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Honorable Minister for Science & Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan announces commencement of the India-ESRF partnership

Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Environment, Forests and Climate change, Govt. of India) announced a new partnership between India and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). To this end an agreement was signed by Prof. Sudhanshu Vrati (Executive Director, Regional Centre for Biotechnology) and Dr. Francesco Sette (Director- General, ESRF) to enable the use of the facility's synchrotron radiation sources for medium-term non-proprietary research. India has thus become the 22 nd country to join the ESRF and this association was possible due to the strong support from the Department of Biotechnology (Government of India).

The ESRF, located at Grenoble in France, produces X-rays of high intensity and quality and these X-rays are used to provide high resolution images of natural and artificial matter at the level of nanometers. These high intensity X-rays are particularly useful for macromolecular crystallography, which is used to obtain three-dimensional structures of proteins and other biological macromolecules. These structures are utilized to derive insight regarding mechanism and function of these molecules. The derived insights are used to develop a variety of biotechnological applications, including the development of new drugs and vaccines to protect and cure diseases that plague humans and formulation of molecular strategies to protect plants and animals from disease.

To build on this successful first phase of this association with ESRF (2008-2016), the Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB), with support from the Department of Biotechnology, recently made a new and advanced arrangement with the ESRF. The present agreement provides access to multiple & much better experimental 2 stations for macromolecular crystallography, small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and the cryo-electron microscopy.

At a function held in New Delhi on 19/6/2017, Dr. Harsh Vardhan announced the partnership and asked the young scientists present in the audience to utilize the facility to address challenging problems that are relevant to India. Prof. Sudhanshu Vrati mentioned that RCB is committed to provide access and training in cutting- edge methods to members of the Indian science community. The agreement with ESRF represents an important facet of this larger aim. Dr. Dinakar Salunke (Director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology, New Delhi) provided a brief background of the association with ESRF and the genesis of the new partnership. Dr. Francesco Sette provided his thoughts on the new partnership and stated what it meant for the ESRF community. Prof. K. VijayRaghavan (Secretary, Department of Biotechnology) mentioned that the partnership is an example of the synergy required to tackle new challenges in Biology.

A scientific session was held after the opening ceremony with presentations from Prof. S. Gourinath (School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Dr. Deepti Jain (Regional Centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad) and Dr. Bhupesh Taneja (CSIR-Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology, New Delhi). Prof. S. Gourinath talked about structural and functional studies of functionally crucial proteins of the gastric pathogens Entamoeba histolytica and Helicobacter pylori. Dr. Deepti Jain described regulation of genes involved in formation of flagella in Pseudomonas aeuroginosa. Dr. Bhupesh Taneja talked about structural and functional studies on regulatory proteins from Mycobacteria.

Coverage:

1. http://www.dbtindia.nic.in/india-enters- into-scientific- partnership-with- the-european-synchrotron- radiation-facility

2. http://www.esrf.eu/home/news/general/content-news/general/india- and-the-esrf-seal- agreement.html

3. https://in.ambafrance.org/Signing-of- a-collaboration- agreement-between-ESRF-and- India

4. http://www.natureasia.com/en/nindia/article/10.1038/nindia.2017.69

5. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/photoright.aspx?phid=107755

6. https://www.prayukti.net/%E0%A4%A6%E0%A5%87%E0%A4%B6/india-member-number- 22-esrf- medicine

7. https://www.facebook.com/drharshvardhanofficial/posts/828107827338044

 

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