DBT celebrated technology day with awards conferred to seven scientists for Biotech Product and Process Development and Commercialization for their innovations ranging from a rapid visual confirmatory test for tuberculosis, specialty soybean seeds for nutritional security to eco-friendly pheromone trap for monitoring of fruit flies.
The awards were handed over by the Hon’ble Minister for Science and Technology and for Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan. Three of these awards were for the year 2015 and four were for the year 2014.
Dr Vineet Kumar and Dr Anita Rani, scientists at the Directorate of Soybean research in Indore, received the award for their technological intervention, leading to the delivery of specialty soybean seeds to meet the challenges of nutritional security, increase edible oil production and resolve problems of oxidative instability of soy oil. The two scientists for a long time focused their research work on the development of special soybean genotypes for addressing the needs of soy food and oil sector through conventional and molecular breeding approaches. They have jointly developed kunitz trypsin inhibitor and lipoxygenases-free soybean for overcoming the constraints of anti-nutritional factor and off-flavour; high oleic acid soybean for improved oxidative stability to address the issue of trans fat; and high oil soybean to meet the challenges of prevailing crunch of vegetable oil in the country. They also developed vegetable soybean for the use of soybean similar to green pea. Some of the specialty soybean genotypes developed by these scientists have already been commercialized by transferring the license rights for five years to leading Indian companies.
Dr. Rohit Srivastava, an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai and his team of Biosense Technologies Pvt. Ltd. were awarded for their pioneering work on development and commercialization of “UChek” a portable Urine analysis system on the Mobile platform. The scientist, a recipient of several prestigious awards and fellowships like the DBT-IYBA 2009 award, BOYSCAST Fellowship from DST, Samsung Innovation Award 2012′ organized by IIT Delhi, Grand Challenges Canada award, and his team is currently working towards creating a low-cost reader for quantitatively analyzing urine dip sticks. He has been awarded the very prestigious Vasvik Award 2013 for Biological Sciences and Technology for Suchek, which is an indigenous, accurate, low-cost glucometer. Dr Srivastava is also the recipient of the prestigious Tata Innovation Fellowship Award from DBT for his translational work on diagnosing orthopedic implant-related infections. Dr Srivastava’s lab is the recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation GCE Phase 1 starting May 2013. Dr Srivastava has been conferred the Sr IYBA award in May 2013.
Dr. Manmohan Parida and his team comprising Dr P. K. Dash, Dr J. S. Kumar, Dr S Sharma and Mr Ambuj from the Defense Research and Development Establishment were honoured for their outstanding contribution in developing an indigenous rapid and low-cost Swine Flu RT-LAMP technology for early confirmatory diagnosis and surveillance of pandemic swine flu H1N1 virus. Dr Parida has made outstanding contribution in the field of Medical Virology especially advanced molecular diagnostics, molecular epidemiology, protective efficacy of new generation of vaccine and antiviral therapeutics for control of emerging viruses of biomedical importance. He has done extensive research on rapid and real-time detection of Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis, Chikungunya, West Nile, SARS and Swine Flu (H1N1) viruses using all three generation of gene amplification technologies including both qualitative and quantitative assays such as RTPCR, Nested PCR, Multiplex RTPCR, Real-time RTPCR and novel RTLAMP technology.
The Biotech Product and Process Development Award, 2014 has been conferred on Dr. Indrani Karunasagar of the University College of Fisheries, Mangalore for developing and commercializing bacteriophage-based technology for biocontrol of luminous bacteria in shrimp hatcheries and aquaculture ponds. The major focus of her research was pathogens associated with aquatic environment, disease diagnosis and management using modern biotechnology tools in aquaculture. She was the first to report on bio-toxins in bivalve molluscs in India in 1984. As a British Council Study Fellow at the Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling University, United Kingdom in 1991, she developed the first cell culture from a warm water fish. After her return to India, her laboratory did pioneering work on molecular biology of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) affecting shrimp in India and this led to development of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based rapid diagnosis of this virus infection.
Dr. Thukkaram Damodaran and his team comprising Dr. R.B. Rai, Dr. S.K. Jha, Dr. D.K. Sharma, Dr. V.K. Mishra and Dr. B.K. Pandey from the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) and Regional Research Station (RRS), Lucknow received the 2014 award for their outstanding contribution in developing an Eco-Friendly Bio-Growth Enhancer for Increasing Productivity of Agri-horticultural Crops in Salt Affected and Normal Soils. Dr. Damodaran’s research expertise lies with utilization of the rhizospheric microbial diversity for inducing growth promotion in agri-horticultural crops under stressed environment. He had concentrated on developing microbial consortia of nutrient mobilizers for phosphate solubulization from soil and antagonists against important soil borne pathogens like Fusarium, Phytopthora and Pythium. His major innovative research was focused on developing a cost-effective dynamic media for growing beneficial fungi (Trichoderma harzianum) and bacteria (Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus thurigensis) in a single medium.
Dr. Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, Professor of Department of Biochemistry at University of Delhi, was awarded for unique innovation and research leading to a product, TBConfirm, a rapid visual test for the detection of Tuberculosis causing bacteria. He is credited to have pioneered the design and production of the world’s first recombinant immunotoxins for targeted therapy of cancer and AIDS, which won him NIH Directors’ Award in 1991. In 2000, Professor Chaudhary’s group developed a novel point of-care test called NEVA HIV for the detection of HIV (AIDS), which won him Biotech Product and Process Development and Commercialization Award (2004), NRDC Award-2004 and WIPO Medal for Best Invention of 2004. His recent work on the development of TBConfirm also received Visitors’ Award for innovation for the year 2015, which was given away by Hon’ble President of India on 4th February 2015.
Dr Abraham Verghese Director National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources, Indian Council for Agricultural Research at Bengaluru and his project workers (Dr P D Kamala Jayanthi and Dr T N Shivananda) were awarded for their contribution in the development of impregnation process for cost-effective eco-friendly pheromone trap for effective monitoring of fruit flies, which has helped commercialization of 12 entrepreneurs. In his 38 years of service with ICAR, he has contributed to effective pest management for major insect pests of mango (hopper, inflorescence caterpillar, mealy bug, fruit fly, stone weevil, shoot gall psylla, webber etc), grapes (mealy bug, thrips, flea beetle etc), citrus (leaf miner, aphids etc), sapota (scales, seed borer, fruit borer etc), anona (mealy bug, fruit fly) etc. Fruit fly pheromone technology research, which he coordinated since 2001 is now widespread.