India’s Department of Biotechnology has joined hands with the University Pierre Et Marie Curie (UPMC) and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France’s National Centre for Scientific Research- CNRS) to set up a National Institute of Marine Biology and Biotechnology in India.
The institute to be called the Marine Biology Institute and targeted to be set up in five years, will carry out fundamental science with a multidisciplinary approach and will collaboratively address the most important topics in marine biology and marine biotechnology.
A memorandum of understanding was signed MOU was signed on 10 April 2015 in the presence of Prime Ministers of India and France during the Hon’ble PM of India’s visit to France to establish the framework of future co-operation between the parties including scientific research and development, educational and training, technical and logistical aspects and legal and financial implications.
The French contribution to the collaboration will be the expertise of CNRS and UPMC in developing high standard stations in their country which will help in the design, construction and maintenance of the Marine Biology Institute. The Indian contribution will be the interest and proficiency in cell and molecularbiology and biotechnology. It will also provide Indian researchers access to the French marine stations with extraordinary technical capabilities.
The co-operation is expected to strengthen Indo-French ties in frontier marine science and technology research through the establishment of collaborative research programmes, training of highly qualified scientists to provide top-level researchers and seniors staff scientists in future to the Marine Biology Institute. Besides, it will establish efficient research infrastructures, facilities and technologies in India and give access to use of facilities in France.
India’s several marine zones offer immense resources which can be tapped for biology and biotechnology research. Applications of molecules and bio-materials discovered from marine sources are also numerous. But most of the resources remain poorly charted and relatively untouched. The country can boast of a handful of talented biologists, who can rapidly chart our marine and island diversity, make discoveries and apply them to human and animal welfare. They can be potential leaders in this venture.
The charting of our Island diversity will soon be accomplished in collaboration with ISRO and the deep sea exportation will be done in collaboration with the Earth Sciences Ministry. Yet, translating the biodiversity in our islands and seas to success in discovery science is a big- challenge.
This collaboration is expected to address this challenge by upgrading human resources, boosting capacity and sophisticated technology needed to explore high-speed and high-quality ocean and island- biology at the highest international level.
The French have a chain of the world’s best marine stations (Roskoff, Banyuls and Villefranche) and these are linked to other European marine stations. Harnessing the expertise they have developed in the area can help speed up the process which would take years to develop independently.
The collaboration will help set up a high-tech hub and two major ‘spokes’ in mainland India. These centres will train a new generation of marine biologists and bio-technologists in the use of the best scientific methods and techniques. In parallel, India will develop its own marine stations while learning from this collaborative hub. The smaller stations will be set up in chosen locations from the Andamans to Kutch and Lakshadweep escalating the development of the country’s own programmes.