In the previous article, we had highlighted the salient aspects of Biotechnology in very broad terms. Research areas in Biotechnology include genomics, bioinformatics, plant and animal biotechnology, medical biotechnology, environment and biodiversity, biofuels, product and process development, bio-instrumentation, human resource development, and biosafety.
Attention should be laid on aspects such as enhancing the knowledge base, generating highly skilled human resource, nurturing leads of potential utility, and bringing bio-products to the marketplace. The wide network of bioinformatics would help in sharing and exchanging information at the global level as well.
Research areas The potential areas of research in Biotechnology are so vast and mind-boggling that it is not possible to make a comprehensive list. Further, new areas of study emerge continuously. However, an indicative list is furnished here, so as to give a feeling of the possibilities.
Agriculture: Transgenics of rice, wheat, cotton, potato, and vegetables. Higher productivity
Basic research: On all aspects of molecular biology, genetics, genomics, proteomics, and neurosciences
Bioengineering of crops for biofuels and bioenergy
Bio-fertilizers and bio-pesticides
Bioinformatics: Algorithm design and development, software and tools for data mining and data warehousing applications. Strengthening infrastructure for handling complex and computationally intensive problems. Biological Data Curation, phylogenetics. Setting up dedicated network centres for developing data warehouses. Exploitation of microbial genome information. Training competent personnel.
Bioprospecting and Molecular Taxonomy: Prospecting, molecular characterisation and documentation of economically and ecologically important hotspots of biodiversity in the country.
Biotechnology for societal development: Implementing projects for massive employment generation
Development of diagnostics: For major diseases, genetic disorders, cancer, tuberculosis, HIV, malaria, and neurological disorders
Environment and biodiversity
Human Resource Development: Training teachers, technicians, scientists, industrialists, IPR experts, and so on covering biotechnology research and commercialisation.
Industry: More public-private partnerships for developing joint research and development programmes for commercially viable projects.
Infrastructure and institution development
Low-cost therapeutics: developing new vaccines, diagnostics, drugs and drug delivery system; to produce low-cost, small proteins and therapeutics using plants and animals as bioreactors
Medicinal and aromatic plants: introduction and marketing of herbal products
Herbal drugs and nutraceuticals. Genetic engineering of medicinal plants
Metabolic engineering: use of recombinant DNA technology
Neurosciences: neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and motor neuron disease, which would cover study of molecular genetics of these disorders. Neuro-AIDS, autism, and dyslexia. Neuro-informatics
Plant tissue culture: providing tissue culture technology at the grassroots level to cover the most plant rich regions of the country which need massive afforestation and wasteland recovery. Utilisation of tissue culture for enrichment of genetic diversity. Genetic manipulation of cell culture in forestry for disease resistance and reduction of regeneration time.
Vaccine research for major livestock diseases
Research centres in India What follows is a list of centres in the country which offer facilities for research in Biotechnology.
Agharkar Research Institute, Pune (www.aripune.org);
Anna University, Chennai (www.annauniv.edu);
Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (www.bhu.ac.in);
the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani (www.bits-pilani.ac.in);
Bose Institute, Kolkata (www.boseinstitute.org);
the Cochin University of Science and Technology (www.cusat.ac.in);
Delhi University Campus (www.igib.res.in);
Goa University (www.unigoa.ac.in);
ICGEB : International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi (www.icgeb.trieste.it);
IIT, Kharagpur (www.iitkgp.ernet.in);
IIT Roorkee (www.iitr.ernet.in); the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata (www.iicb.res.in);
the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (www.iisc.ernet.in);
Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Lucknow (www.itrcindia.org);
Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, TIFR, Bengaluru (http://instem.res.in);
the Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development, Imphal (ibsd-imphal.nic.in);
the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi (www.igib.res.in);
the Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneswar (www.ilsc.org);
the Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh (www.imtech.res.in);
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru (www.jncasr.ac.in);
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (www.jnu.ac.in);
Madurai Kamaraj University (http://mkuniversity.org/direct/#);
the MS University of Baroda, Vadodara (msubaroda.ac.in);
National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow (www.nbri-lko.org);
National Centre for Cell Sciences, Pune (www.nccs.res.in);
National Centre for Plant Genome Research, New Delhi (ncpgr.nic.in);
National Chemical Laboratory, Pune (www.ncl-india.org http://www.aripune.org/);
National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur (www.neeri.nic.in);
the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi (www.nii.res.in);
the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru (nimhans.kar.nic.in);
the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa (www.nio.org);
Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram (rgcb.res.in);
School of Biosciences, MG University, Kottayam (www.mguniversity.edu);
the SCMS Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Kochi (http://scmsgroup.org);
the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (www.tifr.res.in);
TERI University, New Delhi (www.teriuniversity.ac.in);
the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru (uasbng.kar.nic.in/Default.htm);
the University of Calicut (www.universityofcalicut.info);
the University of Delhi (www.du.ac.in);
the University of Kerala (www.keralauniversity.ac.in); and
the Department of Computational Biology & Bioinformatics.
Some global centres Harvard University, USA; Johns Hopkins University, USA; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; Stanford University, USA; the University of California, Los Angeles, USA; the University of Cambridge, the U.K.; the University of London, the U.K.; the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA; the University of Tokyo, Japan; the University of Washington, Seattle, USA; Washington University, St. Louis, USA; and Yale University, New Haven, USA.
Some of the Biotechnology companies in India Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad; Biocon, Bengaluru; Dr Reddy’s, Hyderabad; GlaxoSmithKline, Mumbai; Indian Immunologicals, Hyderabad; Krebs Biochemicals and Industries, Hyderabad; Monsanto, Mumbai; Nicholas Piramal, Mumbai; Novo Nordisk, Bengaluru; Panacea Biotec, New Delhi; Piramal Healthcare, Mumbai; Ranbaxy India, Gurgaon; Reliance Life Sciences, Navi Mumbai; Serum Institute of India, Pune; Sisco Research Labs, Mumbai; Wockhardt, Mumbai; and Zydus Cadila, Ahmedabad.