By Professor David Arnot, School of Biological Sciences, the University of Edinburgh
The past few days have been spent in Chennai, participating in a joint seminar on new perspectives on Biotechnology between ourselves and Anna University. The Edinburgh team consisted of myself, talking on Malaria vaccines and Indian Malaria, Prof Pankaj Pankaj, from the School of Engineering who talked about his work on bio-mechanical modelling of bone, and Dr Louise Horsfall, a colleague from the School of Biological Sciences, who led a discussion on synthetic biology and nano-particle based bio-remediation strategies.
I felt it was a very good interactive seminar, with strong input from our Indian colleagues on their biotechnology interests in many fields, from recombinant-based synthesis of bulk chemical precursors and enzyme purification from large sale food wastes, to the bioinformatics of Tuberculosis and algal biofuel production.
The Chennai seminar followed four action-packed days in Kolkata where, as a Malariologist, I had to visit the site in a downtown city hospital, where Ronald Ross put the finishing touches to to his work proving that biting mosquitoes were the agents of transmission of malaria.
This is regarded as India’s intellectual capital, and I enjoyed sitting down with several Bengalis for what turned out to be some lively discussions! From the Medical Humanities and the future of the built and lived-in city, to how Kolkata and Scotland are sisters under the skin, and the early days of Indian foreign policy. All in all, a truly diverse mix.