Amrita School of Biotechnology (ASBT) organized a two day event called the “Biocrest 2017” on January 19-20, 2017. The International Symposium was on Microbial Pathogenesis. This subject has recently become a major worldwide concern due to the global emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, predominantly due to overuse and/or misuse of antibiotics. The mechanisms underlying pathogenesis are extremely complex and require creative solutions. BIOCREST 2017 brought together experts in the many diverse areas of pathogenesis, drug resistance and drug discovery, with an effort to create a better understanding of the host-pathogen interaction and antibiotic resistance.

Invited speakers included Dr. Victor Nizet, Professor at UCSD; Dr. Jeff Perry, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at UC Riverside; Dr. Anirban Banerjee, Assistant Professor at IIT Bombay; Dr. M. D. Nair, retired stalwart of the Pharmaceutical Industry, Dr. Sanjeev K. Singh, of the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences; Dr. K. Sathyamoorthy of Manipal University and Dr. Bhabatosh Das, Assistant Professor at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute.

The event started with the lighting of the lamp and Swamini Krishnamritaprana addressing the audience. She stressed the importance of going back to traditional practices in medicine and seeking possible solutions from them to solve the antibiotic resistance crisis of today. The chief guest of the event, Prof. Victor Nizet, started the scientific session by introducing the idea of, “Boosting Endogenous Antimicrobial Activities to Combat Multi-Drug Resistant Bacterial Pathogens”. In this session he also shared the work and areas his lab is currently focusing on. Dr. Anirban Banerjee followed with a talk, “Pneumolysin: The Sword or the Shield?” which looked at Streptococcus pneumoniae virulence associated with bacterial meningitis.

The Townhall Meeting, hosted by Dr. Bipin Nair, Dean of Amrita School of Biotechnology (ASBT), and Dr. Anand Anandkumar, CEO of Bugworks, gave all the dignitaries a forum to share their view on the challenges faced globally due to antibiotic resistance, as well as the research work to be done and the policies to be implemented to improve the present scenario.

The event also included Student Tech Talks, a student level competition where students were asked to present a scientific hypotheses related to the topic of the conference. The judges made it a point to mention how impressed they were at the innovative and advanced thought process displayed by the students of ASBT. The day drew to a close with a variety of cultural programs showcased by the student community of ASBT.

The second day consisted of a series of seminars starting with Dr. Nizet’s talk on “Unexpected Functions of Five Classical Group A Streptococcal Virulence Factors to Modulate Innate Immunity”. This was followed by a talk on “Antibiotic Stewardship and Infection Prevention”, by Dr. Sanjeev K. Singh and “Host-pathogen Interactions in Diabetic Foot Ulcers”, by Dr. K. Sathyamoorthy. Dr. Jeff Perry spoke on “Improving Early Stage Drug Discovery Through Emerging Structural Biology Techniques”, and “Multidrug Resistant Enteric Pathogens: Molecular Insights into Resistance Traits of Isolates from India”, by Dr. Bhabatosh Das, was the final talk of the day.

The day concluded with the closing ceremony, in which Mr. Ajith Madhavan, Assistant Professor, Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri, summarized the proceedings of the conference. All the participants were highly satisfied with the organization of the conference and they spoke highly about the student community of Amrita. Students who presented the best hypotheses and those who asked the best questions were awarded. The conference concluded with vote of thanks by Dr. Bipin Nair.

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