Changing scenario of Indian science: Emerging opportunities in Life sciences

The history of Indian science and technology is very rich and old starting from ancient Indus Valley Civilization to today Higgs boson era. Day by day opportunities are growing, touching new horizons and bringing new laurels to India. The whole scenario has changed extensively from the ancient days. Eminent Indian scientists in the field of physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology like Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose, Meghnad Saha, Sir C. V. Raman, Homi Bhabha, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Vikram Sarabhai, Har Gobind Khorana and many more set up gold standards for the whole world. Women scientists from old days like EKJ Ammal, B vijayalakshmi, Kamal Ranadive to present era like Shubhada Chiplunkar and Shubha Tole always made their presence felt by their work at International science platform. Indian science has grown with a wonderful speed leaving baby steps to giant leaps. With the latest advancement in technology, funding, facilities giving rise to new opportunities. Funding agencies like DST, DBT, ICMR, IACR and Welcome trust etc. have launched various grants and schemes for school goers, women and scientists at any stage of career.

Budding young scientists
Junior and senior research fellowships by CSIR, DBT, ICMR, ICAR etc. given to students selected by national written exam are first step in the process of admission to a PhD Research Program. ICMR gives postdoctoral Research Fellowship to PhD/ MD/MS holders to foster high quality research in different type of diseases and varied areas of basic science at different ICMR Institutes. Every year various awards are given to exceptional young scientists through highly competitive selection procedure by DBT and other funding agencies. Program like ‘Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award’ (IYBA) for pursuing higher research in cutting edge areas of biotechnology are very competitive. Various public and private organizations provide ample opportunities in the form of startup grants, training, awards etc. to young minds who want to make an exciting and innovative research career in frontier areas. Awards like DAE Research Awards for Young Scientists-BARC, Start-Up Research Grant (Young Scientists, CSIR Young Scientists Awards Scheme for Young Scientists & Technologist (SYST) etc. are given every year. http://dst.gov.in/about_us/young-scientist.html. Welcome trust and DBT jointly has also launched some wonderful fellowships for Biomedical Researchers for post doctoral and higher research categorized as early, intermediate and senior research fellowship. http://www.wellcomedbt.org/fellowships.html. MargdarshiFellowship is one more name launched with a vision “to replicate global standards of scientific excellence, and minimize disparities in scientific and administrative capacity, among research institutes and universities across India” http://www.wellcomedbt.org/margdarshi.html. Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC) under INSPIRE targeted for age group 22-27 is aimed for attracting talented young students for doctoral work.

Fellowships for women
Various fellowship programs for women working in the area of basic and applied research and society based programs have been launched. Programs like WOS-A, WOS-B and WOS-C schemes have been launched for women who had a break in career due to family or social commitment and want to make a comeback which will help in their research career and apart from that skill enhancement and increasing chances of self employment. Opportunities in the newer area of scientific communication, intellectual property rights etc are also enormous and more can be found at http://www.dst.gov.in/scientific-programme/women-scientists.html. A scheme for career advancement and bring back women to research after break DBT has also launched Bio-CARe program (Biotechnology Career Advancement and Reorientation Programme for Women Scientists) http://dbtindia.nic.in/index.asp. National Young Woman Bioscientists Award and National Senior Woman Bioscientists Award are also given every year by DBT to appreciate the talented women scientists.

International collaboration and partnership
DBT launched joint Indo-US Research Career Transition Award Program (Khorana-Nirenberg Scholars) to establish collaborative biomedical research and training. DST invites proposals time to time under various International Bilateral & Multilateral Programs for building collaborations with Indo-French, Indo-Finish, Indo-Israel, Indo-Taiwan etc. whereas ICMR also invites proposals for International Indo-US and Indo-German partnership and workshops. Apart from above mention programs applications are invited throughout the year for international and national travel grants.

Welcome back
To overcome brain drain and attract Indian highly skilled researchers working abroad in different institutions in the area of biotechnology DBT has launched “Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship”, an initiative to bring back talented brain and providing them a niche to pursue research and development in India.

Fellowship for science outreach
A nice lead has been taken in field of science outreach and communication to society by starting “Rajat Jayanti Science Communicator Fellowship” and this program is meant for young people who can communicate Science to society. http://www.dst.gov.in/whats_new/whats_new13/RJ_Science-Communicator-Fellowship.pdf. In this row recently, a new program has been launched by DST for motivating bright school students to study science at higher level. This “Motivational program” has been launched for inspiring school children towards science and education. http://www.dst.gov.in/whats_new/whats_new13/Motivational-prg-2013.pdf. Apart from that, other program like ‘INSPIRE’ whose main objective is to “communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R&D base” has launched the schemes for Early Attraction of Talents for Science (SEATS) and Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE).
http://www.dst.gov.in/scientific-programme/inspire/ser-inspire-awards.html. Around 2 lakh school children every year get benefited by this.

Building Industry- academia links
To fill the void between Industries and academia a wonderful initiative has been taken by DST in the form of Prime minister’s fellowship for doctoral research. A joint initiative taken by Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) which will open new opportunities’ in industrial research and development http://www.cii.in/jointfellowshipscheme.
Apart from the above mentioned fellowship schemes India offers many other fellowships, exchange program, travel grant and skill enhancement training program for Indian and foreign students in the area of life sciences.

References
http://dst.gov.in/
http://icmr.nic.in/
http://dbtindia.nic.in/index.asp
http://www.wellcomedbt.org/index.html
http://www.ias.ac.in/womeninscience/liladaug.html

Abbreviations
DST- Department of Science and Technology
CSIR- Council of Scientific & Industrial Research
ICMR- Indian council of Medical research
DBT- Department of Biotechnology

Interaction with Dr. Harald Zur Hausen

Interaction with Dr. Harald Zur Hausen

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