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Feb 13, 2020 (Roorkee)
IIT Roorkee and DST aim to bring gender parity in STEM
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and The Department of Science and Technology (DST) have collaborated to bring gender parity in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) through Vigyan Jyoti Scheme. The launch event of the scheme happened on 13th February 2020. The Chief Guest of the event was Mr. Sonam Wangchuk, Founder, SEMCOL and the Guest of Honour was Prof. Ajit K. Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee.
The Chief Guest of the launch event, Mr. Sonam Wangchuk, Founder, SEMCOL, said, "I am really happy to be a part of this launch event. In today's day and age where women are breaking barriers in every other field, it is important for us as scholars to promote more female participation in STEM courses. I applaud IIT Roorkee for becoming the Knowledge Partner on this noble scheme".
The Guest of Honour of the launch event, Prof. Ajit K. Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee said, "We are delighted to work with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to improve gender parity in STEM".
The coordinator from IIT Roorkee for Vigyan Jyoti program and faculty advisor for NSS and NCC, Prof. Pranita P. Sarangi also added, "With real-life stories, motivational lectures and interactive sessions, we have been successful in bringing interest in science and technology and for setting higher goals among girl students from JNV and Kendriya Vidyalaya". She also appreciated the efforts and enthusiasm of Mr. S. C Joshi, Principal of JNV, Haridwar, and other teachers of the school in implementing this program to help the XIth class girls.
In this formal inaugural program, the girls from JNV and KV also interacted with many lady faculties, students from various branches and degree programs at IIT Roorkee and received information on higher education and carrier prospects in STEM.
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has several women-centric programs under KIRAN Division which provides various opportunities to women scientists and technologies. Most of the initiatives are related with research & development. To attract women into STEM field the DST is now starting Vigyan Jyoti - School Component which will be value-added in STEM education at the school level.
The main objectives of IIT Roorkee under the Vighyan Jyoti Scheme are to motivate girl students towards career in STEM field; to enhance girls participation in underrepresented areas of STEM and ensure gender parity; to provide enabling environment and add on in STEM education; to give exposure of various scientific careers and to counsel students as well as parents.
Higher Educational and Research Institutions such as IIT Roorkee as Knowledge Partners (KPs) have connected with Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) under this scheme for continuous mentoring. In addition to Vigyan Jyoti initiative, IIT Roorkee had played an important role in developing interestest of school students for higher studies in the field of Science and Technology. Recently, NSS volunteers of IIT Roorkee organised campus tours for around 500 students belonging to 6 different schools from the UP and UK where they were shown the Tinkering lab, library and many other facilities including the historical administrative building of IIT Roorkee, which acted as a reinforcement to their curiosity.
Feb 07, 2020 (New Delhi)
Mega project to map India's genetic diversity gets govt green signal
The government has cleared an ambitious gene-mapping project that is being described by those involved as the "first scratching of the surface of the vast genetic diversity of India". The project is said to be among the most significant of its kind in the world because of its scale and the diversity it would bring to genetic studies.
The Indian Express has learnt that the Rs 238-crore Genome India Project, which will involve 20 leading institutions including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and a few IITs, will be rolled out soon.
Cleared by the Department of Biotechnology (under the Department of Science and Technology) late last month, the first stage of the project will look at samples of "10,000 persons from all over the country" to form a "grid" that will enable the development of a "reference genome".
The IISc's Centre for Brain Research, an autonomous institute, will serve as the nodal point of the project - its director, Prof Vijayalakshami Ravindranath, will be the coordinator.
When contacted by The Indian Express, Ravindranath did not provide any details of the project. "Mapping the diversity of India's genetic pool will lay the bedrock of personalised medicine and put it on the global map. Considering the diversity of population in our country, and the disease burden of complex disorders, including diabetes, mental health, etc., once we have a genetic basis, it may be possible to take action before the onset of a disease," she said.
The institutions involved will work on different aspects of the project, including providing clinical samples and assisting with research. "Some IITs will help with new methods of computation, which are essential," sources said.Steps to get the project underway started in 2017 when Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan set up the Centre for Brain Research at IISc for research in ageing and diseases such as Alzheimer's.
As part of a two-pronged approach, Gopalakrishnan provided funding of Rs 275 crore for a rural pilot project in Kolar and Tata Trusts came up with Rs 75 crore to fund the corresponding urban project in Bengaluru.The group involved in the initiative then approached the central government for a nationwide project to sequence the Indian gene and push research in medicine. Last weekend, referring to "new schemes" in the Budget, the government said: "Mapping of India's genetic landscape is critical for next generation medicine, agriculture and for bio-diversity management. To support this development, we will initiate two new national level Science Schemes, to create a comprehensive database."
Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, could not be reached for comment. However, on February 1, Swarup had posted on Twitter: "Thank you Hon'ble FM @nsitharaman for a big boost to Science&Technology in the #Budget2020 Mapping of India's genetic landscape for next generation medicine, agriculture, bio-diversity management. Two new Science Schemes, to create a comprehensive database."
Sources said the thought behind the project was that "all the easy hits in medical research had been met, and there was no real research coming forth"."To really arrive at a breakthrough with modern lifestyle diseases such as cardiac diseases, diabetes or other mental health issues, large collaborations were the need of the hour, combined with huge technological and computational endeavours," the sources said.
For instance, on Wednesday, "Nature" and its affiliated journals reported the results of a decade-long global collaboration involving 1,300 scientists to map genetic mutations that drive the development of cancer. This is expected to play a significant role in reducing the mortality rate linked to cancer.
Scientists linked to the Indian project say genetic studies so far are based on "almost 95% white caucasian samples". "What makes the IISc's pilot rural Kolar study unique is that it is not of urban and rich or middle-class samples, and that could potentially have revolutionary implications on world research," a scientist said.
"It is established that the first migrations of humans were from Africa to India, and then there were several waves of migration that provided vast horizontal diversity. And, with endogamy being practiced over many generations, across groups, it (the project) may help to get a sharper understanding of diseases transmitted genetically down the line as well as some healthy attributes," the scientist said.
Feb 05, 2020 (New Delhi)
Science & Technology: India, Norway to collaborate more on research
India and Norway are stepping up cooperation in research and higher education. The two sides signed four agreements on Tuesday, February 4, during the visit of Anne Line Wold, director-general, Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, to Delhi.
An agreement between Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi and UiT, The Arctic University of Norway is for cooperation in bio-photonics, health and diagnostic tools, nanotechnology, water management and renewable energy. The agreement involving IIT Jammu and IIT Mandi with Norwegian University of Science and Technology will focus on landslides, tunnels, water Management, hydropower, pProject-based learning, student and researchers' mobility and cold region technologies. Another one will facilitate exchange of students and staff and consolidate joint efforts towards project initiatives in national and EU arena between Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology and UiT.
In an official statement, Wold said, "For Norway, exploring potential partners and connecting researchers and institutions with their counterparts in India is extremely crucial," and "We also hope to see an increased student mobility between India and Norway."
Feb 04, 2020 (Pune)
CSIR-NCL laboratory develops inexpensive silver nanowires
Have you ever looked at your cellphone touchscreen and wondered how signals are transmitted by mere touch? A layer of indium tin oxide or silver nanowires underneath the touchscreen does the trick through electrical conduction.Till now, India had almost zero footprint in the printed and flexible electronics but not anymore. The CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory has developed a technology for manufacturing precision silver nanowires at 1/12th of the cost it is currently available in the market.
Speaking about the technology, Shekhar Mande, director general, CSIR, who inaugurated the pilot plant for continuous flow manufacture of silver nanowires on CSIR-NCL campus on Friday, said, "With the help of this technology developed by a team led by senior scientist Amol A Kulkarni (from the chemical engineering and process development division), Indian industries will be able to manufacture electronic chemicals."
The price of the silver nanowires of different sizes (20 nm to 100 nm diameter) varies from 250USD to 600USD per gram, while the ones manufactured by NCL costs $8 per gram.
"This technology development was carried out under the Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) initiative by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). We have been working on this for the past three years. The applications of this technology are huge -- from touch screen, conducting inks, thermal coatings, IR shielding sector (defence) etc," said Kulkarni.
Stating that India was not doing well when it came to electronic chemicals, Kulkarni spoke about the need to enter the tightly controlled market. "There are a few companies which dominate the electronic chemicals market. For example, it is difficult for outsiders to penetrate the touch screen manufacturing business. We are trying to start from the basics and hope that the quality of our product, efficiency of the process along with a super attractive process economics will help our industries make headway in this field," said Kulkarni.
Feb 03, 2020 (New Delhi)
DST launches SATHI Initiative for building shared, professionally managed strong S&T infrastructure
The Finance Minister in her speech yesterday said "Intellectual property creation and protection will play an important role. A digital platform will be created which will facilitate seamless application and capture IPRs and also in an institute of excellence, a centre will be established that will work in the field of intellectual property. Knowledge translation clusters will be set up across different technology sectors including in new and emerging sectors for designing, fabrication and proof of concept and further scaling up technology clusters harbouring such testbeds and small scale manufacturing facilities would be established."
To address the need for building shared, professionally managed and strong Science and Technology infrastructure in the country which is readily accessible to academia, start-ups, manufacturing, industry and R&D labs, the Department of Science & Technology has launched a unique scheme called "Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes (SATHI)".
These Centres are expected to house major analytical instruments to provide common services of high-end analytical testing, thus avoiding duplication and reduced dependency on foreign sources. These would be operated with a transparent, open access policy.
DST has already set up three such centres in the country, one each at IIT Kharagpur, IIT Delhi and BHU at a total cost of Rs 375 Cores. It is planned to set up five SATHI Centres every year for the next four years. SATHI will address the problems of accessibility, maintenance, redundancy and duplication of expensive equipment in our Institutions, while reaching out to the less endowed organizations in need, e.g., industry, MSMEs, startups and State Universities. This will also foster a strong culture of collaboration between institutions and across disciplines to take advantage of developments, innovations and expertise in diverse areas.
Besides SATHI initiative, support to 100 top-performing departments in universities and IITs etc will be provided this year with an investment of Rs. 500 crores for augmentation of their research facilities to global benchmarks. The research profile of the supported Departments will align with the national priorities of excellence in manufacturing, waste processing, clean energy and water, and Start-up India, etc. This will empower our Scientific Community to gain global leadership in select frontier areas of Science.
Jan 27, 2020 (New Delhi)
OPPO signs MOU with IIT Hyderabad, to promote collaborative research in the field of science and technology
Earlier this month, Chinese smartphone company OPPO has signed an MoU with the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH) to promote collaborative research in the field of science and technology. As per the statement issued by the company, joint R&D projects will be taken up in camera and image processing, battery, networks (5G), system performance and Artificial Intelligence, among other areas for the period of two years. This MoU will facilitate the exchange of ideas and carry out state of the art research in the development of advanced and emerging technologies.
The MoU signed between Tasleem Arif, Vice President and Head R&D, OPPO India and Professor Sumohana S. Channappayya, Dean - Research and Development, IIT Hyderabad is aimed at developing solutions and bridge the gap between academic excellence and business requirements and help create an industry-ready workforce
Tasleem Arif, Vice President and Head R&D, OPPO India said, "IIT Hyderabad is an institute is renowned for excellent work in the field of science and technology. Our collaboration with IIT Hyderabad is in line with our vision to enhance R&D and innovation capabilities at OPPO India as we continue our endeavour to build localized solutions for the Indian market. This collaboration aims to pave the way to carry out quality research and promote the rapid integration of cutting-edge technology, particularly in the areas of 5G and AI."
Sumohana S. Channappayya, Dean - Research and Development, IIT Hyderabad, said, "We are happy to collaborate with OPPO India through the expertise of our researchers, to further support and strengthen their R&D efforts in bringing technological breakthroughs for the Indian market. This collaboration with OPPO will help in the development of indigenous solutions to cater to the dynamic needs of the Indian consumers." Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH) is one of the six new Indian Institutes of Technology established by the Government of India in 2008. IIT Hyderabad has close to 210 full-time faculty, 2,855 students of whom 20 per cent are women, nearly 200 state-of-the-art laboratories and five research and entrepreneurship centres. The Institute has a strong research focus with more than Rs 500 crore of sanctioned research funding while PhD scholars account for about 30 per cent of total student strength.
According to the latest research by Counterpoint, OPPO is amongst the top five smartphone players in the Indian market. With 9 per cent market share, OPPO has registered a 28 per cent year on year growth in CY2019.
This MOU is expected to help both OPPO and IIT Hyderabad conduct research in core areas of software, hardware and Internet services to ensure integrated user experience for the Indian audience.
Jan 27, 2020 (Coimbatore)
UGC adds 1,000 'quality academic journals' to its list
The University Grants Commission (UGC)'s 'Consortium of Academic and Research Ethics (Care)' has so far added around 1,000 Indian academic journals to its list since it was formed last November, and the list is growing, said Bhushan Patwardhan, vice-chairman of UGC. He said the UGC was seeking to add more 'credible Indian journals' to its list under Care.Patwardhan, who was in the city recently, said Care has stakeholders from across fields such as statutory bodies, academies and councils to review the journals every quarter.
Last November, the UGC had formed Care to 'prepare a list of credible quality journals' in the fields of social sciences, humanities, languages, arts, culture, Indian knowledge systems etc. The move came after bogus journals, predatory and paid academic journals started mushrooming across the country.
"Studies showed that 88% of journals in the UGC approved list were dubious. India has earned a very bad reputation because of this in the past 15 years. So we wanted to create a credible database of reputed journals to stop the practice of pay and publish," he said.
Pointing out that the consortium has bodies such as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Indian Council of Social Science Research, he said the members together decide which journals are good to be included in the list.
He said the databases such as Scopus and Web of Science could not be followed blindly in the process, as there were many journals in Indian languages and Indian knowledge systems which cannot go into those databases. "For that we need to have system like Care," he said.
Jan 16, 2020 (New Delhi)
Building capacity in stem cell research
Department of Biotechnology's Bengaluru-based Institute for Stem Cell Science and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) is conducting a 10-day laboratory workshop on 'Reprogramming human somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells' from January 15 to 24.
The workshop is part of an effort to train and build capacity in stem cell research in the country.
Nine researchers from different institutions across the country are receiving hands-on training at the workshop. It focused on techniques involved in the generation and maintenance of high-quality human induced pluripotent stem cells from human somatic cells. The course combines hands-on laboratory training sessions and lectures from experts in the field.
The training has been organised under the aegis of the Accelerator program for Discovery in Brain disorders using Stem cells (ADBS), which aims to promote research in the area of mental illness by harnessing the power of sophisticated clinical investigations, modern human genetics, and stem cell technology.
The programme was launched in 2016 under the joint stewardship of Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, National Centre for Biological Sciences and National Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences. It is supported by Department of Biotechnology and Pratiksha Trust founded by Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan and Mrs. Sudha Gopalakrishnan.
Jan 14, 2020 (Thiruvanathapuram)
Turmeric-based tech to kill cancer cells gets US patent
A potentially breakthrough cancer-fighting technology involving a molecule extracted from turmeric has won Thiruvananthapuram's Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences a US patent.
According to Lissy Krishnan, head of Sree Chitra's research team, delivery of "curcumin" directly to the affected tissues rather than through conventional oral or intravenous methods enables it to target malignant cancer cells while sparing the healthy ones around them.
Turmeric has proven anti-cancer properties and curcumin, a molecule extracted from it, is easily absorbed by the body and aids blood clotting, Krishnan said. At Sree Chitra, research funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research focused on processing curcumin to form a easy-to-use wafer configuration. When applied to body tissues, the curcumin present in the wafer is released into tissue fluids.
Human albumin, or rich proteins present in the fibrin clot produced from heavy bleeding, binds albumin receptors to cancer cells, thereby permitting its entry into the cells. Simultaneously, the fibrin clot is removed by the body's natural clot breakdown mechanism without any adverse effect.
"The fibrin wafer is targeted for implantation into the affected site after surgical removal of cancer tissue for killing any remaining malignant cells that have the potential to cause recurrence of cancer or spread to other parts of the body. In addition to drug delivery, the fibrin wafer can promote blood clotting at the surgical site," said Asha Kishore, director of Sree Chitra.
The institute is ready to transfer the technology for future development of curcumin as an anti-cancer treatment through animal and clinical trials. "The US patent adds value to our efforts to transfer technology and boosts the industry's confidence in exploring validation and trials with international markets in mind," Kishore said.