Saturday, July 30, 2005

Life sciences in India

A recent issue of Nature had a supplement called Outlook: India, devoted largely to the state of life sciences and biotechnology in India. In this supplement, three articles by academics stand out:

Inder Verma, a professor at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, San Diego, writes in his article titled Then and Now about how various facets of R&D have changed over the years.

Mriganka Sur, head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, urges strongly that our university system must be rejuvenated if India is to capitalize on the biotechnology revolution.

Finally, Satyajit Mayor, a faculty member at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, recounts his experiences when he made the transition from a 11 year-long career in the US to his current job at NCBS. He recounts both the positives and the negatives, but the accent is clearly on the former.

There is quite a bit of data in these articles. Take a look at this figure, and these two interesting tables.

The Nature supplement also has a few articles by journalists K.S. Jayaraman (Nature's India correspondent) and Apoorva Mandavilli (Senior News Editor, Nature Medicine). While their articles and reports are well written, I was appalled by the opening of the editorial and this report. When will these guys get over the urge to peddle the tired old cliches about cows, beggars and bullock carts in their effort to make their India-oriented articles 'appeal' to the audience in the West? It is bad enough when Western news agencies (and their non-Indian correspondents) do it ...


  1. Anonymous said...

    shoot....i just finished reading the supplement in Nature, and was wondering if I should blog about it, and then I decided to check your blog :-)

    I found in the supplement that though a lot of pages were devoted to the articles, there wasn't enough research on the problems and possible solutions in research.

    However, it does correctly point out that funding available for research has gone up substantially, though there is a bureaucratic layer that still remains opaque. It also points out how much industry (the biotech industry) has changed in the past 5 years or so.

    I found the opening lines of the editorial extremely cliched, and unnecessary.....i can understand mainstream press doing it, but nature (especially given the large number of scientists worldwide, of Indian origin, who had received their basic education in India) should have done better.