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Japanese collaboration… sunshine news from Land of Sunrise

We step aside from our journey through the endeavours of our scientists working in different DBT institutes, to serve up some good news on our international collaborations.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Department of Biotechnology DBT have signed separate Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with RIKEN, Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines.

The aim is to launch joint research programmes in the fields of biology, life sciences and material sciences.

Nobel Laureate scientist Professor Ryoji Noyori signed the MoU in New Delhi on September 14 as the President of RIKEN.

Genome related research ‑ including systems biology, development of bioinformatics tools, detection tools such as spectroscopy ‑ would be some of the areas the research programmes under this MoU would be focusing on.

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The Secretary, DST, Dr. T. Ramasami and Prof. NOYORI Ryoji, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2001), President RIKEN, Japan at the MoU signing event in New Delhi

For us at DBT, this MoU will usher in a new era of cooperation in the area of innovations and techniques for the agricultural and pharmacological industries in India.

You may be wondering how long the MoU would take to fructify. It is perhaps natural to ask: “Is this yet another formality being trumpeted?” Such processes do take some time, though.

But the signing of the MoU will be followed very promptly by an agreement for joint laboratories for research on materials and biological sciences.

The function held on September 14 comes from years of interaction that have resulted in close interactions and institutional as well as country-wise bonds of friendship.

So, this is a formal step based on a strong foundation.

The laboratory on materials sciences would be a collaboration between Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc )and RIKEN and will be funded by the DST.

The laboratory on neurosciences and developmental biology is collaboration between the National Centre for Biological Science (NCBS/TIFR), the Institute for Stem Biology and Regenerative Medicine (INSTEM) and RIKEN Center for Cell and Developmental Biology, and will be funded by the DBT.

Our soon-to-be spruced-up and ‘happening’ website will keep you all posted about such happy tidings.

Under the RIKEN-DBT & DST joint research initiative, RIKEN and DBT or DST will determine the fields of collaboration, selection methods and numbers of collaborative programmes through mutual collaboration.

Apart from joint research programmes, the joint initiative will also support exchange of researchers, post-doctoral fellows and knowledge exchanges through seminars and symposia.

In a public lecture at the National Institute of Immunology to celebrate the signing of the MoU Professor Ryoji Noyori highlighted the importance of scientific collaborations in reaching the benefits of science to the people at large.

The hall was packed with students from the research colleges of the Delhi University and from neighbouring institutes.

Elaborating on his own research on asymmetric catalysis and how he applied it on catalytic hydrogenation, Professor Noyori emphasised that while serendipity is important in scientific discoveries, the young should know that chance only favours the prepared mind.

And mere school education is not sufficient to be prepared, in terms of science, he said.

He greatly appreciated India’s successes, especially in mathematics, and in facilitating mass access to medicines by producing low cost generic options.

Earlier collaborations with RIKEN have been quite productive.

We in DBT look forward to facilitate more such collaborations to encourage diversity of ideas in science that can trigger better solutions.