Kerala should give more importance to virology research since the State faces a higher risk of virus-related incidence compared to other parts of the country, said Vinod Kumar Paul, Member of NITI Aayog.

“Of late, Kerala is expected to be an entry point for viral diseases. This part of our geography has a high risk of diseases like Nipah and Covid,” Paul said while speaking at the inauguration of the Department of Biotechnology-Scientific Infrastructure Access for Harnessing Academia University Research Joint Collaboration (DBT-SAHAJ) at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB).

DBT-SAHAJ is a facility for the mass spectrometry-based proteomics, metabolomics and lipidomics platforms.

Lauding the initiatives of RGCB in virology research, Paul said the institution has to design additional programmes in this field urgently.

Considering the demographic transition-related health challenges faced by Kerala, the State should make more efforts in the area of geriatric care and could think about creating diagnostics that are useful in the primary care centres. The initiatives made by the State can be followed by the rest of the country, Paul said.

Urging researchers to take the path of excellence, Paul said the country wants relentless hard work from youth and work of the highest quality of excellence.

Rajesh S Gokhale, Secretary, DBT, Union Government, in his address, emphasised the urgent need for achieving further growth in the bio-manufacturing domain in the country by leveraging new technologies. “Innovate or be left behind if India fails to recognize the AI and machine learning needs,” he said.

“Since DBT is a small community, it has to grow by increasing the number of human resources. We have around 340 scientists in DBT across all the labs even as we have the tremendous capability of doing things. We have to increase the number of human resources both in the forms of students and faculties,” Gokhale added.

RGCB Director Chandrabhas Narayana said RGCB has envisaged comprehensive projects in the field of research and also for developing state-of-the-art infrastructure at the institution.

The primary goal of the DBT-SAHAJ infrastructure is to create a national service facility, and research resource, and serve as a platform to provide access to resources that could not be provided by any single researcher’s laboratory.

The RGCB, Thiruvananthapuram, is an autonomous institute under the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, with the mission of ‘discoveries for a better tomorrow’ and their sustainable use through biotechnological interventions for the socio-economic growth of the region.