To develop new scientific approaches for treatment of diseases such as cancer, India’s Department of Biotechnology and the University of Cambridge are setting up a new initiative for chemical biology and molecular therapeutics at inStem, Bangalore.

Funded by the DBT, the initiative will be conducted in collaboration with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the University of Cambridge said in a release today.

The DBT will provide the rupee equivalent of 11 million pounds for the research, in which researchers will combine methods from genetics, chemistry, cell biology, biochemistry and imaging to understand the alterations in cellular systems that underlie human diseases, and identify ways to correct them using drugs.

The initiative is expected to develop powerful new scientific approaches for the treatment of diseases such as cancer, integrating expertise from the basic and clinical sciences in India, the university said.

The initiative is expected to create a multidisciplinary environment for training young researchers and physicians in the translation of fundamental research to clinical application.

The new initiative is the result of a collaboration that links Professors S. Ramaswamy, K. Vijay Raghavan, Satyajit Mayor and colleagues at inStem and NCBS in Bangalore, with Professor Ashok Venkitaraman at the University of Cambridge.

The initiative began in September 2011 when Cambridge University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz signed a memorandum of understanding with inStem and NCBS.

Professor Venkitaraman, who is the Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer Research, University of Cambridge and Director, Medical Research Council Cancer Cell Unit, said: “Having originally trained and practised as a physician in India, I am delighted that the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India will be supporting this exciting new initiative.”

He added: “The excellence of my colleagues in Bangalore, and the terrific research environment they have created, inspires confidence that we can work together not only to improve our fundamental understanding of the cellular abnormalities that cause human diseases like cancer but also to translate this information for the benefit of patients.”

Professor K. Vijay Raghavan, Acting Director of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem) and the Director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) said: “inStem is taking a new and adventurous path of collaborative, team-driven efforts to address the most challenging of biomedical problems. The NCBS-inStem campus provides an ideal intellectual environment for this collaboration with Cambridge to succeed.”

(This article was published on September 14, 2012)
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