Refresher Course on Advances in Plant and Animal Biotechnology

IWSA has been in the field of promoting scientific temper and promoting excellence in science among students and teachers for the last forty years.

From 2013, IWSA started partenering with Indian Secience Academies; it organized Science Academies’ Refresher Course on ‘Advances in Plant and Animal Biotechnology’ in collaboration with Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil College, Vashi, Navi Mumbai. The Course was held from February 3 – 16, 2013 and was  spread over a few institutions in Mumbai viz. IWSA, Vashi; ACTREC, Kharghar; Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil College, Vashi; Padmashree Dr. D.Y. Patil University, Belapur; NIRRH, Parel and Sophia College for women, Mumbai.

Biotechnology is one of the most rapidly changing scientific fields and the innovations in the field need to be integrated in the teaching–learning processes. The course titled “Advances in Plant and Animal Biotechnology” was planned to impart latest information in plant and animal biotechnology to the post graduate teachers from all over the country and also for the participants to have hands on experience on the latest techniques in biotechnology.

Organizing and advisory committees with different subcommittees were formed for this purpose (Annexure A). The advertisement was placed in the November issue of Current Science. Thirty post graduate teachers from all over India had applied. After screening, 22 participants (18 outstation and 4 local participants) were selected and intimated by 20th December 2012. All of them confirmed their participation in the Refresher Course. Since majority of outstation participants were men, accommodation was booked at ACTREC guest house at Kharghar. Due to last minute cancellations of 8 outstation participants, another 7 local participants were included in the list. Hence there were 21 participants (10 from outside and 11 from Mumbai/Navi Mumbai (Annexure-B).

The inauguration of the conference was organized on Sunday 3rd February morning and was inaugurated by Dr C R Bhatia, former Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, who spoke on the latest achievements in Biotechnology. Dr Susan Eapen, Co-ordinator of the course welcomed the guests and participants. Dr V. S. Shivankar, Principal , KB Patil College spoke about the need for such Refresher Course to update the knowledge of teachers, Dr. Tarala Nandedkar, Director of the course, spoke about the course and Dr. Anjali Bhagwat, Secretary proposed the vote of thanks.  The program was attended by 70 invited guests and speakers, besides the 21 participants.

The program had 6 modules viz. Biotechnology and its applications, Plant Biotechnology, Animal Biotechnology, Development of vectors, Cancer immunotherapy, Transgenic animals, Gene therapy and biotechnology techniques, Advanced techniques in animal biotechnology, Advances in plant biotechnology, Animal cell culture Proteomics and bioinformatics, Biosafety, Ethics and project writing.

The various speakers included Dr. K. B. Sainis, Director, BMG, BARC; Dr. R. Tuli, Director, NABI, Mohali; Dr. Rajani Bhisey, FIASc; Dr. S. K. Apte, Asso. Director, BMG, BARC; Dr. JayashreeSainis, RRF, BARC, Dr. S. F. D’Souza, Asso. Direcor, BARC; Dr. Sulabha Pathak, TIFR, Dr. Paramjit Khurana, Univ of Delhi, Dr. Shelly Bhattacharya, Shanti Niketan; Dr. Robin Mukhopadhyaya, ACTREC; Dr. Sorab Dalal, ACTREC, Dr. SanjeevWagmare. ACTREC; Dr. Shubhada Chiplunkar, ACTREC; Dr. Rita Mulherkar, ACTREC; Dr. Medh Rajadhyakha, Sophia college, Dr. Shubra Chakraborty, Inst of Plant Genomics, Delhi, Dr. K. P. Gopinathan, Bangalore and Dr. Suresh K. Mahajan, ex-head, Molecular biology division, BARC. The list of speakers and topics are shown in Annexure-C. The topics in plant biotechnology included development of designer plants, cultivation of genetically modified crops, vectors for gene manipulation, microsatellite markers, advances in plant tissue culture, transgenics with better nutrition, proteomics and functional genomics, advent of genomics for crop improvement etc. The topics on animal biotechnology included, generation of transgenic animals, cancer immunotherapy, biotechnology of silkworm, ENCORE project, synthetic life, development of vectors, etc.

The practical sessions included culture of animal and plant cells, cryopreservation of animal cells, reviving of cell lines, determination of viability, passaging, construction of vectors, RT PCR, SSR PCR, Reporter gene assays Southern blot, Western blot, confirmation of transgenics  by different molecular techniques  etc.

Experiments with chick embryo, C.elegans, Drosophila and Zebra fish were also done by the participants. The demonstrations included in vivo Animal imaging, Animal PET, TEM, Confocal microscopy, DNA sequencing, Flow cytometry, Real time PCR, etc.

There was also a session on Scientific writing and Ethics in Science and Technology. There was a special session on project writing and some of the participants prepared and presented project proposals.

On the last day –Saturday 16th February- there was  a Panel Discussion on “Women teaching and leading Sciences.” Eminent scientists like Dr. Mythily Ramaswamy, Dr. Shobhana Narasimhan and Dr.  Ranjini Bandopadyaya from Bangalore, Dr. Kamal Hazari (NIRRH), Dr. Anjali Kulkarni (BARC), Dr. Rinti Banerjee (IIT-B) and Dr. Sheela Donde (IISER, Pune) were the panelists and Dr. SurekhaZingde, Dy. Director, ACTREC, Kharghar was the moderator.

The Valedictory function followed the panel discussion and the chief guest was Dr. T. Mukherjee, Former Director, Chemistry Group, BARC. A visit was arranged to BRIT, Vashi, where the participants got acquainted with radiation processing of spices and production of radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment of health disorders. The participants also were taken for Mumbai Darshan (Gateway of India, Hanging garden, Kamla Nehru Park, Marine lines, NarimanPoint ) and also for Kala Khoda festival on 9thMarch.

The course was well appreciated by all the participants, speakers and guest participants and will go a long way in enhancing the teaching capabilities of biotechnology post graduate teachers.

IWSA appreciates the support extended by Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi and The National Academy of Sciences, India, Allahabad. We thank all the speakers and committee members for their support.

 Dr. Susan Eapen
Course Coordinator