BioQuest 2013 was preceded by a pre-conference workshop on biotechnology and translational medicine at Amrita’s Health Sciences campus where Amrita experts helped delegates understand mathematical models for research in the neurosciences.
Another popular workshop also conducted by Amrita showcased virtual laboratories in neurosciences, biochemistry, microbiology, immunology, molecular biology, cell biology, computer aided drug designing, biological image analysis and bioinformatics.
A total of 23 labs based on undergraduate (BSc, BTech and BE) and graduate (MSc, MTech and ME) curriculum have been developed in biotechnology and biomedical engineering as part of the Virtual Amrita Laboratories Universalizing Education (VALUE) project, funded by the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD).
In addition to these two Amrita workshops, there was also a workshop on Big Data and Collective Innovation, organized by DELSA (Data Enabled Life Science Alliance) – Global that attracted the attention of many delegates. The workshop discussed collective innovation in life sciences and micro-grants.
An open town-hall-style discussion at Amrita Bioquest sought to highlight the potential and challenges facing the biotech sector in India.
Only ten years old, modern biotechnology is already a five million dollar industry in India. The industry broadly encompasses the fields of biopharma, agri biotech, industrial biotech, bio informatics and bio materials.
Ramaswamy S., Dean, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bangalore noted the wide variety of areas where biotechnology had the potential to make an impact in India. “Malaria, lifestyle diseases, AIDS, public defecation, food waste, pollution, even corruption,” he said, even as he proceeded to outline possible solutions in each domain.
M. D. Nair, Former Vice-President of SPIC Pharmaceuticals and currently Consultant to Pharmaceutical Industry, identified three segments that were important for India to focus on, viz. meeting India’s medical needs in a cost-effective manner, working in neglected diseases such as malaria and combining biotechnology with traditional systems of medicine.
Shrikumar Suryanarayan, Chairman and Co-Founder, Sea6 Energy Pvt. Ltd. listed the fields of bio manufacturing, vaccines, medical devices, traditional medical biotech, agri biotech and bio energy as the fields which would see growth in the future.
“It is cheaper to innovate in India partially because of the manpower and infrastructure available. If mentors come from abroad, we will see success,” he noted.
Suresh Subramani, Executive Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of California San Diego called for the system of education in India to be changed so that sustainability and environmental concerns are embraced by every discipline of science and technology.
“Education on sustainability, cleanliness, human environment is most important and I am happy to note that Amrita is emphasizing these as well,” he remarked.
September 12, 2013
School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri