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Swati Saxena

Senior Science and Innovation Adviser

Part of Global Science and Innovation Network

23rd December 2013 New Delhi, India

A Nobel week in New Delhi

The festive season has begun on a brilliant note with Dr Venki Ramakrishnan and Sir Paul Nurse, both UK based Nobel Laureates visiting Delhi last week.

Dr Ramakrishnan delivered his public lecture on ‘Antibiotics and the Cell’s Protein Factory’ on Monday in AIIMS had a spell bound audience. The account of his lab’s work on unravelling the molecular structure of ribosome and its complexes with several antibiotics was very well received. This was evident in the animated Q&A session following his lecture. I understand his insight could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance, a worldwide problem which is on the increase. His and colleagues’ work on imaging the molecular interaction between ribosomes and antibiotics has provided key data to help guide structure based drug design of new antibiotics to tackle drug resistant bacteria. Dr Venki Ramakrishnan

Dr Ramakrishnan will be in India between December and January and will be delivering lectures in Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai as well.  He delivered his lecture in Hyderabad last week as well. Dr Ramakrishnan gave an interview to Rajya Sabha TV which covered his research work.

Sir Paul Nurse gave the Blackett Memorial lecture, ‘Controlling the Cell Cycle’, an exchange lecture between the Royal Society, UK and Indian National Science Academy also in the last week. He enthralled a packed audience in JNU with his description of how he and colleagues went about discovering the key regulators of the cell cycle and how cell shape and cell dimensions are determined. Sir Paul certainly came across as an excellent science communicator with the way he used metaphors in explaining complex concepts as well as his unerring ability to get the listeners visualize these concepts as later commented by an attendee.Sir Paul Nurse

His pioneering work has presented a basic blueprint showing the researchers how cells reproduced and laid the foundations for much of their understanding of how the cell cycle is regulated in both normal cells, and in diseases such as cancer where the cell cycle is no longer controlled properly. Sir Paul led Cancer Research UK as its first Chief Executive and was knighted in 1999 for services to cancer research.

Sir Paul is presently director of the the Francis Crick Institute which has been set up in partnership between Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King’s College London, the Medical Research Council, University College London (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust with an aim to create a world leading biomedical research centre. The Institute’s new name has been chosen in honour of one of the UK’s greatest scientists.  In fact both Francis Crick and Dr Ramakrishnan belong to the same laboratory, LMB (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology). Dr Venki is the 14th Nobel Laureate from this laboratory! Both Sir Paul and Dr Ramakrishnan very well represent UK’s vibrant research ecosystem whose research work has opened up long term possibilities in cancer treatment and dealing with antibiotic resistance.

The Science and Innovation team closely worked along with the organisers from Indian National Science Academy as well as AIIMS and JNU to ensure both these lectures were a great success. The huge and enthused response to their lectures was indicative of how the impact of research work of both these Nobel Laureates has struck a chord with the research community in India.

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About Swati Saxena

Swati is a Senior Science and Innovation Adviser, based in New Delhi. She provides a dedicated support to the UK stakeholders in establishing R&D linkages with India, particularly in research…

Swati is a Senior Science and Innovation Adviser, based in New Delhi. She provides a dedicated support to the UK stakeholders in establishing R&D linkages with India, particularly in research related to food production. She brings strong expertise in agricultural research to the role. Prior to joining the Science and Innovation India team, Swati actively engaged with Indian Government agencies and academics involved in agri-research while working as a regulatory officer for Monsanto, a US-based agricultural multinational firm. She was part of the core group that enabled commercialisation of India’s first genetically modified crop. By building long-term relationships across the government and academics with contacts ranging from the senior policymakers to high calibre scientists with a strong track record in their fields, Swati is well-placed to act as a facilitator to build the technology linkages. Swati has an academic background in genetics.

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