Director's Message

 

Mohan Wani, Ph.D.

Director

 

This year marks the 33rd year in the existence of the National Centre for Cell Science, NCCS. As we move forward, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our progress over the last year and to envision our contribution to the scientific future of India. Initially established as a National Cell Repository, NCCS serves the nation by maintaining and distributing a large number of animal cell lines to various colleges, universities and research institutions in India. By doing so, we believe that we have encouraged the pursuit of cell biology in a large number of institutions where it may not have otherwise been possible. We take pride in providing this national service and are continuously working towards improving our services.

NCCS has also established The National Centre for Microbial Research (NCMR), with a special mandate from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), for the collection, identification, preservation and distribution of microbial cultures from various ecological niches across India. NCMR is the 3rd largest microbial culture collection in the world and is the custodian of microbial diversity in India.

As a leading research institution, our primary focus is on addressing the current and emerging public health needs, along with striving to provide a better understanding of basic cell biological processes. In recent days we have expanded our scientific base with new research groups whose work focuses on structural and computational biology, proteomics, regeneration and development, neurobiology, and immunology. Together these complement and strengthen the previously existing areas of research within NCCS, which focus on understanding the basis of development and progression of cancer, cellular metabolism and intracellular transport, and infectious diseases such as leishmaniasis, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The research activities in the institute are augmented by an excellent experimental animal facility that procures and maintains animals, and provides technical support to the scientists.

Our scientific productivity is reflected in several publications in prestigious international journals. In addition to institutional research funds, NCCS scientists have also been successful in obtaining numerous peer-reviewed competitive grants from various national and international agencies. NCCS scientists and students also organize and participate in national and international scientific conferences. Our graduate students are among the best in the country and their training involves rigorous coursework, along with work seminars to showcase their work.

It is my pleasure to document here some of the programmes that NCCS has initiated and is involved in over the last few months. NCCS, in coordination with IISER-Pune, has been instrumental in setting up the Pune Biotech Cluster, an initiative by DBT, that provides a state-of-the-art national facility, with a view to specifically cater to the research needs of academic institutions and private companies in and around Pune. The facility will host platforms with capabilities for high-resolution cell imaging, BSL3 and in vivo animal imaging. Also, NCCS is involved along with IISER-Pune, and Persistent Systems Ltd. in spearheading the MANAV Human Atlas programme initiated by DBT to generate a Comprehensive Human Atlas by integrating available data from scientific literature. The programme is expected to train large numbers of students to annotate data from scientific literature and feed it into computational algorithms during the process of generating this Atlas. All these initiatives will enhance the commitment of NCCS in in supporting the scientific community and society, developing public-private partnerships and human resource development. Moving forward, NCCS will continue to focus on important questions relevant to human health, while adopting cutting-edge technologies such as high throughput screening, cryo-electron tomography and single-cell sequencing with a view to developing a better understanding and potentially a therapy for diseases.

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