Cambridge University is to collaborate with scientists from leading Indian institutions on a joint £11-million medical research project, to be funded by India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

The project will bring together researchers from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), and they will work with Professor Ashok Venkitaraman at Cambridge University.

“Researchers will combine methods from genetics, chemistry, cell biology, biochemistry and imaging to understand the alterations in cellular systems that underliehuman diseases, and identify ways to correct them using drugs. The initiative is expected to develop powerful new scientific approaches for the treatment of diseases like cancer, integrating expertise from the basic and clinical sciences in India,’’ Cambridge University said.

Professor Venkitaraman, who is the Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer Research at Cambridge, said: “Having originally trained and practiced as a physician in India, I am delighted that the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India will be supporting this exciting new initiative. 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 inStem and Director of NCBS described the initiative as “a new and adventurous path of collaborative, team-driven efforts to address the most challenging of biomedical problems”.

Cambridge University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Leszek Borysiewicz recalled that Cambridge and TIFR had “a long history of connections”.

“TIFR’s founder Homi Bhabha studied and worked in Cambridge as have many NCBS and inStem faculty. We view this very important collaboration as mutually beneficial and an example of how the best in basic research can address important biomedical questions,” he said.