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Disease busters

This is an anti-virus hub with doctoral students working on battle plans against malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases

education Updated: Mar 28, 2012 10:47 IST
Garima Upadhyay

Researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) campus in New Delhi are a contented lot. “The no-fuss atmosphere at ICGEB enables us to give 100% to our research. Having accomplished scientists as our mentors is an added advantage. The laboratories are world-class and the seniors are akin to family, says Nidhi Hans, a PhD scholar.

While ICGEB has a strong focus on quality research, it does not believe in pushing its students to slog and burn the midnight oil. Says Dr Alok Pandey, a post-doctoral research scientist, “A majority of the students are day scholars. If they want to conduct experiments or work till late in the labs, they have to get special permission from the faculty. This is the best part of doing your PhD here. You don’t need to hang around unnecessarily. Generally, students leave for their homes by 6.30pm or 7pm every day.”

The core focus of the institute is on plant and human health. Biomedical projects are pursued in virology (hepatitis B and E virus, influenza and dengue and human immunodeficiency virus), immunology (biology of the immune response with a major focus on tuberculosis), structural biology (solid and solution state structure of proteins and other biomolecules; crystallography and NMR methods) and in the field of malaria, both in basic research and vaccine and drug development.

USP: It is a one of its kind centre that offers an international doctoral programme to students in genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Faculty: Has some of the best scientists.

Programmes: On offer is an international postgraduate studies programme leading to a PhD degree in molecular genetics and molecular biology. The degree can be awarded by a number of validating entities of national and international level such as The Open University (UK); Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa (Italy); University of Nova Gorica (Slovenia); Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (India) and University of Cape Town (South Africa).

IT Quotient: The Centre provides an online, bibliographic database on biosafety and a search mechanism on risk assessment.

Infrastructure: The modern, state-of-the-art campus in Vasant Kunj has buildings towering over lush green lawns. Along with a number of research labs, all the facilities to help researchers in their work are available. The library has a rich collection of books, journals of national and international repute and periodicals.

Clubs and societies: Most research faculties don’t have clubs and societies, but extra-curricular activities are encouraged here. Talks and seminars by eminent scientists, from India and abroad are organised quite often. Spic Macay events, a hit with the students, are organised often.

A big day on the calendar is the annual cultural event.

Studentspeak: “An unsuccessful PMT (pre-medical test) led me to opt for a BSc programme, which was later followed up with a master’s. Researching on malaria has changed my life for good and has helped me evolve as a person as well,” says Faiza A Siddiqui, another PhD scholar at the institute.

Factfile
The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology provides a scientific and educational environment and conducts innovative research in life sciences.
It strengthens the research capability of its members through training, funding programmes and advisory services and represents a comprehensive approach to promote biotechnology internationally. With components in Trieste, Italy, New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa, the Centre forms an interactive network with affiliated centres in ICGEB member states

Wishlist
“The institute’s location is such that we have no direct commuting facilities. The nearest metro station is Hauz Khas which is also quite far off. Some help from the Delhi Transport Corporation or Metro feeder service will be more than welcomed by us and other commuters. It will make life a little easier for students studying here,” says Abhishek Bansal, a research associate