June 6, 2009
Amrita Center for Nanosciences, Kochi
“I had visited the Amrita Center for Nanosciences in Kochi a couple of days ago,” stated Dr. Murali Sastry, Chief Scientific Officer of the Innovation Center at Tata Chemicals Ltd. (TCL). Currently India’s representative on the UNIDO Committee on Nanotechnology, Sustainability and Developing Economies in the 21st Century, Dr. Sastry is widely regarded as one of the world’s top ten nanobiotechnologists. “Dr. Shanti Nair, the Center Director, has put together an excellent faculty and teaching/research program. I had an opportunity to interact with the students — they came across as articulate, dynamic and with firm foundations in nanosciences.”
Dr. Sastry has put forth a proposal for Tata fellowships for Amrita’s nanotech students. “TCL will sponsor one M Tech student for 2 years,” the proposal states. “This would mean continuing for at least three years (one student in year one, two in year two). If we see value, then we would continue long-term.” These fellowships will be in addition to DST fellowships that already support 20 of the 30 students that annually enroll in Amrita’s M Tech program. The Tata fellowships are expected to provide a higher grant amount. “It is gratifying to note that industry is also now seeking to partner with us,” proudly noted Dr. Shanti Nair, the Center Director.
Amrita’s Center for Nanosciences is only two years old. But its path-breaking research initiatives and the high quality of its academic programs have begun attracting wide attention. In February 2009, the Center organized NanoBio, the world’s first international conference in tissue engineering and stem cell research. Participants included scientists from top universities in the US including Columbia, Rice and Stanford as well as Canada, Japan, Switzerland. Indian research institutes working in allied fields were represented as well. Now the Innovation Center of Tata Chemicals Ltd. in Pune is seeking to collaborate with Amrita through the fellowships and in other ways.
The proposal also outlines joint R&D programs on topics of mutual interest to Amrita and Tata, Tata scientists becoming visiting faculty at Amrita and offering specialized courses in IPR management and business plan writing and essentials. “In addition to the research programs at Amrita where I strongly feel many Tata Group companies can participate and contribute, the trained man/woman power of the Amrita Center could be a great source of recruits as we build our own program on nano-based drug delivery,” further stated Dr. Sastry. “The focus of research here is mainly biomedical applications and energy (photovoltaics). There are excellent R&D programs on cancer treatment, regenerative medicine, diagnostics, drug delivery, stem cells, dye-sensitized solar cells.”
Amrita welcomes this opportunity to work with a top industry partner and reiterates its commitment to work on such research projects that will benefit humanity as a whole.