India Recognized as World's Science and Technology Hub

by Hannah Punitha on Sep 28 2008 3:46 PM

The Human Genome Organisation (HUGO), an international body of scientists involved in research in Genomics fostering international collaborations in genomics for human health, has chosen India to commemorate its twentieth anniversary by holding its HGM2008 in Hyderabad.

HUGO’s decision to hold meeting in India is an evidence of the world’s recognition of India as the science and technology hub and its acknowledgment to the country’s scientific potential.

Union Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Kapil Sibal on Saturday said that modern biology holds the key to many challenges to prevent and cure diseases, arrest and contain environmental pollution, boost agricultural production, fight climate change, enhance industrial productivity.

He said this in his inaugural address at the 13th Human Genome Meeting (HGM2008) in Hyderabad, which will be held from September 27-30.

Prof. Samir Brahmachari, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is the Chairperson of HGM2008.

The CSIR institute, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, is the organizing partner of this meeting.

India, in fact, is a natural choice for hosting HGM2008 as this would provide an ample opportunity for the participants from all over the world to experience many faces of our country’s vast diversity not only through scientific explorations of the Indian genetic landscape but also through the sights and flavors that surround each one of us, during the span of the meeting.

Sibal said HUGO is a transcontinental mega initiative to unravel the information content of man; with a view to use it for human health and it is a great honor for India to be hosting the 13th Genome meeting.

Taking pride in the scientific achievements of India, he praised the latest initiative of the CSIR, that is, the Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD).

Sibal said that debilitating diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, kala azar are scars for the tropical countries but no multinational company will invest in drugs for these diseases, because the paying capacity of the afflicted population can’t meet the expectations of profit. Therefore, OSDD can be a very innovative paradigm in this sector.

Over 100 speakers and about 1200 scientists and students from over 50 countries are already in Hyderabad to participate in this ’Mecca of Human Genomics’.

It will cover all that relates to human beings in genomics and health. The meeting will have stimulating and interesting programmes - plenary, symposia, workshops, poster sessions as well as satellite meetings - that would benefit not only the practicing scientists but also clinicians and school children.

The topics include: large-scale medical re-sequencing, genome-wide association studies, structural genomic variation, global perspectives of genomic medicine, genome diversity, public population project, regulatory DNAs, epigenomics, neuropsychiatric genetics, pharmacogenomics, functional variation cancer genomics, ethical issues relating to genome-wide scans, genes, chromosomes and many more.

Several internationally acclaimed Indian and foreign scientists are attending the meeting. Dr. Edison Liu (Singapore), Dr. Stephen Scherer (Canada), Bartha Maria Knoppers (Canada), Prof. Doron Lancet (Israel), Veronica Van Heyningen (UK), Dr. Dhavendra Kumar (UK), Mark McCarthy (UK), Aravinda Chakravarti (USA), Prof. Charles Cantor, (USA), Dr. Stephen C. Ekker (USA), Prof. Jay D. Keasling (USA), and many more.

Human Genome Sequencing has significantly improved our understanding of human genes and human health. Technology and resources promoted by the Human Genome study are impacting biomedical research and clinical medicine and are instrumental in the discovery of treatments for hitherto untreatable genetic diseases and development of predictive markers for complex diseases.

In India, the Indian Genome Variation Consortium, which coordinated a study involving over 150 scientists and researchers from six CSIR labs and Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata provided the first comprehensive genetic map of India. This is likely to help identify populations that are genetically protected or at risk from major disease threats.

HUGO has been responsible for making the human genome sequence data available in the public domain. This has created a flat world for new biology for all developing countries, which had not been able to participate in the expensive sequencing efforts.

HUGO has demonstrated the power of collaborative research making possible the difficult task of sequencing of the human genome a reality that science can celebrate.

Today, the Human Genome lies accessible to mankind in an example of democratic sharing of data generated with public support and distributed free to promote further research in this area.

The Ministry of Science and Technology in India has drawn inspiration from HUGO to conceive a collaborative platform for drug discovery for diseases, otherwise neglected by mainstream pharma industry.

The ’Open Source Drug Discovery Programme’, spearheaded by CSIR as a team-India consortium with global partnership, envisages making affordable health a reality for the developing world.

It harnesses the collaborative power of the Internet to bring massive computing ability into the drug discovery process. It is a landmark experiment in democratizing research by allowing students, researchers, scientists, traditional healers, doctors, private sector, or anyone who wants to participate in this drug discovery process. This landmark noble initiative of CSIR would be formally launched for global participation during this meeting.