The Infosys Foundation has announced a financial grant to the Centre for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR) at IISc to help broaden its research and also provide additional infrastructural support to the Centre.
Infectious diseases like tuberculosis (TB), malaria, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and more recently SARS, Ebola and Zika virus diseases are posing a threat to human health around the world. With human-induced changes to the environment and increased globalization, pathogens have become more likely to switch hosts and spread across traditional geographic barriers, causing not just more frequent disease outbreaks, but also epidemics. While some infectious diseases have been well researched and can be cured or at least prevented, many others, particularly tropical diseases, have received far less attention. A major goal of CIDR, set up in 2013, is to help plug this gap and address questions in infectious disease research that are more relevant to countries like India.
Currently, CIDR consists of a central lab, a state-of-the-art bio containment space known as the Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) facility and office space for its researchers. In the past few months, the Centre has been looking to expand the scope of its research and improve its infrastructure, a point that was highlighted by G Padmanabhan, a former Director of IISc and currently an Emeritus Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, during a session of the Global Alumni Meet of IISc in June 2015.
Speaking to CONNECT, Dipankar Nandi, a professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Convenor of the committee that runs CIDR, said that Sudha Murty (Chairperson, Infosys Foundation, and an alumnus of IISc), who was chairing this session, immediately offered to help CIDR in its plans for expansion.
Revealing why she was motivated to help infectious disease research, Murty, in an interview to CONNECT, said,“Infectious diseases are increasing day by day, challenging health of our country.” To address this challenge, she stressed upon the importance of advancing fundamental research in the area of infectious diseases and also developing new drugs and diagnostics.
The support from Infosys Foundation, which will be spread over five years, will help in building an annexe to the Centre resulting in three laboratories and office space.
In addition, a small animal BSL-3 facility for research will be built. Finally, the research team at CIDR will be increased by recruiting two Infosys Fellows who will perform independent research. Some of the money will also be used to pursue another important goal of the Centre: translational research. “One big idea we have is that this would not just allow building infrastructure, but will also open avenues for translational research in infectious diseases,” Nandi added.
The Centre, which is already working with researchers from all over the Institute to ensure an interdisciplinary approach to studying infectious diseases, also plans to organise seminars to increase public awareness on the subject.
*Sudhi Oberoi is a Project Trainee at the Archives and Publications Cell (APC