivity is excellent, the device requires further refinement to improve the specificity. Dr. Toley added that they are further developing the specificity of the device to reduce The readings are taken by using a the rate of false-positive results. low-cost UV torch to detect fluorescence response and is coupled to a After the IISc Portable TB Device, mobile camera to capture the images. an app-based readout is also on the cards. The IISc researchers, along with Dr. Joy S. Michael from Christan Medical College, Vellore, have performed a ‘blind test’ on 30 clinical samples. They have found the device to be 100% sensitive to the infected samples. The IISc portable TB device has several layers of acrylic sheets attached by a double-sided pressure-sensitive adhesive. The layers of acrylic sheets are designed to create cavities within which tiny glass fiber discs are embedded. The reaction for the detection of tuberculosis DNA occurs within these paper discs. It consists of dried reagents and fluorescence material The DNA samples of the patient’s sputum are placed in the discs of IISc Portable TB Device & incubated for about one hour. Later, the top layer is peeled off, and the fluorescent material is added. The UV light activates green – colored fluorescence in the infected samples, and the mobile camera captures the images.

The Device Developed By IISc Researchers. Credits: India News Wire


December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107


Scientists Develop Vaccine For Pancreatic Cancer Scientists from Zhengzhou University and the Queen Mary University of London have developed a personalized vaccine system that could help delay the onset of pancreatic cancer as well as prevent it. THE STUDY PROVIDES A STRONG PROOF-OF-CONCEPT FOR THE CREATION OF A VACCINE FOR CANCER PREVENTION IN INDIVIDUALS AT HIGH RISK OF DEVELOPING THIS PANCREATIC CANCER. By Rahul Mishra

The Vaccine For Pancreatic Cancer will also help in delaying the tumor development for the patient’s already affected by pancreatic cancer. Although vaccines do exist for some cancers caused by viruses such as the human papillomavirus in cervical remove their ability to form tumors cancer, vaccination against non-viral within the body, including activattumors has remained a challenge. ing the immune system against these cells. Zhengzhou University and the Queen Mary University of London The cells died following injection scientists created a vaccine system into the mice, after which the cells that almost doubled the survival time release antigens specific to these panof mice having pancreatic cancer. creatic cancer cells. This leads to an Moreover, the vaccine system can be immune response. personalized for the individual and could potentially be tailored to work By injecting these virus-infected against other types of cancer. cells into mice that were destined to Professor Yaohe Wang from the Queen Mary University of London said that the lack of appropriate tumor antigens hugely limits the Development of a preventive vaccine against non-viral cancers. He added that through this international collaboration between Scientists from Zhengzhou University and the Queen Mary University of London have made progress towards the development of a prophylactic cancer vaccine against pancreatic cancer. The Trials in Mice Models To make the vaccine, the group of international scientists took cells from mice & induced pancreatic cancer in the cells by adding two errors into their genetic code. These mutations, are known as drivers of pancreatic cancer The team of researchers then infected these cells with viruses, which have an essential role in the vaccine system. The viruses kill the cells to

rate of pancreatic cancer is a lack of symptoms; or the delay in diagnosis. Potential For Personalized Vac- This suggests a window of opportunity for the application of preventative cine vaccine strategies. The genetic makeup of cancer varies from across individuals. This means Although the research is in its early treatments that are effective for one stage, it has the potential to become a patient may not be effective against personalized as well as the preventive vaccine for pancreatic cancer. another’s. vaccine.

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the common cancers, develop pancreatic cancer, the team with approximately 5 percent of those of scientists was able to delay the on- diagnosed surviving for more than set of cancer that resulted in doubling five years. their survival time when compared with subjects who did not receive the One reason for this low survival

The team will now look at different ways of improving the pancreatic cancer vaccine, including increasing the number of vaccinations and combining the vaccine with other therapies such as immunotherapies.



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

First Ever Real-Time Ribosome Assembly Observation by Scientists A research team from the Stanford University and Scripps Research Institute recorded in real-time an essential phase in the ribosome assembly ( Ribosome assembly is a complex process and is the evolutionarily ancient “molecular machines” that makes all the essential proteins in cells for all life forms. THIS ACHIEVEMENT IS REPORTED IN THE JOURNAL CELL... By Prathibha HC

The study reveals detailed information that was never known before about how strands of ribonucleic acid (RNA), which are the cellular molecules that are inherently sticky and prone to misfold, are “chaperoned” by ribosomal proteins into folding precisely and forms one of the main components of ribosomes. Earlier it was believed that the ribosomes are assembled in a strictly controlled and step-wise process. The findings in this study reversed the in the ribosome assembly, can be longstanding belief of ribosome as- now examined in detailed. This process has been a tough study because sembly. of involving many distinct biological Dr. James R. Williamson, a profes- processes that are dependent on each sor in the Department of Integrative other, and they had to be identified toStructural & Computational Biology gether.” at Scripps Research, says, “We revealed a far more chaotic process than The research team made use of “zewhat was seen in the earlier dominant ro-mode waveguide single-molecule theory in the field. The process seems fluorescence microscopy,” which is more like a trading pit on Wall Street an advanced imaging technology. and is not a sleek Detroit assembly This technology has been used by them in recent years for tracking the line.” RNAs and proteins in real-time. Both Williamson’s lab and the lab of Jo- RNA and proteins make up the riboseph Puglisi, Ph.D., a professor at somes, which show a molecular partStanford University, collaborated for nership that is commonly believed to this study. The work is of significant go back almost to the dawn of life in importance in the field of basic cell the world. biology. Along with this, it should also be useful for bringing significant Last year, a proof-of-principle readvancements in medicines. For ex- search study was published, where the ample, inhibiting bacterial ribosomes scientists recorded an early, brief, and is how some of the current antibiotics relatively well-studied stage of ribowork; this new study gives way to the some assembly from the bacterium E. possibilities of creating antibiotics in coli. It was by using the transcription the future, which can target the bacte- or copying its corresponding gene of rial ribosomes with higher specificity a ribosomal RNA and the initial interactions of a ribosomal protein with and with lesser side effects. this strand of RNA. Most importantly, this study gives biologists a novel approach for study- This approach was extended to ing thousands of RNA molecules that this new research study. Here in this study, not just the transcription of a are always active in a typical cell. ribosomal RNA was tracked, but also The first author, Dr. Olivier Duss, it could follow the real-time folding. a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Integrative Structural The research team extended this ap& Computational Biology at Scripps proach in this new study. The tranResearch, says, ” The process of how scription of ribosomal RNA was RNA fold when there are produced tracked along with the tracking of while proteins are assembled on them its real-time folding process. This al-

lowed having an in-depth look at the complex and unknown part of the ribosome assembly of E. coli. With assistance from eight protein partners, a formation of a major component or an entire domain of the E. coli ribosome gave rise to the structure. The significant finding in this study was that before the RNAs nestle into their final positions in the folded RNA-protein molecule, the folding of the RNA strands was guided by the ribosomal protein partners through many temporary interactions with the RNA strand. This discovery leads to the possibility of the presence of unidentified RNA assembly aspects, mostly proteins, that could improve the RNA folding efficiency, and which were absent in their labdish-type imaging experiments but are found in the cells. “Our research study shows that in ribosomal RNA-folding, and perhaps more usually in RNA-folding in cells, numerous proteins help fold RNA though weak, transient and semi-specific interactions with it,” Duss says. This study now allows the researchers to study further not just the remaining ribosome assembly involving various strands of RNA and dozens of proteins. Still, it also lets them examine many different types of RNA-folding and RNA-protein interactions in cells. On the whole, this study can help in identifying RNA misfolds and can give insights on how to correct such

misfolding. The improper folding of RNA could have links with many diseases or involve the processing of RNAs in the cells. Improvements can be made on the treatments which already target the ribosomes. Some of the present antibiotics, like a class of antibiotics, called aminoglycosides work by binding to the bacterial ribosome sites that are not present on human ribosomes. There can be side effects from such drugs because they can cause damage to the ribosomes of good bacteria, like the ones in the gut. Duss says, “By completely understanding how ribosome assembly is formed and its function in bacteria, we can spare the good bacteria and potentially target a narrower group of harmful bacterial species, avoiding the side effects in patients. Since the ribosome’s functions also include protein markers, they are important to the survival of fast-growing tumor cells. There are already many classes of cancer drugs that work by slowing down the formation of the ribosome. Understanding the human ribosome in a much better way would ultimately enable the ribosome assembly to be targeted more precisely and could potentially block cancer growth.”


December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107


DNA Star for Ultra Sensitive Detection of Dengue Virus Scientists developed a trap for capturing dengue viruses in the bloodstream by folding fragments of DNA into the shape of a five-pointed star with the help of DNA structural nanotechnology. THE TRAP IS NON-TOXIC AS WELL AS IS NATURALLY CLEARED FROM THE SYSTEM. By Namitha Thampi

Once the trap captures the dengue virus, it lights up. This is the most sensitive tool discovered to date that diagnoses mosquito-borne diseases. The work published in Nature Chemistry has the potential to expand to other viruses and modify the trap to kill the viruses it captures. Xing Wang, the corresponding author of the study and assistant professor of chemistry at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute commented that this is the most sensitive way of detecting dengue virus and it is 100 fold efficient compared to clinical tests.

nology, an established technique of folding DNA into desired geometric shapes and objects. Structural DNA nanotechnology offered the team a non-toxic biodegradable alternative for the synthetic polymer to trap the viruses.

The strong binding and specificity of the dengue virus to the trap enables The team designed a five-pointthe early detection of the virus on the ed star-shaped DNA trap that best very first day of infection. matches with the latch points of the virus after mapping various DNA naThis trap could be effective for difnostructural shapes onto images of ferent types of viruses because, in orthe virus. der to attack a cell, the virus must first attach to the cell membrane through Wang attached molecules to which the latch points and then discharge the the latches attach to, called aptamers genetic material into the cell. on the vertices and tips of the DNA star to align with the distribution of In 2016 Robert Linhardt and Jonalatches on the virus. Instead of just than Dordick from Rensselaer conone binding point, ten aptamers bindstructed a synthetic polymer of seing the virus to the star tighten the quence similar to sialic acid to trap star’s hold to the virus. the influenza virus. In the lung, influenza must bind to sialic acid to invade Once the virus attaches to the DNA lung cells. The influenza virus must star, it starts emitting fluorescence fabind to sialic acid on the cell memcilitating the detection of dengue vibrane to attack the cell. The polymer rus through a blood test. mimicked the cell membranes and captured the influenza viruses before Developing a biodegradable DNA it attacked lung cells. star trap is just the first step. This can be later modified to a trap that kills The treatment was effective in the virus once it is bound to the trap. mouse reducing the influenza A morThe team is planning to accomplish tality from 100% to 25% in 14 days. this by reconstructing the DNA starHowever, Dordick and Linhardt, shaped aptamers using the DNA orico-authors of the new study at Rensgami platform. This is the first time selaer Polytechnic Institute foresaw scientists are using DNA nanostructhat the synthetic polymer might be ture for such purpose. But the techtoxic to the body and was likely to be nology is vast and Linhardt expects to rejected as a therapeutic. see it used in many other applications soon. The team overcame this challenge through Structural DNA nanotech-

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824 is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer comprises 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, five schools along with 7,900 students and over 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alum-

ni include a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, five National Medal of Science winners, more than 145 National Academy members, six National Medal of Technology winners, and six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

CSIR-CCMB Novel Discovery Of SCGN Role in Obesity-Induced-Diabetes CCMB SCGN Diabetes Research: Secretagogin Protein Role in Obesity-Induced-Diabetes A RESEARCH STUDY THAT WOULD MAKE THE PATIENTS SMILE! By Rahul Mishra

This is good news for people suffering from obesity-induced-diabetes as a team of scientists from CSIRCCMB, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research- Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology have identified a reason for the increased insulin action in patients. This study shows the role of a protein, called secretagogin (SCGN), which is seen to be responsible for the increased insulin action in obesity-induced diabetes. This SCGN protein is seen binding to insulin and protecting it from many stresses and it adds to insulin’s action by increasing its stability. SCGN protein is found to be present in the same place where insulin is secreted, in the pancreases beta cells.

tion of the protein responsible for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, meaning it can save from neurodegeneration too. Talking about this CCMB SCGN Diabetes Research study’s implications, Dr. Sharma said, ” The chances of immune reactions are low as this protein is our own protein given to us. For both types of diabetes, this protein has a very strong therapeutic potential and thus we have named this therapy as secretagogin therapy. The data showed that if we keep giving this therapy the beta cells start regenerating.”

While speaking with the India Science Wire, the lead researcher from CSIR-CCMB, Dr. Yogendra Sharma says, ” SCGN protein helps in insulin secretion. We have seen this protein to be present with insulin, the protein goes along with insulin wherever it is present. We considered it to have some other role too given that it works in secretion. Generally, in dia- The Director of CCMB, Dr. Rakesh betes, the SCGN protein level is seen Mishra, says ” CCMN researchers to be decreased by blood levels. have discovered a new function of SCGN protein in diabetes biology In the CCMB SCGN diabetes re- while studying the calcium-binding search experiments, it was observed properties of this protein, proving to that if only SCGN protein was inject- be yet another example of how qualed in rats, there was no significant ity basic science can lead to valuable role played in diabetes. Whereas, if applications,” insulin is injected along with this protein, insulin’s effect increased and this Globally, millions of people are afalso enhanced the insulin efficacy. If fected by diabetes. Diabetes is a metinsulin is mixed with this protein, it abolic disorder having a defect in probinds well with insulin, enhancing duction, action or secretion of insulin, insulin’s effect. SCGN prevents the which consequently results in high precipitation of insulin and it works blood glucose levels. Many kinds of equally well in two diabetes types, the cellular stresses can lead to a loss in diabetes type I and types II. the function or structure of insulin, ulIn diabetic patients, the chances of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases are higher as there is a correlation between neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes. In these diseases, the SCGN protein level decreases. SCGN protein doesn’t allow the precipita-

timately leading to diabetes.


December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107


Lab-on-a-chip Drug Monitoring Technology Developed By Scientists Researchers from the University of California, Irvine have developed a “lab on a chip” Drug monitoring platform to facilitate continuous, inexpensive, rapid, and personalized drug screening. LAB-ON-A-CHIP DRUG MONITORING TECHNOLOGY IS CAPABLE OF EVALUATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TREATMENTS ON CANCER CELLS WITHOUT BULKY READOUT EQUIPMENT OR REQUIRING THE SHIPMENT OF SAMPLES TO LABS. By Rahul Mishra

The study has been published in the America Chemical Society journal Analytical Chemistry. Rahim Esfandyarpour, UCI assistant professor of electrical engineering & computer science, said that there is an increase in the need for simplified and low-cost identification of a timization of the patient’s treatment. patient’s cancer resistance and medication efficacy before and throughout He said that most current approaches to drug efficacy testing require extreatment. pensive imaging, lab work, and largeHe added that the new “lab on chips” scale cell culture experiments. another step toward potentially enabling the personalized screening of Vanessa Velasco, a Stanford Unidrug efficacy on individual patients’ versity postdoctoral researcher and samples. This will result in better op- the co-author of the paper, said that

Lab-on-a-chip Drug Monitoring is an initial prototype that the team hopes to further develop in the future into personalized medicine tools for cancer patients facing drug resistance.

done in parallel with the continuous characterization of the potential effectiveness of therapeutic agents custom-made for patients.

The result of using the Lab-on-a-chip The lab-on-a-chip technology em- Drug Monitoring technology should ploys advanced electrical & electro- significantly reduce the time and cost chemical techniques to precisely ma- associated with treating cancer. nipulate cancer cells of interest. This is



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

New Antibiotic From Worms- “Best Weapon” Against Superbugs Researchers at Northeastern University College of Science have discovered a new antibiotic that could treat infections caused by some of the deadly superbugs humanity is facing. A TEAM OF RESEARCHERS LED BY UNIVERSITY DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR KIM LEWIS OF BIOLOGY ANNOUNCED NEW ANTIBIOTIC FROM WORMS– DAROBACTIN, WHICH CAN KILL GRAM-NEGATIVE ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BACTERIA. By Rahul Mishra

The discovery promises to be a much-needed weapon in the war of drug-resistant bacteria. AMR is estimated to cause 700,000 deaths each year worldwide.

Kim Lewis, University Distinguished Professor of biology in the College of Science, and Yu Imai, a postdoctoral research associate at Lewis’ lab. Credits: Northeastern University

Yu Imai, a postdoc research associate in Lewis’ lab, discovered the compound from Photorhabdus. These microorganisms live inside the gut of a tiny parasitic worm found in soil.

of antibiotics that target gram-negative bacteria. This New Antibiotic From Worms gives us a ray of hope to combat superbugs.

It’s the first time that the animal microbiome was found to harbor an antibiotic that promises to be useful for humans.

The outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria is built with the help of an essential protein that sits on the surface of the cell. This protein is known as BamA.

It works like a gumball machine that opens & closes a gate to dispense chewing gum. In gram-negative microorganisms, BamA opens and closes a gate periodically, taking in freshly made proteins and inserting them into the protective membrane. New Antibiotic From Worms- Darobactin targets that open-and-close mechanism of the bacteria.

The scientists expect darobactin to follow in the steps of teixobactin, which is on track to enter clinical trials. And, he says, there might be more antibiotics waiting to be discovered, including additional ones that target BamA.

The team of scientists cured mice in the laboratory using this antibiotic without any significant side effects. The newly discovered antibiotic from worms breathes new life into the search for a solution to the global antimicrobial resistance crisis. The molecule has a unique structure as well as an unusual mode of action that make it particularly effective against gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have an outer membrane that shields them from commonly used antibiotics. This is the reason why gram-negative bacteria are at the top of a list of “priority” pathogens by the WHO that need to be targeted with new antibiotics. Bacteria can also acquire additional antibiotic resistance mechanisms from other microorganisms, which can make them impervious primarily to currently available antibiotics. This process is known as horizontal gene transmission wherein bacteria pick up DNA from the environment and incorporate it into their genomes. It has been more than five decades since the introduction of the last class

Kim Lewis and Yu Imai hold a petri dish encasing darobactin, a new type of antibiotic that can selectively kill Gram-negative bacteria. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University


December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107


Nucleoli Movements Of Cell Keeps Them In Shape – Latest Discovery Researchers identify the nucleoli movement having an effect on the shape of cells. A TEAM OF RESEARCHERS HAS FOUND THAT THE HEALTH OF CELLS IS MAINTAINED BY TWO TYPES OF MOVEMENT OF THEIR NUCLEOLI. By Prathibha HC

What contributes to healthy cell functions and what effects will the human health face if this is disrupted can be understood by this dual motion within a surrounding fluid. The senior author of the study and an assistant professor in New York University’s Department of Physics, Alexandra Zidovska explains nucleolar malfunction could lead to diseases including cancer. Therefore, to create new diagnostics and therapies for certain human afflictions, it is important to understand the process responsible for the maintenance of nucleolar shape and motion. Discoveries made recently show that some of the cellular components, that was seen previously as necessary for holding a cell together did not have membranes. Since then, scientists have been trying to understand the forces that maintain the integrity of the cells without these membranes and have finally found a link between the nucleoli movement and cell shape. The nature of this behavior has been observed. Similar to oil and water, these compartments act as liquid droplets made of a material that does not mix with the fluid surrounding them. This process is called liquid-liquid separation. This process is now one of the key cellular organizing principles. The best-known example of such a cellular liquid was considered in this study. The nucleolus, which is vital to protein synthesis in the cell, residing inside the cell nucleus, was focused upon in this study. Zidovska, who co-authored the study with Shannon Haley, an undergraduate in NYU’s College of Arts and Science at the time of the work and now a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley and Christina Caragine, an NYU doctoral student, explains, “This liquid-like nature of the nucleolus has been studied earlier but its relationship with the

surrounding liquid remains unknown. Considering the surrounding liquid, the nucleoplasm containing the entire human genome, this relationship is particularly fascinating. Yet, how the two fluids interact with each other is unclear. In order to understand this dynamic better, the researches observed the fusion and motion of human nucleoli in live human cells along with monitoring their size, shape, and smoothness of their surface. The team had created the method for studying the fusion of the nucleolar droplets in 2018 and this was reported in the Physical Review Let-

ters journal. Their most recent study shows two types of nucleolar pair movements or “dances”, which is an unexpected correlated motion before its fusion and individual motion. They also found that the nucleolar interface smoothness is susceptible to both changes in the packing state of the genome surrounding the nucleoli and the gene expression. Zidovska says, “The biggest droplet inside the cell nucleus, Nucleolus, serves a crucial role in stress response, human aging and in general protein synthesis while it exists in

this special state. As the nucleoli are surrounded by fluid containing our genome, the nucleoli movement stirs the genes around them. The genome in the surrounding fluid and nucleoli exist in a sensitive balance. Therefore, any change in either the genome or the nucleoli can influence the other. If this state is disrupted, it can potentially lead to disease.” This study appeared in the eLife journal. The National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health supported by grants to this research.



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

New Way To Study Origin Of Life – Chemical Based Evidence The Leaf Shape Mechanism Discovery, decodes the diversity in leaf shapes, revealing nature’s mechanism of creating diverse leaf patterns. EVERY DAY WE SEE VARIOUS KINDS OF LEAVES HAVING DIVERSE LEAF SHAPES AND PATTERNS. THINKING OF HOW EACH TYPE OF PLANT HAS A PARTICULAR LEAF SHAPE AND DESIGN HAS KEPT US WONDERING. By Prathibha HC

This research study reveals the leaf shape mechanism of all plants. A carnivorous plant known as Utricularia gibba (bladderwort) was used in this study. Utricularia gibba plant has evolved an unusual leaf shape. The leaves of this plant cup-shaped leaves and it has trap-doors for catching prey. To understand the general principle by which plants produce their leaves, a team of scientists from the John Innes Centre has been using aquatic plants as their model trying to investigate the mechanism in making its leaf shape. In this study, it was identified that the simple gene shifts in gene activity at the leaf bud provide a mechanism that is flexible, and that allows the leaves to be produced in all shapes and sizes are made. Professor Enrico Coen of the John Innes Centre says, “This study has led to the discovery of a general principle by which the leaves from flat sheets to needle-like and curved shapes are formed.” It is found through a simple shift in the gene activity in the leaf bud, the complex leaf shapes of carnivorous plants are evolved from species having flat leaves. It is surprising to know that a simple mechanism can be the reason behind such a vast diversity of leaf shapes. Previously, Professor Coen’s lab research had identified a polarity field– a kind of inbuilt cellular compass – which directs growth and shaping of the leaf from a sheet of cells. The formation of cellular sheets, the identification of a second polarity field and also the domains of gene activity involved in setting it up were discovered by using molecular genetics analysis and computer modeling.

Several needle-like leaflets along with a trap are found on each leaf of Utricularia gibba. Analyzing them, it was seen that the initiation and the development of the trap were dependent on the gene activity, and this was restricted to a small area. The development of traps failed without these restrictions, and there was only the formation of needle-like leaflets. This study presented a model where such gene activity shifts gave rise to a polarity field which oriented the tissue growth in plants. Altogether, it showed a simple mechanism that ex-

plains the diverse leaf forms and the formation of cup-shaped leaves from flat leaves. You may ask why to study a cupshaped leaf to find the general principle of making leaves. Answering this, Professor Coen explains, “If you want to understand why water boils at 100oC, you have to look for situations where it doesn’t, like the top of Mount Everest where it boils at 70oC. By doing this, we can know that the boiling point of water has the general principle that the boiling point depends on the air pressure. Likewise,

to understand the reason why most leaves are flat, studying the exceptions like the leaves of some carnivorous plants is beneficial. Plants sustain life on the planet by harvesting light and providing us energy and food. The flatness of leaves is an essential factor in how plants mechanism works. Understanding the principle of leaf formation and leaf shape mechanism, scientists have a better go at developing sustainable crops. This study appears in Science.


December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107


IAN-BIRAC Launches BioAngels – India’s First BioTech Focused Angel Funding Network In a bid to unlock the immense potential of the Indian biotech industry, BIRAC-Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council, in partnership with Indian Angel Network, has launched “BioAngels” at the Global Bio India 2019. THIS PLATFORM AIMS TO BE THE SINGLE LARGEST NATIONAL PLATFORM FOR BIOTECH ANGEL INVESTING. By Rahul Mishra

The announcement -IAN-BIRAC Launches BioAngels- comes at a crucial juncture for the Indian biotech industry, which is being driven by a level of dynamism that only a few other sectors have been able to achieve globally. Over the last decade (BIRAC), a notfor-profit Public Sector Enterprise, has led the biotech industry to cross multiple milestones. Worth $50 billion in 2018, the Indian bio-economy currently comprises over 600 + core biotech companies as well as 2700+ startups. This accounts for a 3 percent share in the global biotechnology industry. IAN-BIRAC Launches BioAngels- Advantage of BioAngels By combining the power of regulatory vision and angel investment, such initiatives aim to strengthen and assist BIRAC in escalating the growth of the Indian bioeconomy, enabling it to surpass $100 billion by 2025. The first-of-its-kind focused funding program will accomplish this by facilitating budding innovators with access to capital, mentorship, and growth opportunities. Digvijay Singh, COO, IAN, said that he was delighted to collaborate with BIRAC to set up India’s first BioAngels Network. Dr. Manish Diwan, Head- Strategic Partnership & Entrepreneurship Development, BIRAC, said that Indian Biotech start-ups are focused on creating a transformational impact in India. They hold the key to unlocking a healthier, tech-driven future for India, along with the unparalleled potential of digital healthcare. IAN-BIRAC Launches BioAngels- What Is IAN? Indian Angel Network (IAN) is India’s first and world’s largest business angel network with close to 500

members across the globe, comprising successful entrepreneurs and dynamic CEOs. With investors from 11

countries, IAN’s presence spans 7 locations, which includes cities in India and the UK.

IAN-BIRAC Launches BioAngels is expected to give a significant boost to the Indian Biotech Industry.



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

Piramal & Bill Melinda Gates Foundation Join Hands For Tribal Health Collaborative Piramal Foundation has announced its collaboration with Bill & Melinda Gates to set up a tribal health program to improve the health and nutrition among the tribal and high burden districts of India. THE TRIBAL HEALTH COLLABORATIVE PLANS TO WORK ALONG WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL (SDG) 3 BY 2030. SDG3 ENSURES HEALTHY LIVES AND WELL BEING FOR PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AND ALL COMMUNITIES. By Pratibha HC

The initiative will support the Government of India by supporting and matching its efforts in the direction of attaining Universal Health Coverage. Piramal collaborates with Gates foundation to build a productive, sustainable health environment that would address the health requirements of those who were forced to the edge of society especially more than 150 million tribes across the country. The founder of the Piramal Foundation, Ajay Piramal expressed their commitment towards supporting the Government of India to achieve SDG3 by 2030. They will be focused on improving the lives of marginalized sections rapidly to accelerate the impact on society. This is not the first time the Piramal foundation is working for the tribals of India. The foundation had been working for the tribes across the country and in the 25 Aspirational Districts. However, taking into consideration the magnitude and complexity of tribal issues, the Piramal foundation decided to join hands with value-based organizations like Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which will provide much faster results. Bill Gates, the co-chairman of Gates foundation said that India’s initiative for providing standard nutrition and health to everyone in the country is crucial for the world’s efforts to achieve SDG3 by 2030. And the foundation will look forward to work with the governments to ameliorate the health and well being of the poorest in the world. The health indicators of India’s tribals are poor compared to the common population. India’s average maternal mortality rate is 130 deaths per 100,000 births while that of tribal

community is 230 deaths per 100,000 births. Not just the maternal mortality rate, but other health indicators like child

malnutrition rates, the incidence of malaria and tuberculosis and infant mortality rates are much higher among tribal communities.

The collaborative will be launched in 2020 with the participation of Piramal and Gates foundation along with other partners to be announced


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CSIR-NEIST Mosquito Repellent Herbal Candles Are Here To The Rescue! Researchers from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research- North East Institute of Science & Technology, Jorhat have developed herbal candles with extracts of plants that possess mosquito repellent properties. MOSQUITO REPELLENTS AVAILABLE FOR DOMESTIC PURPOSES ARE MAINLY SYNTHETIC PRODUCTS AND ARE NOT RECOMMENDED FOR SUSTAINED USE. By Rahul Mishra

Dr. Jatin Kalita, research planning & business development head, CSIRNEIST, said commercially used mosquito repellants are synthetic pyrethroids, which are less harmful than commonly used insecticides. However, it may cause harm in case of prolonged usage. The Herbal Candles may be useful for rural areas as rural populations commonly use wax candles as alternate light sources. Therefore, an attempt was made by the scientists to prepare wax candles having mosquito repellent properties. Readily available non-toxic herbal sources have been used as ingredients of mosquito repellent. The candle emits a distinct pleasant fragrance along with the light. Dr.

Kalita added that the scent keeps mosquito out from the room & provides considerable protection from mosquitoes. It is an environment-friendly & economical product as the CSIRNEIST Herbal Candles are made using naturally available materials. Additionally, the CSIR-NEIST Herbal Candles can be used as an air freshener as it emits a pleasant fragrance. Mosquito repellent candle is ideal for a room of 10 feet by 15 feet

to drive away mosquitoes. The candle emits a distinct pleasant fragrance along with the light. Dr. Kalita added that the scent keeps mosquito out from the room & provides considerable protection from mosquitoes. It is an environment-friendly & economical product as the CSIRNEIST Herbal Candles are made using naturally available materials. Additionally,



Herbal Candles can be used as an air freshener as it emits a pleasant fragrance. Mosquito repellent candle is ideal for a room of 10 feet by 15 feet to drive away mosquitoes. Dr. Kalita added that CSIR-NEIST Herbal Candles would soon be available for public use in the local Indian market.



December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

What is Medical Biotechnology? Career Prospects Discussed Medical biotechnology is a combination of different science-oriented subjects, namely Cell Biology, Genetics, Nanotechnology, Bioinformatics, etc., to carry out advancements in the field of medicine. IT MAKES USE OF RECOMBINANT DNA TECHNOLOGY IN DIFFERENT THERAPEUTIC FORMS. By Divya

In medical biotechnology, one learns how diseases affect the human body at the cellular level. Its aim is prevention and treatment of the disorders, thereby increasing the lifespan of an individual; for example- improving the accessibility for people with disabilities. They use living cells as well as cell materials in their research and develop pharmaceutical and diagnostic products, which will be useful for the treatment and prevention of diseases – thus offering a lot of scope for a Career in Medical Biotechnology. The most significant advantage of using this technique is that it can overcome the problems of graft rejection. One of the typical examples is the production of insulin. During the initial days, insulin was made from the pancreas of pigs and cattle, which lead to immunological reactions. Still, Medical Biotechnology solved this problem by producing insulin from E.coli by genetic engineering. Medical biotechnology is also called Red biotechnology because of its application in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals like vaccines, enzymes, antibiotics, etc.; as well as for molecular diagnostic purposes. These applications offer a lot of careers in Medical Biotechnology. Various applications of medical biotechnology include: • • • • • • •

Pharmacology Gene therapy Stem cells Tissue engineering Monoclonal antibodies Bioprocessing Genome sequencing

Pharmacology: One of the new and growing fields is pharmacology in combination with biotechnology. It includes the principles of biotechnology for the development of drugs. A vast number of therapeutic drugs that come in the

market are bio formulations like nucleic acid products, antibodies, and vaccines. These bio formulations are developed in multiple steps i.e. it includes considering the principles related to health and disease, the molecular mechanism conducted in relation to function of biomolecules, their synthesis, and purification, determining the shelf life of the product, their stability, immunogenicity and toxicity, drug delivery systems, clinical trials as well as patenting. Gene therapy: It involves the use of DNA as a pharmaceutical agent to treat a particular disease. Mainly it involves replacing a mutated gene with a therapeutic gene. Gene therapy has made significant advances over the past two decades. Within a short duration, it has transformed from a theoretical stage to a technological phase as well as clinical trials against a variety of deadly diseases. The most notable advancement included gene therapy for many genetic disorders like Severe combined Immunodeficiency, Chronic granulomatous disorder, Hemophilia, Cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Influenza, HIV, and many more acquired diseases. For a Career in Medical Biotechnology – thorough knowledge of this filed is a must. Stem Cells: A stem cell is a cell that has the potential to develop into any cell type in the human body. Usually, stem cells are introduced into the damaged are-

as of the body where, under the right conditions, it will be replacing the damaged area. More often, these stem cells are grown in the lab, first to ensure the proper condition, and after that, it is inserted into the sick person. The main area where the stem cells have proven their worth is in bone marrow transplants, replacing damaged heart tissue after a heart attack and replacing damaged nerve tissue for those having spinal cord injury. Stem cells are currently being used for the treatment of many diseases right from Crohn’s disease to baldness. The richest source of stem cells is from the embryo itself. Stem cell research is a major source of Careers in Medical Biotechnology Tissue engineering: It involves the creation of human tissues outside the body for later use. Tissue engineers so far have created bone marrow, artificial skin, and cartilage. Currently, people are working on creating artificial liver, bladder, and pancreas. Monoclonal antibodies: They are named so because they are clones of an individual parent cell. And basically, antibodies are the proteins that attack invading pathogens. Its a vital tool for finding small molecules in biological samples.

genes are inserted into the mouse • The mouse is infected, making it produce antibody-producing cells, i.e. B -cells. • These cells are removed from the mouse and fused with a tumor cell. • Now we have a tumor cell consistently producing antibodies, and many cells like it. The advantage of this monoclonal antibody is that they are trained to target markers that show up cancer features and keeps on destroying them. There are many protein therapeutics developed so far which includes insulin for diabetes, somatotropin and somatostatin for growth disorders, erythropoietin for anaemia, tumor necrosis factor for cancers, interferons for controlling viral infections, lymphokines like Interleukin-2 which has the ability to restore the immune system to fight against cancer, certain infections and some diseases etc. Bioprocessing: It is one of the current areas of research wherein mass production of human proteins, vaccines, etc. are made by genetically modifying bacteria and viruses. This leads to the production in large quantities of the desired product within a short period of time with relatively less expenditure. One of the significant applications of

Steps involved in making these: • Human


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Bioprocessing is insulin, the human protein which is responsible for reducing the blood sugar level after intake of food. They did this by placing the human gene for insulin in bacteria, cultured, and allowed to produce insulin, which is collected, purified, and sold to diabetes worldwide. For a Career in Medical Biotechnology – lot of scopes exist in the bioprocessing field. Genome Sequencing : One of the future approaches of medical biotechnology is in genome sequencing. Years back, a research team had mapped the entire DNA sequence of human chromosome 22. Thereafter technology has become so advanced that the number of genomes was either wholly or partially sequenced. In fact, doctors can identify whether a particular was inherited from one generation to the other.

A career in Medical Biotechnology: Scope There are various career scopes available for students who are pursuing or wish to pursue their future in Medical Biotechnology: • One can become an Assistant Professor at any University. • For doing research /Ph.D. In either of the cases, one must clear CSIR NET Exam, which provides fellowship to those opting for Ph.D. as well as those who are looking for Assistant Professor jobs in Universities. • One can find jobs in pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, diagnostic centers because the demand for people who can handle equipment and with excellent technical knowledge is more in

these sectors. Nowadays, standard medicine has failed to cure many of the dreadful diseases like cancer, organ transplantation, neural disorders, etc. so hospitals are recruiting research teams to produce medicine that is specific for microbes so that it can provide better opportunities in saving the life of a person. • One can make a Career in Medical Biotechnology by working in Research and development in laboratories. • Since the medical biotechnology works on areas like mycology, immunohematology, immunology, clinical chemistry, parasitology, hematology, urinalysis, bacteriology, etc. so one can also go for clinical trials • Certain manufacturing sectors of biotechnology, for the production of vaccines, production of monoclonal antibodies, fermen-


tation, manufacture of recombinant DNA based products, etc. Basically scope depends on the will, knowledge, and skill of the individual. According to the reports of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2026 Medical Biotechnology is expected to rise more, giving a huge number of job openings. Thus managers in the health and medical services will have a good pay scale. Medical biotechnology is one of the rarest disciplines, there is a lack of trained workforce. Thus in the upcoming years, there will be an urge for the requirement of well trained and skilled medical and biotech freshers. If the growth rate progresses, then there will be a day when medical biotechnology will become a pillar in the field of health science.

How To Make The Most Out Of Scientific Conferences? What Can You Expect Other Than Lectures and Coffee? How to make the most of any Scientific Conferences?


Look no further! This article will give an insight into what are scientific conferences – its importance, benefits, and the value of a scientific conference in your academic life. Firstly, What is a Scientific Conference, and why should you consider attending one? Scientific conferences are events for researchers or scientists to present and discuss their research work. Scientific conferences are held every year, nationally and internationally, all around the world. The conferences are usually organized either by universities, educational institutes, scientific society, or by a group of researchers with a common interest. The scientific conferences are impor-

tant because it provides opportunities to meet people, exchange or develop ideas, new strategies to approach your research, establish collaborations, getting suggestions about their work, and get inspired. Conferences are both overwhelming and intimidating with many benefits. Especially when there aren’t many people at your university or institution conducting related research as yours. Also, these conferences are beneficial for learning about new research areas and journal publications. Conferences can be of different sizes. A small conference may last only for a day and involves

only one session at a time. In contrast, a large conference may last for more than one day and may have various parallel sessions having speakers in separate rooms speaking at the same time. In some conferences, cultural programs or entertainment activities such as city tours can be a part of the program. Types of Scientific conferences: Scientific conferences typically fall into three categories: • The most common are the

themed conference. These are small conferences that are organized around a particular scientific topic. • Next is the general conference. These conferences are with a broader focus, with sessions on a wide variety of topics. These conferences are organized by either regional, national, or international learned societies. These types of conferences are held annually or on some other regular

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basis. • The professional conference, these are also large conferences but not limited to academics but with academically related issues.

colleagues, it will be challenging to network or engage with others. But it will be useful in terms of getting an opportunity to get to know other people, making new contacts with other people having the same work area or different.

To attend a conference, a lot of planning has to be done. Let’s discuss the importance of planning and Choosing Sessions of the Scientific what needs to be considered – Scien- Conference tific Conference Importance If the conference has multiple parImportance of Choosing the con- allel sessions in one time block, then ference you want to attend? one has to look for a session on a topic that interests him/her but doesn’t have The choice of attending a conference much knowledge about it. Many recan be made based on the conference searchers get scared in attending sesattended by their professors or seniors sions on new topics with which they in the past or the same as their peers are not very familiar. As a result, they are attending. Also, conferences can end up just attending a session with be preferred over others, depending familiar speakers or content. In order on their research work area. Some at- to understand the Scientific Confertend those conferences in which you ence Importance – It is also essential can meet those people whose papers to understand that if one has invested they have read or who work at insti- time and money to be at this confertutions in which you want to become ence, one should be trying to expand a part of the future. For some, they their horizons. Some researchers realprefer to attend conferences where ly find it difficult to choose, so in that they wish to present their research case, your colleagues may help. It’s that one Scientific Conference Impor- better to split up and agree to comtancewishes to influence or be part of. pare notes at the end of the day. If you Also, conference size (small or large are attending a conference alone, then attendees, a single session or con- use a breakfast or tea break to find a current sessions), cost, duration (one friend at the conference and see if he day or more), and venue (national or or she can make a similar arrangeinternational) matters when going to ment. choose between attending a conference. Before going into a conference, Importance of Preparing an Abmake sure that you research about stract certain things like on what the conference is about, where it is held, is there A vital step to attend any conference any dress code you need to follow, if is to prepare an abstract. You should yes, than what the dress code looks have some data that can be presented like, any documents are required like at a conference. So make an abstract your university/institute ID, who will of your work and ensure that the data be the speakers, and what sessions is new and not presented in any conyou’d like to attend once you’re there. ference. Don’t forget to check out the website where details of the conference are Benefits of Presentations in a Scigiven. This will save you from some entific Conference: confusion or embarrassment later on. Conferences usually involve variGoing Alone or with your Col- ous presentations. Typically, any releagues? searcher who wants to present his/her work in the conference has to submit This is a very important point when an abstract of their work, which will it comes to – Scientific Conference Scientific Conference Importancebe Importance. Going with or without reviewed by the organizing commityour colleagues can be advantageous tee of the conference. The research as well as disadvantageous. If you are work to be presented should be relatgoing with your professors or seniors, ed to the subject on which the conferthen it would be beneficial as they ence is based. can introduce you to their colleagues so, it becomes more accessible to the The presentations in the conference network. Also, if you are with your have a specific time limit given to peers, then it is useful as you already each speaker (usually 10-30 minutes have some to give your company and except Keynote speaker), followed also attending with your colleagues is by a discussion. Conferences may cost-effective when it comes to shar- also feature round tables on different ing a hotel room. However, if you are issues, panel discussions, workshops, attending the conference without your and poster sessions. In some confer-

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ences, the presented work may be written in a form as academic papers and published as conference proceedings. Travel Grants Benefits in attending conferences The first thing we think of is cost, and if there is a local conference, it doesn’t cost much, but the price is a constraint when you are going to some other state or internationally. The conference attending fees, transport, staying arrangement (if you are doing for yourself) are various factors that one has to plan. The solution for this problem is travel grants that are available to encourage researchers to attend the conferences nationally or internationally as these conferences help in the exchange of ideas as well as help in culture meet. Travel awards or grants can be provided by the universities or by conferences itself. But, to be eligible for the conference award, one has to be a member of the conference society. Government funding agency like Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Department of Science and Technology (DST) also provides travel awards or grants such as CSIR Partial Financial Assistance Scheme, DBT-Conference, Travel, Exhibition and popular lectures (CTEP), etc. Importance and Benefits of Discussion Many researchers make unrealistic schedules for themselves that don’t include time to unwind or socialize. Also, try not doing too many things at the same time. many people fail to understand the Scientific Conference Importance when it comes to this segment. Conferences are much beneficial when some work related to your field is discussed and most importantly in these conferences; the discussion panels are beneficial as it allows young researchers to ask questions related to their work and find solutions for them. Talking to other researchers, scientists will help one build their self-confidence. Coffee breaks are a great way to have a conversation about your research work or meet people and friends. Scientific research careers are not an easy path, but it becomes more comfortable when you have support and empathy from peers. It’s always good to hear different researcher’s perspectives and to know about how to pursue specific careers. Finally, when you go for a Conference:

• Make sure your draft of your talk or poster (in case of poster presentation). • Read the work of some of the other scientists. Scientific conferences are not only meant for presenting your work, attend other lectures/ presentations as it will help you understand what else is going all around. • If you are attending the conference away from your place, get some time to explore the surroundings, especially if it is in a place where you have never been to before. • Also, make sure that you don’t hang out only with your labmates and colleagues from your university or department. Don’t miss the opportunity to build new connections. What to do Post-conference The last step is to what to do after the conference is over to get the maximum benefit out of it. One of the crucial things is to follow the new contacts that you have made while Scientific Conference Importanceattending the conference. Research Gate, Linkedln are social networks where you can follow the researchers and follow their work. Also, make sure to write down important ideas that came to a head, as they’ll often slip away soon after one leaves that creative environment. Follow up with any contacts made at the conferences is also essential. Significant events such as scientific conferences can be overwhelming, so if one doesn’t follow up early, the people whom you have met in the conference might have already forgotten your face. Remember, conferences are not only about lectures or coffee but much more than that. This article was focused on Scientific Conference Importance. While the above-listed points are very much crucial but the conference is not just limited to these. Its all about exploration and keeping & open mind to learn new things. So, I hope, whenever you plan to go to attend any conference, this article will help you not only choose the conferences but how to prepare and how to make the best out of it.


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How to Make a Career in Biomanufacturing Sector – Requirements Discussed If you are looking for biotechnology job opportunities, Biomanufacturing filed is an emerging field that offers a large number of career opportunities for you.


The harnessing of such biological things enables us to manufacture products using the complexity and power of nature, which otherwise cannot be built using non-bio, chemical, or synthetic processes. Biomanufacturing uses biological systems like cell cultures and microorganisms to produce commercial biomaterials. Jobs in the field of Biomanufacturing A considerable percentage of biomanufacturing is related to medical products, which has been undoubtedly useful in advanced therapies and regenerative medicine. But the influence of biomanufacturing extends far down to history. For a Career in Biomanufacturing Sector, this knowledge are important. Even before the invention of genetic engineering techniques, people had been using natural cultures of microorganisms to manufacture food products like bread, wines, and cheeses. Livestock and agriculture farming were also biomanufacturing fuels, feedstocks, and other materials required. Today, biomanufacturing is an interdisciplinary field that combines mechanical engineering, chemicals, software, robotics, microbiology, biochemistry, and also the new members to the field, such as synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and functional genomics. Thus providing numerous Career opportunities in the Biomanufacturing Sector. With the emergence of new techniques, the commercial field requires the expertise to design the industry to develop and automate existing processes, allow easy integration into the target industry systems, and provide real-time analysis of manufacturing workflows. Although the biotechnology indus-

try has been presumably poised for growth for a long time, for many qualified applicants, the biotechnology jobs were hard to find. One reason is that biotechnology encloses a mountain of specializations career choices. With the ever-changing technology, one would not find the “hot” job if you try to match your skills with what is in demand at that moment. Its high time you step back and understand the trends in the biotech field. What would be most trending right now that will be a game-changer in your career in the biotech industry? Industries are maturing continuously, and the industries who hired in research or drug development are now recruiting to design the manufacturing facilities that will bring their products to the market. Such jobs often fall under biomanufacturing. The Career in Biomanufacturing Sector range from bachelor’s degree– level positions in factory operations to Ph.D. roles that require extensive technical knowledge and critical thinking skills to rectify and troubleshoot manufacturing plant problems. Both science and engineering graduates are hired for such positions. Bachelor’s degree holders are hired as operators for dealing with huge fermenters, filtration, and purification types of equipment. Engineers, as well as master’s degree holders, usually begin their career at the same level, but with the scope of growing to technical support. PhDs, as they are

more skilled concerning technical and thinking abilities, rarely be involved in hands-on production jobs. An often-misunderstood job category – Career in Biomanufacturing Sector Biomanufacturing jobs are most advertised for operator roles requiring only a bachelor’s degree due to which Ph.D.s look dubiously at this category. B.Sc.-level positions are advertised in some other categories, whereas job vacancies for Ph.D.s are often filled via networking. The technological support group is a fundamental part of the production procedure. Also, technical-support tasks would certainly appeal to any person that has a rate of interest in gaining respect and responsibility quickly. Technical specialists are entitled to deal with everyday problems, from analyzing an unexpected decrease in fermenter throughput to checking out feasible sources of contamination in the physical plant. Biotechnology job seekers are often unaware of these career opportunities Getting into biomanufacturing It can be difficult to aim for a biomanufacturing career as you don’t get relevant experiences from the university. But as you land on a job in a company, the opportunities will follow you. One could begin his career in quality control and then move to

technical support or operations eventually. You should gain leadership quality, teamwork, and problem-solving skills to get hired and to excel in your job. If you have experience in the pharmaceutical industry, that can also count for your chance to get hired in biomanufacturing jobs. Those who successfully gained the technical and leadership skills along with some management skills can easily climb up the ladder of his career in biomanufacturing. A bright future for leaders and problem solvers Biomanufacturing produces a variety of biobased products for the arising bioeconomy. Biomanufacturing begins with the search of biotic materials from which valuable products can be obtained. Biomanufacturing demands knowledge and techniques from many scientific disciplines consisting of microbiology, biology, physics, chemistry, biotechnology, engineering, and modern technology. It consists of genetic modification and also metabolic engineering, plus numerous cell and cell culture technologies. Bio-manufactured products range from biopharmaceuticals to commercial enzymes, biofuels, ‘green’ chemicals, human tissues, and replacement organs as well as eco-friendly items to

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December 3rd, 2019 Vol. 03 NO 107

substitute those derived from oil. The application of biotechnology in industrial production is not only reshaping how we manufacture the products, but it’s also creating new proposals, such as making use of microalgae to simultaneously scrub nuclear power plant effluent gases as well as process water while making biofuels to run the nuclear power plant. One more instance is anaerobically transforming cow manure as well as other wastes into gases to generate electrical energy. A career in biomanufacturing venture needs to integrate for a collective initiative to establish high quality in each manufacturing phase. Everyone involved shares the same objective, consistently manufacture high-quality products. Commonly held skill standards, as well as methods, maintain this consistency. Teams create approaches for effectively monitoring manufacturing efficiency. Together, they examine samples to assess each step and consistently manufacture high-quality products. Manufacturing or Process Technician Majority jobs in biomanufacturing fall under production. With a Career in Biomanufacturing Sector, Upstream manufacturing technicians deal with cell growth, cell culture, harvesting cells until fermentation. This consists of measuring, blending the reagents as well as chemicals used to synthesize therapeutic drugs. Downstream manufacturing technicians take care of several cleaning as well as purification steps and other processing procedures. They additionally may run the packaging and also labeling tools. Both must keep precise records for regulative compliance. A bachelor’s degree, combined with experience on the production side of the business, can lead to advancement to quality assurance. Those having a degree with experience in biotechnology jobs can apply for such positions. Validation Specialist A validation specialist safeguards that all devices, utilities, software applications, and manufacturing procedures are bound to regulations, standards as well as specifications. This work requires establishing the methods or procedures, making use of for recognition, and creating records of the findings. According to Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, validation specialists should have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, scientific or technical field associated

The biopharmaceutical manufacturing technology flowchart exemplifying the upstream and the downstream bioprocess.

with biotechnology, and also at least three years of work experience in a regulatory domain.

suggest restorative action.

Quality Control or QC Technicians

Process engineers are responsible for the layout of biomanufacturing procedures, as well as the setup and technical upgrades of equipment used to make lotions, liquid forms of medicines and capsules. A fouryear degree holders are eligible for the same. They design procedures to check product condition during every phase of manufacturing. They may be asked advice to assist in repairing equipment breakdowns. Process engineers manage employees throughout the business, in addition to regulatory agencies, investors, and consumers. They must have strong project management as well as interaction skills.

While validation specialists focus on the “tough” side of production, quality control, microbiology technicians, quality assurance, and chemistry technicians examine finished products, in-process samples, and raw materials. These technicians typically have a degree in biochemistry and biology, microbiology, or chemistry, although some companies might accept fresh graduates with a two-year degree in a biotechnology or laboratory discipline who are looking for biotechnology jobs / Career in Biomanufacturing Sector. Operating in quality control calls for an understanding of federal policies and company procedures. If examination results vary from accepted criteria, quality assurance specialists carry out investigations to find out why and

Process Engineers

ble desire to discover as well as appreciate good manufacturing practices, or GMP: paperwork, tidiness, quality control treatments, equipment verification. Desired abilities include the capability to function individually and also with a team, attention to information as well as excellent interaction skills, both written as well as oral. Conclusion

A career in biomanufacturing sector places you at the center of a sector that utilizes cells of living organisms to generate insulin, vaccinations, as well as life-saving drugs. This includes treatment for anemia, blood clots, and cancer cells. Although biomanufacturing companies work with scientists with advanced degrees for research, Shared Skills and Attributes they additionally depend upon specialists with two-year degrees and enIn addition to being self-motivated, gineers as well as a monitoring team personal responsibility and also lia- with four-year degrees. bility goes to the top of this checklist. Candidate should have an unstoppa-


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How Big Is A Career In Alzheimer’s Research ? Scope & Job prospects The recrudescence is upon us. It’s a very onerous thing for a patient to hear that nothing is left for you, but that is the truthful retaliation. THERE IS NO DISORDER -MODIFYING REMEDIES FOR ALZHEIMER’S. By Dr. Ankita Trivedi

Alzheimer’s disease known as Alzheimer’s only is an accelerating disorder that leads to the degeneration of brain cells, and they finally die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most customary root of dementia: a condition that is associated with a constant decline in thinking, behavioral, and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently. Memory loss is one of the earliest symptoms or signs of Alzheimer’s that include forgetting current incidents. As the disease progresses, acute memory impairment and loss of ability to carry out everyday tasks develop. This is an irreversible, continuous developing brain disorder destroying the ability of a patient to carry out the easiest piece of work. This disorder is ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in various parts of the world; however, some recent research states that Alzheimer’s can reach the third rank following heart disease and cancer as it is the most common cause of death for older age group people. This disorder was named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer who discovered the reason behind the death of a woman due to unusual mental illness. He observed changes in her brain tissues, various abnormal clumps/amyloid plaques were noticed in addition to tangles. Various groups of Scientists are under the research process to find out the actual cure or therapy for this type of disorder. The number of people pursuing a Career in Alzheimer’s Research is expected to increase in a few years. Alzheimer’s Research is one of the most upcoming fields of research as there is no such therapy discovered to date for this disorder, and it is clear that this disorder is responsible for the deaths of most of the older people. Available medications for this disorder can only slow down the rate of diminishing or can improve the symptoms for a shorter period of time. Different Schemes and Facilities are available to support people with Alzheimer’s disorder and their

custodians. No therapeutics cures Alzheimer’s disease or reform the disease operations in the brain. In advanced levels of the disorder, death is the final outcome due to vivid impediments from severe loss of brain function — like malnutrition, infection, or dehydration.

Mild Alzheimer’s Disease:

With the progression of the disorder, memory loss becomes severe, and people experience other related cognitive complexities. This condition is characterized by various symptoms or problems like getting lost and strolling, repeating questions, trouble payAlzheimer’s disease locks all the ing bills and handling money, taking doors and exits. There is no reprieve, longer to manage normal daily tasks, no escape! and behavior and personality changes. People are often diagnosed in this Symptoms and signs associated stage. with Alzheimer’s: Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease: Before talking about Alzheimer’s Research Career, we must under- In this type of Alzheimer’s, the arstand in-depth about this condition. eas of the brain are damaged that The most prominent symptom of this control sensory processing, reasondisorder is Memory loss. Initially, the ing, language, and conscious thought. patient finds difficulty remembering Memory loss and confusion grow or recalling recent events or various worse among the patients and tend to conversations. With the progression have trouble recognizing family and of the disorder, memory disfigure- friends. They might develop difficulment worsens, and other symptoms ty in learning new things, carry out associated with the disorder devel- multi-step tasks like getting dressed, op. There are certain changes linked adjust to new situations. In addition, with Alzheimer’s that lead to growing people at this stage may have paramisfortune with time. Other signs and noia, hallucinations, and delusions symptoms of Alzheimer’s include ab- and may behave impulsively. normalities in, Severe Alzheimer’s Disease : • Thinking and reasoning • Making judgments and decisions Ultimately, plaques and tangles • Planning and performing famil- spread throughout the brain, and brain iar tasks tissue shrinks significantly. People • Changes in personality and be- with severe Alzheimer’s cannot comhavior municate and are completely depend• Preserved skills ent on others for their care. Near the end, the person may be in bed most or Types of Alzheimer’s : all of the time as the body shuts down.

Alzheimer’s Research / Alzheimer’s Research Career: As it has been thought that there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, some researchers are continuously working on finding out therapy to cure this disorder somehow. Biochemists discover new insights into what may go awry in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients There have been more than three decades of Alzheimer’s Research that haven’t lead to any significant advancement in the treatment of this disorder. A distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry Steven Clarke said that ‘Nothing has worked till now, but we’re ready for new ideas.’ Recently, in 2019, some researchers have reported various new perceptions that may lead to development and advancements in fighting against this catastrophic disease. Scientists and Researchers identified beta-amyloid, the small peptide that plays a crucial role in Alzheimer’s disease. Beta-amyloid was thought to be less harmful according to the previous data, but the age-damaged version of beta-amyloid is highly dangerous. Researchers have identified a number of interest regions in the genome, which may lead to an increase in the risk of a patient for late-onset Alzheimer’s to varying degrees. Recent research studies in Alzheimer’s

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suggest that some genetic components are responsible for changes or modifications that occur during Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believed that people with Down’s syndrome develop this type of disorder, the reasons given for such a hypothesis is that Down syndrome individuals have an extra copy of chromosome 21 containing the harmful amyloid producing genes. Various groups of populations for rapid recognition, disease course prognosis, and intercedings in Alzheimer’s are a significant focus of current research. SCD- Subjective cognitive decline has evolved as a pre-mild cognitive impairment (preMCI) at higher risk circumstances of cognitive decline and dementia. Vivid groups of the forum are laid for the cure of this disease, such as Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy. It is focussed on the various clinical trials, scientific studies on brain research with some translations studies. These researches are making a huge contribution to drug discovery and its expansion, including epidemiologic learning. Researchers have found out a process called Brain Resilience, the process of adjusting well in all the major sources of stress, such as Neurodegenerative conditions or biological aging, including Alzheimer’s pathology. Brain Resilience is a kind of thematic series that furnishes a comprehensive perspective of various factors that contribute to brain resilience and its effects on brain function and its health. Continuously since the last few years, Alzheimer’s is the center of attraction for most of the scientists. They are doing research to find out the reasons behind this disorder and how this can be diminished or eliminated completely. If you are interested in Brain, its function, and how Alzheimer’s is caused due to change in shape and size of the Brain, you can give your contribution to Alzheimer’s research by being a part of its treatment or therapy. There are so many career options in Brain Research. Alzheimer’s Research Scope & Job Prospects


Alzheimer’s research has developed to a point where scientists are exploring ways to delay or prevent the disease as well as treat its symptoms. In ongoing clinical trials supported by NIA, scientists are developing and testing several possible interventions. Understudy are drug therapies aimed at a variety of targets, including the

beta-amyloid protein, cerebrovas- • Research Assistant cular function, loss of synapses, and • Research Scientist specific neurotransmitters, as well as • Research Specialist nondrug interventions, such as physical activity, diet, cognitive training, Alzheimer’s Research Career: Eland combinations of these approach- igibility es. Today, the job market offers a vast variety of career opportunities for Clinical Research Associate, Rethose who are interested in research. search Assistant, and Research Specialist generally require the following Do you want to see yourself as a qualifications and skills. scientist or as a researcher working towards the treatment for one of the • Postgraduate in Biology or Life world’s most dangerous disorders, Science Alzheimer’s? • Strong verbal and written communication skills It can be hard to know how and • Ability to read and understand where to start. You must be confused medical/scientific journals about whether to go for higher educa- • Prior experience in research tion or not. For Alzheimer’s Research Career – How to begin your Alzheimer’s A Research Scientist requires a docResearch Career? toral degree in the related topic with research publications in top scientific Earn a Bachelor’s degree journals. The first step towards an Alzheim- Top Alzheimer’s Research laboraer’s Research Career/ career in tories in India Alzheimer’s earning a bachelor’s degree in biology. There are many re- • Center for Brain Research – IISC search-oriented institutes in India as Banglore well as abroad that will nurture stu- • NIMHANS – National Institute dent’s research interests along with of Mental Health and Neurothe studies. This introduces the stusciences dent to the research world. • National Center for Biological Sciences- NCBS Banglore Earn a Masters degree Top Alzheimer’s Research laboraMost of the research institutes or tories in World companies demand more than just a bachelor’s degree. A Master’s degree • Harvard University in any field biology can take up to • Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundathree years to complete. The coursetion work during the two years usually consists of a research project in the field you are interested in, which can take six months to one year to complete. Pursue a Doctoral Degree or Get Research experience A doctoral degree or research experience in Alzheimer’s will clear your path to become a scientist or a researcher – to make a career in Alzheimer’s Research. Many universities, institutes in India as well as foreign nations like the US, Europe, offer doctoral programs in Alzheimer’s. Students are provided with the opportunity of independent research and teaching assistantship that prepares them for their further career. Once you have obtained the required research experience or a Ph.D., you can apply for the various job opportunities in Alzheimers like; • Clinical Research Associate

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• The University of CaliforniaSan Diego • John Hopkins University • University California – Los Angels • Washington University • University of Penn • National University on Aging Top companies in the world recruiting Alzheimer’s Researchers • • • • •

Merck and Co. Asuragen. Inc Cambridge Cognition Neurotrack Denali Therapeutics & Many More

How Promising Is A Career in Alzheimer’s Research? Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia in the world. Being the 6th leading cause of death, Alzheimer’s has become the “hot topic” for researchers all over the world. Even after 50 years of extensive research, Alzheimer’s is still an incurable disorder. Over the past few years, science has grown immensely with the discovery of many technologies like CRISPR, biomarkers, etc. The advancements in research techniques have given scientists new hope for developing effective treatments for Alzheimer’s. This calls for the requirement of many more researchers in the field of Alzheimer’s. The scope for career opportunities in this field is not just restricted to academia but is spread in industries also.


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Alice Zhang – From Princeton to Verge Genomics and Forbes The recrudescence is upon us. It’s a very onerous thing for a patient to hear that nothing is left for you, but that is the truthful retaliation.

Episode 57 By Preety Suman

“Entrepreneurs have a mind-set that sees the possibilities rather than the problems created by change.” Hello and welcome everyone to yet another interesting episode of Voice of Biotecnika podcast. Today we are going to unveil the success story of a young Biotech entrepreneur, who appeared on Forbes’ list of the 30 Under 30 in Science. Ms. Alice Zhang, a Biotech entrepreneur, is the Cofounder of Verge Genomics, a company that employs the exponential advances in computational genomics combined with new insights into neuroscience to discover drugs that dramatically improve the lives of patients suffering from neurodegenerative disease. For over seven years, Ms. Zhang has been at the forefront of computational biology research, initially at the National Cancer Institute, then at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University and ultimately at UCLA. During this time, four peer-reviewed papers were co-authored by her in high profile journals such as Cell and Neuron. She is a 2012 recipient of the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Ms. Zhang was lately named as a Forbes 2017 30 Under 30 Featured Honoree. She completed her graduation from Princeton University magna cum laude with high honors in Molecular Biology. In 2010, she began training in the UCLA-Caltech MD/Ph.D. program, with a focus on neuroscience, where she spent five years investigating gene networks involved in neuro-regeneration. “While Alice Zhang was carrying out her Ph.D. and MD at UCLA, she was shocked to learn that 90% of medicines that start human trials fail. Nevertheless, an exciting convergence of machine learning and genomics has created the unique opportunity to take the guesswork out of drug discovery. Diseases that

were previously thought to be incurable, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are within reach. She further said ‘It’s still largely a guessing game.’ While she was training in the UCLA M.D./ Ph.D. program in neuroscience, Alice Zhang made an acute decision to unveil a genomics startup that would accelerate and lower the cost of the drug discovery process by combining innovation in genomics, neuroscience and machine learning. Her startup, Verge Genomics, was launched in 2015 and is working to use machine learning and genomic data to tackle neurological disorders. Alice Zhang founded Verge Genomics with the vision of building the world’s first pharmaceutical company that uses machine learning to tackle neurodegenerative diseases with artificial intelligence. Its vision is to rapidly develop life-saving treatments for some of the biggest unaddressed diseases of our time – ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. It Verge Genomics is trying to make drug discovery faster and cheaper, as currently, it takes about 12 years and $2.6 billion to get a single drug to market. In Verge Genomics, human genomics data is used to find drugs that are used to treat diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Shockingly, neuroscience is still filled with assumptions and guesses, as drug discovery is still not as effective as it could be. The goal of the Verge is to take the guessing out of drug discovery. At Verge, hundreds of genes that cause disease can be mapped out and drugs that tar-

get all of them at once are found out. Human Genomics, Systems Biology, and Stem-cell Modeling are all amalgamated, and thus Verge has developed a drug discovery engine. Rather than just treating the symptoms, drugs that reverse the disease are found out through this engine.

are no such drugs that cease or even slow the progression of this disease. One major reason for this fiasco is that our current models of these diseases are too simple to deal with the immense complexity. In these most complex diseases, machine learning can make the biggest difference.

In a span of a few years, Alice Zhang’s Verge Genomics has amassed a group of leading experts in applied math, biophysics, drug development, machine learning, neuroscience, and statistics from UCLA, Stanford, Oxford, and UCSF. Heavy investments were also made by Verge in the creation of its own proprietary datasets, producing one of the field’s principals and all-embracing databases of ALS and Parkinson’s disease patient genomic data through partnerships with government and a dozen toptier academic organizations. Verge Genomics, The 7-person company has raised $4 million so far and is working on development with several pharmaceutical companies. Today, Verge Genomics is a team of 14 people that combines some of the top talents in machine learning and mathematics who sit side-by-side with neuroscientists and pharma veterans.

Zhang says that in the last couple of years, there is an exciting growth of new machine learning technologies and an explosion of genomic data. As compared to the cost of computing, the cost of genome sequencing has dropped quite faster over the last decade. At Verge, all genomic data are used to improve on the current drug discovery model in three primary ways. The first is that algorithms on human genomic data are used to map out hundreds of genes that are causing disease, instead of looking at one gene at a time. Secondly, human data is used from day one to identify the relevant genes to understand the disease, instead of relying on animal data until clinical trials. Lastly, genes causing disease are computationally predicted, instead of blindly screening drugs. It is then used to predict a drug that will target the disease genes. So, instead of just screening hundreds of thousands of drugs, only 70 can be tested. Further, one important difference at Verge is that a lot of its own proprietary data can be generated. Unlike many companies, which usually rely on public data, Verge generates its own data by collecting thou-

On being asked why Alzheimer’s disease was decided to be tackled first, Zhang said that tackling neurodegenerative diseases was for two reasons. The first is that the world’s biggest unmet medical need is neurodegeneration. One of the only diseases with growing death rates over the last decade is Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, there

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sands of patients’ brain samples and that identified the new mechanism of spinal cords and sequencing are done disease. internally by themselves. There have been advances in genomSo that has given Alice Zhang Verge ic sequencing and the cost of genome Genomics – enough data; one of the sequencing that have generated enorprime values of the Verge platform is mous amounts of data sets, and thus that a huge amount of patient data is finally makes possible to start runavailable, and then the second impor- ning machine learning. One of the tant point is that it just does not make core thesis at Verge is to realize the predictions and leave them hanging. full potential of AI that is needed to Verge has its own internal labs and integrate computation and biology. animal facilities that produce valida- For Verge, it was thus important from tion data. Every time a prediction is day one, to have an integrated team. made, it is quickly tested in the lab, the hypothesis is validated, and a Currently, the team is 14 and it is not huge amount of data is generated that only the machine learning and mathfeeds back into the Verge platform ematicians but they sit right next to which continues to upgrade and re- neurobiologists and pharma veterans. train it. Proprietary validation data is It is not just a computational platform also available and the machine learn- that Verge has, but they also have ing algorithms are fed by those two their own lab and facilities. They combined and thus helps them im- have their own labs where validation data can actually be generated, that prove over time. feeds into the algorithms and improFurther, at Verge, investigators study vises it over time. Verge makes the individual hypotheses about what most promising uses of AI in biology causes disease in isolation. Instead of in drug discovery as it has both sides letting human bias influence the stud- of the coin where they not only have ies, there is actually a model that inte- the computational horsepower, but grates multiple mechanisms and takes they also have the biologists on the into consideration the whole land- team and the labs to actually generate scape and a snapshot of what disease that close up the feedback loop. looks like. It has also been shown that a new mechanism for a disease can Verge’s focus is first advancing be found and has been validated; a the current drugs along closer to the paper was published in Nature Med- clinic. It aims to expand the team so icine with the collaborators of Verge that it can start bringing on chemis-

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try – thereby hiring chemists as well as translational medicine scientists. It is also expanding the pipeline, thus adding more diseases to the portfolio. Describing Verge’s business model, Zhang said that it is a pharmaceutical company being built; drugs are being developed by themselves and is benefitted directly from the decrease in cost and also the time it actually takes to get there. Specifically, Verge needs to be using human genomics to study disease, that these diseases are caused not just by a single gene, but by multiple genes, and further not rely so heavily on just animal models, instead of moving to a more holistic perspective of the disease. Verge is also working on Parkinson’s disease. Zhang thought that it was such a unique time to start a company such as Verge– as we were going through a revolution where the neuroscience and genomics were converging. Verge became one of the first movers in combining genomics and neuroscience through drug development, and that the advantage of first-mover was very important in biotech. While Zhang was getting her Ph.D., she was writing a publication on her work and she did not just want it to be published and sit on a bookshelf somewhere, rather she wanted it to actually commercialize and help outpatients. Zhang further admitted that her

Ph.D. experience was very valuable and that she couldn’t have started a company without the actual experience she got in becoming an expert in her field. Zhang thought that having a Ph.D. can be useful, but in terms of starting companies, one has started seeing a trend where there is going to be more and more scientists starting companies that don’t appear like traditional biotech companies. There is going to be a huge growing influence of technology in biotech. She further admitted that whenever less money is taken, there is a lower barrier to starting the company at the entry-level and that is when one starts getting democratization of company formation. Zhang advises young people to first learn how to verbalize and communicate science; one has to first understand why science is valuable and it is valuable to whom, whether to the patients or to other companies. Once a person can do that, then he can actually do more than he thinks – and not necessarily within traditional restraints. “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” Thank you all for listening. Keep tuning with Biotecnika Podcast to learn more about the latest updates of the scientific world.

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Biotecnika Times 3rd Dec 2019 Edition - FREE Download  

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