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CSIR NEWS

 

ISSN 0409-7467

VOLUME 54

NUMBER 10

30 MAY 2004

 

 [R. Kumar et al*, International Journal of Biometeorology 48 (2003), 10‑14].

The angiotensin‑converting enzyme (ACE) converts angiotensin‑I to angiotensin‑II – the protein known to induce hypertension. The gene that encodes ACE comes in two forms: one with a deletion (D) and another with an insertion (I) of 287 base pairs of gene sequence. The earlier studies had shown the linkage of hypertension with the D form of the gene.

In the present study, 46 healthy young men with normal blood pressure, who lived in plains, were taken to Ladakh (3500m), where they stayed for 30 days. During this period 18 of them developed hypertension. Their DNA analysis showed that those who developed hypertension had a significantly higher amount of ACE D than those who remained normal. Results of the present study suggest that environmental changes and pre‑existing genetic factors, viz. the ACE D allele, might be the two of the factors predisposing natives of low altitudes to systemic hypertension, a polygenic disease, at high altitude.

*R. Kumar, V. Gupta, S.K. Grover, K.K. Srivastava and W. Selvamurthy, DIPAS, New Delhi; T. Norboo, S.N.M. Hospital, Leh and M.A.Qadar Pasha, A.P. Khan and S.K. Brahmchari, IGIB, Delhi

 
Sudden changes in desert water-level may help in earthquake prediction

SIGNIFICANT changes in water levels of shallow and deep borewells before and after earthquake events were observed in the Thar Desert of India and reported for the first time by D. Muralidharan, R. Andrada and U. Satayanarayana of the National Geophysical Research Institute, (NGRI) Hyderabad, in their presentation at Conference of the Society of Petroleum Geophysists held in Hyderabad, during 16-17 January 2004. Rise in water level of the deep well (165-m depth) was of the order of 5 to 50 cm and was observed prior to earthquake events having epicenters at distances ranging between 100-800 km. Analysis show the water level changes directly proportional to the magnitude-distance ratio (magnitude/epicentral distance) and inversely proportional to the epicentral distance. Sudden drop in water level of 1-2 m is a unique experience observed on 13 occasions during a four-month period of observation (Dec 2001-March 2002) at deep borewell. The fall in water levels was associated with global events in some cases and signifies the sensitivity of the site in arid conditions for earthquake precursory studies. The plot of epicenters is found to be falling in two major trends of N-S and NE-SW directions, which are transverse to the Himalayan arc and sub-parallel to the Aravalli Range respectively. These preliminary observations signify the favourable conditions of the desert environment to be a good sensor for earthquake hazard management of densely populated northern continent of India.

 

Correlation of changes in water level between December 2001 and March 2002 in the Dumki deep-bore well in the Thar Desert with earthquake occurring at various distances from the well. The changes in water level in the
 24 hours before a quake provide a means of earthquake prediction, but there is currently no
 information about where the quake will strike

 

 

NCL signs MoU with InnoCentive

THE National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, signed a partnership agreement with InnoCentive on 15 March 2004. InnoCentive is the first online forum that allows world‑class scientists and science‑based companies to collaborate as a global scientific community for achieving innovative solutions to complex challenges. InnoCentive is an e‑business company of Eli Lilly and Company, a leading innovation‑driven pharmaceutical company.

Addressing the press conference (from left): Dr MK Gurjar, Head, Organic Chemistry Division, NCL;

Dr Darren J. Carroll, CEO and President, InnoCentive; and  Mr Ali Hussein, Vice-President (Marketing), InnoCentive

A one‑day annual conference on `Innovation in Chemical & Biological Sciences' was also organized on the occasion. Many distinguished scientists form India and abroad delivered talks covering various aspects of the theme of the conference — Dr K.N. Ganesh, Head, Organic Chemistry (Synthesis) Division, NCL, delivered a talk on `Challenges at the Interface of Chemistry and Biology'; Dr M.K. Gurjar, Head, Organic Chemistry (Technology) Division, NCL, on `Innovation in Pharma Industry'; Dr B. Gopalan, Vice‑President (R&D), Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, on `Role of Chemist in the Design and Development of New Drugs'; Dr J.S. Yadav, Director, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, on `The Art and Challenges in Synthetic Organic Chemistry' and Dr Larry Ng., Vice‑President, Research Alliance & Business Development, Eli Lilly Asia Inc., on `The Innovation/Productivity Challenge: What Role for India/Asia?'.

"InnoCentive's agreement with NCL will enable us to further our mission of accelerating scientific innovation through our global scientific community and provide a tremendous opportunity for scientists located in India", said Darren J. Carroll, CEO and President, InnoCentive. He further informed that after signing the partnership agreement with NCL, India is at third position, after the US and China, in the number of registered solvers.

Dr M. K. Gurjar, Head, Organic Chemistry Division, NCL, said, "Co‑operating with InnoCentive will provide NCL scientists and researchers an ideal platform to work on complex scientific problems posted by leading global corporations. It will also help them gain financial rewards and even greater international recognition.”

"InnoCentive recognizes the importance of partnering with leading scientific institutions to further its global R&D initiatives. We have established relationships with pre‑eminent research institutes throughout the world, and today's announcement, coupled with our already deep partnership with CSIR, will enable us to tap even further into India's vast scientific pool of talent," said Ali Hussein, Vice‑President (Marketing), InnoCentive.

InnoCentive is the first online forum that brings together leading global corporations and scientists from across the globe to solve tough R&D challenges. Global companies like BASF, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly and Company and Procter & Gamble, which collectively spend billions of dollars on R&D, post scientific problems confidentially on the InnoCentive Web site where leading scientists and scientific organizations located in more than 150 countries solve them. These 30 companies are primarily in the chemical and biology areas, and the number is increasing. NCL scientists have also begun to work on these problems after the tie‑up. Scientists who deliver solutions that best meet InnoCentive's Challenge requirements receive a pre‑determined financial award for their work, ranging from US $10,000 to 100,000 depending upon the problems.

 

 

Projects contracted to NEERI

THE projects contracted to the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, in the recent past include:

 

 

NGRI Re-certified for ISO-9001 : 2000 Accreditation

 

THE National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, has been re-certified for the ISO 9001:2000 accreditation w.e.f. December 2003 by TÜV CERT Certification Body for Quality Management Systems of RWTUV Systems GmbH, Germany.

 

It has been certified that NGRI has established and applies a quality system for Design of Geophysical Instruments, Exploration of Hydrocarbons & Minerals, Eathquake Hazard Assessment, Groundwater Management and Lithospheric & Geo-Environmental Studies.

The institute was earlier certified by TÜV for ISO 9001:1994 in 2001.

 
Annual Day Celebrations

 

CDRI Forges Ahead

 

THE Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, celebrated its 53 Annual Day on 17 February 2004. The occasion was graced by the presence of Dr R.A. Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR and Dr R. Kumar, Emeritus Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, who presided over the function. The event was also accompanied with the inauguration of second International Conference on `Current Trends in Drug Discovery Research – 2004' (CTDDR‑04) by Dr Mashelkar. Prof. David J. Triggle of USA, delivered the key‑note address on `The shape of medicines to come: Pharmaceuticals in the 21st century'.

Earlier, in the forenoon, Prof. Goverdhan Mehta, Director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, delivered the CDRI's coveted Sir Edward Mellanby Memorial Lecture on `Natural Products, Organic Synthesis and Drug Discovery: Triumvirate for Human Welfare'.

The Charitable Foundation Scientific Partnership, Moscow, in recognition of CDRI's contribution to world science and international scientific collaboration, awarded a Gold Medal to the institute for the year 2004.

The highlight of the Annual Day celebrations was the presentation of CDRI Annual Report by Dr C.M. Gupta, Director, CDRI. This was the seventh annual report presented by Dr Gupta as the institute's Director, and while highlighting the achievements of the past one year, he also recalled some of the significant milestones achieved during his overall tenure as the Director.

Dr Gupta said that the major agenda given to him at the time of his joining as the Director of the institute was to strengthen the institute's foundations by inducting young talents to improve the quality of manpower, and basic science, modernizing the infrastructure and expertise to bring the institute at par with international standards in drug discovery research, developing a strong pipeline of candidate drugs, licensing of the existing technologies, improving the quality and number of publications in SCI journals. He informed that the institute has progressed well and if the present level of progress was maintained for the next 4‑5 years, he was confident that the institute would become one of the best institutions in the area of new drug discovery research and development.

Describing the achievements, he pointed out that  CDRI had successfully licensed Bulaquin (anti‑relapse antimalarial drug) and Guglip (cholesterol lowering herbal preparations) to Nicholas Piramal Ltd, and the Compound 80/574 (Hypolipidaemic) to Cadila Pharma, the CT‑1 (herbal anti‑diabetic) to Nicholas Piramal Ltd, herbal cream Consap (strong spermicidal and select antimicrobicidal) to Hindustan Latex Ltd, Standardized Brahmi Extract (memory enhancer) to Lumen Marketing Company and among the formerly developed drugs Centbutindole (analeptic) and Centpropazine (antidepressant) to Merind. While Bulaquin with the trade name Aablaquine was released in 2000 and the standardized Brahmi Extract with the trade name Promind was released for marketing in 2002, the Consap was ready for release for limited marketing on that day.

The external cash flow (ECF) (excluding lab reserve) had continuously increased since 1998, and last year onwards it had crossed Rs 90 million mark. The position with regard to research publications had remarkably improved since 1998 when CDRI published only 90 papers in SCI journals with an average impact factor of about 1.7, but in the year 2003, 126 papers were published in SCI indexed journals with an average impact factor of about 2.1. The number of papers published in journals having an impact factor of more than two had steadily increased over the last 6 years. In 2003, this number was 63 as compared to 25 in 1998. Similarly, the number of patents filed abroad had also showed a steady increase. The total number of foreign patents filed during 1998‑2003 was close to 125, of which 39 patents had been granted. In addition, 79 patents had been filed in India.

Owing to restrictions on new manpower induction, little or no induction of fresh manpower could be made during 1988‑97. A large number of senior scientists superannuated during this period, but the positions could not be filled by fresh manpower. It was absolutely essential to induct young blood in large numbers at various levels to carry on the drug development programme at the desired pace. During the last 6 years, over 50 appointments were made and out of these 40 new scientists were in position and 5 more were expected to join.

New blood induction has enabled the institute initiate some new activities, virtually absent but required for upgrading the current approaches in new drug discovery. New blood induction helped strengthen several of core divisions such as Division of Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, Microbiology, Pharmaceutics, Pharmacokinetics, Toxicology, Endocrinology, etc.

The institute also laid considerable emphasis on the recruitment process for research fellows. Also, an MoU was signed with the Jawaharlal Nehru University for recognizing CDRI for the purpose of the award of Ph.D. degree. These steps significantly improved the quality of Ph.D. students, evident from the fact that the number of CSIR‑UGC NET qualified Ph.D. students had increased from 10 in 1997 to exceeding 80 now. The net effect of the overall efforts made in this direction can be co‑related with the improvement in quality and number of CDRI publications and patents.

Dr Gupta said that CDRI has continuously focused on some select disease areas of high national relevance, i.e. Malaria, Tuberculosis, Diabetes and Associated disorders, and Osteoporosis. For all these disease areas CDRI has complete set of animal models and required expertise in biology and chemistry. Besides, traditional herbal therapeutics have been identified as an important activity of the institute.

He thanked CSIR and DST for their financial support for modernization, resulting in the establishment of full‑fledged faculties in combinatorial chemistry, high throughput screening, macromolecular x‑ray crystallography, DNA micro array, proteomics and several other state‑of the‑art facilities.

Regarding the CDRI's drugs in pipeline, Dr Gupta informed that the herbal hepatoprotective, Picroliv and anti‑diabetic CT‑1 had reached phase III and phase II trials, respectively. In addition, two synthetic compounds, namely 97/98 (anti‑malarial), 99/373 (anti‑osteoporotic) and four natural product preparations, namely, CDRI‑134 (anti‑diabetic), fish oil (hypolipidaemic), plant 109 K022 (anti‑stress) and a herbal medicament (anti‑cerebral stroke) had reached the stage of pre‑clinical toxicity studies. In addition, there were a number of promising leads in the areas of anti‑tubercular, anti‑leishmania, anti‑breast cancer and anti‑osteoporosis.

Highlighting the accomplishments of the past one year, Dr Gupta said that the ECF was expected to be more than Rs 90 million.

“We have not only licensed the contraceptive cream 'Consap' to the Hindustan Latex Ltd but also finalized licensing of herbal medicament for treatment of cerebral stroke to a company, with the CSIR approval”, he informed. The collaboration with Novo Nordisk had moved quite well during the past four years, leading to identification of a number of promising leads in diabetes and dyslipidaemia with the possibility of entering second phase of collaboration and for that the agreement had been extended by another six months. It was hoped that something worthwhile would emerge from the collaboration, Dr Gupta said.

Of the 140 research publications, 126 were published in SCI journals with an average impact factor of 2.1, and 19 Indian patents and 32 foreign patents had been filed. He reported satisfactory progress in phase III clinical trials of Picroliv (hepatoprotective), grant of DCGI's permission for clinical trials of CT‑1 (anti‑diabetic) and submission of dossiers on aArteether to DCGI for undertaking phase III clinical studies for its use in children and on CDR‑134 (anti‑diabetic) for undertaking phase I clinical trial. A number of `hits' in various disease areas including cancers had been identified through high throughput screening of the institute's chemical libraries. Some of those `hits' were being structurally diversified using combinatorial chemistry to identify leads under collaboration with an Indian pharma company. In all, about 15,000 samples have been tested during the year.

To strengthen CDRI's armamentarium of in vitro models, the institute has pursued a programme to acquire or develop as many in vitro models as possible leading to addition of some in vitro models for osteoporosis and tuberculosis. Similar efforts were on in the area of malaria and leishmania. Institute's chemical library has steadily grown to over 15,000 compounds. It is hoped that the target of 50,000 compounds would be achieved in the next 3‑4 years.

The institute staff received several honours and awards during the year. Dr Gupta was awarded Prof. B.N. Ghosh Memorial Oration of the Indian Pharmacological Society and R.K. Dutt Memorial Award of the Indian Science Congress. Dr Vinod Bhakuni was elected to the Fellowship of Indian Academy of Sciences, Dr Ashim Ghatak was awarded K.G. Nair Oration Award of Indian Society of Hypertension and the Hindi Officer, Dr V.N. Tewari was honoured with the prestigious Indira Gandhi Official Language Award. Further, Dr Pradip Srivastava and Shri R.P.S. Parti were awarded the Indian Science Writer's Association National Award and Best Poster Award, respectively. Dr K.R. Arya was elected to the Fellowship of Society of Ethno botanist.

 

 

NEERI Foundation Day Celebrations and Burhani Foundation – NEERI Award Presentation

 

The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, celebrated its Foundation Day on 8 April 2004. Dr Prodipto Ghosh, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests was the Chief Guest and Dr A.P. Mitra, FRS, Honorary Scientist of Eminence, National Physical Laboratory (NPL), New Delhi, and former Director General, CSIR, was the Guest of Honour. On this occasion the Burhani Foundation – NEERI Award for the year 2001 was also presented.

Dr Ghosh while delivering the NEERI Foundation Day Lecture expressed that country should evolve its own emission and ambient standards and make rational use of the existing international standards. He said that NEERI can play an active role in developing country specific standards based on the analysis of risk exposure. He stressed on the need to keep a check on the high cost of maintaining these standards. Dr Ghosh also suggested that NEERI should publish its reports on the industry/sector‑specific Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies carried out in most polluting industries. These can be used as a guideline manual for the 17 industries which have been put under most polluting category by the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Government of India. This will also help the makers of environment policy in preparing the `Environmental Remediation Plan' for the country.

Dr Ghosh informed that the government is planning to bring out a national environment policy and is toying with the idea to set up a Center for Excellence for Environment Technology with a view to providing a platform for information, demonstration, verification and assessment of new environment‑friendly technologies. In his concluding remarks he emphasized on transforming the waste generating technologies of the past into resource efficient clean technologies for sustainable development, especially in context of small scale industries which contribute to about 40% of industrial output in terms of value. Earlier, in the morning Dr Ghosh, visited different R&D divisions of the institute and had discussion with scientists on various ongoing research programmes of NEERI.

Dr Mitra, in his address called upon NEERI to become a more socio‑economic relevant institute. He said that NEERI has played a pivotal role in initiating various life cycle assessment and carrying capacity studies in the country for the first time. He suggested that institutes like NEERI should give training to researchers from South East Asian countries. Dr Mitra further suggested that NEERI should participate in different global programmes which are being undertaken by different agencies in the field of environment, meteorology, climate change, environmental modelling, instruments development, etc.

 

 

Burhani Foundation – NEERI Award to Dr J. Raghava Rao of CLRI

On this occasion Dr J. Raghava Rao, Scientist, Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Chennai, was presented the prestigious Burhani Foundation – NEERI Award by Dr Mitra. This award is given to outstanding and socially relevant R&D in environmentally sound technologies and innovations in environmental management and conservation. It was instituted by Burhani Foundation and NEERI on 6 January 1998. The award consists of a cash prize of Rs one lakh, a citation and plaque. Dr Rao was given this award for his extensive R&D work on chrome recovery/reuse and management technologies for cleaner leather tanning. Speaking on the occasion, Skh. Kumail H. Khorakiwala, Operating Trustee, Burhani Foundation of India (BFI), pointed out that the Burhani Foundation was dedicated to presevation of environment and gave a brief account of the various activities of the Foundation. Janab Amil Saheb of BFI was also present on this occasion.

NEERI'S Accomplishments

Earlier, Dr Sukumar Devotta, Director, NEERI, in his introductory remarks highlighted the achievements and future plans of NEERI. He informed that NEERI is just on the top half in the list of 38 laboratories of CSIR, for various parameters, and is doing fairly well in external cash flow. He told that during 2003‑04, NEERI has been granted two US patents, filed four US patents and communicated two US patents. The institute is preparing the EIA Guidelines & Manual for ten selected sectors for World Bank and MoEF. It had recently completed the prestigious EIA of Sethusamudram Project and is in the race for the award of EIA contract for very prestigious projects like Interlinking of Rivers and Kalpasar Project in Gujarat. It has launched a major project jointly with Indian Oil Corporation and their partners including HPCL, BPCL and Reliance, for monitoring Air Quality in five metros, with Delhi as the first metro.

Dr Devotta further said that NEERI is responsible for co‑ordinating two CSIR network projects, viz. Industrial waste minimization and cleanup, and Pollution monitoring and mitigation systems and devices. These two projects have been approved recently by the Planning Commission and CSIR with a total project value of Rs 32 crore. The entire institute was getting upgraded with respect to analytical instruments, laboratory safety, communication network, on‑line library and software, to improve the quality of R&D and monitoring. Special schemes had been introduced to attract bright young talents. NEERI was also planning to establish NEERI Research Foundation within a year so that awards schemes and endowment lectures by peers could be introduced at the institute. NEERI has also launched an exercise to get ISO‑9001 and NABL accreditation, said Dr Devotta.

The programme was largely attended by scientists, academicians, local dignitaries, media persons and distinguished representatives of Burhani Foundation of India. Dr S.P. Pande proposed a vote of thanks and Dr Atya Kapley conducted the proceedings.

 

 

CIMAP celebrates Annual Day

The Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, celebrated its Annual Day on 26 March 2004.  The celebrations included a special lecture on Medicinal Plants and Beyond by Dr Nitya Anand, former Director of Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow; Padap Pathshala (Plant School) for the visitors including students, an exhibition on the CIMAP's achievements through posters, publications and products including medicinal plants for the kitchen garden, knowledge visit to Health Park and Manav Upvan, and signing of MoU with three schools for their adoption as CIMAP's Gyanika (knowledge units).

Dr S.P.S. Khanuja, Director, CIMAP, welcomed the visitors and guests and mentioned about the major achievements of the institute during 2003‑04. Dr Khanuja stated that CIMAP is committed to make available the plant‑based technologies, products and molecules for green entrepreneurship to the rural entrepreneurs and pharma industry in a mission mode. After achieving the remarkable success in development and dissemination of menthol mint, CIMAP is now focussing its attention on dissemination of geranium and other plants through demonstrations, training and interactions. Dr Khanuja further said that process knowhow and product formulations developed by CIMAP are attracting the industries and entrepreneurs from across the country. Under the 'Mission Tarang' programme, Dr Khanuja informed, CIMAP would be setting up the herbal gardens in schools and adopt them as 'Gyanika'. On this day the three 'Gyanikas' adopted were Spring Dale Inter College, Indira Nagar and Kanpur Branch, Maharishi Vidya Mandir, Sitapur Road. This would facilitate CIMAP in providing scientific basis and education to the students about utilization and conservation of medicinal and aromatic plants.

Delivering his special lecture, Dr Nitya Anand dwelt upon the technological and industrial development that have taken place in the country, which are paving the way for the further realization of targets in various sectors. Now India has reached the stage where Indian pharma company are able to manufacture the drugs needed from basic stage, at prices which could be lowest in the world. India has become an important generic resource for production of cost‑effective generic drugs. There has been a virtual Pharma Revolution, he added. Elaborating his view point on the unified picture of the universe, Dr Nitya Anand said that there are two facets of our scientific life with medicinal and aromatic plants, one is the opportunity to provide medical, agricultural and industrial benefits to the society and the second facet is the opportunity it provides us to understand our place and position in the universe, our 'communion' with all that exists; the former gives us the passion for work and is the opportunities of understanding life in full and to live with 'compassion'. Living with passion and compassion gives much meaning to our life, Dr Nitya Anand emphasised. On this occasion he also released CIMAP newsletter both in print form and in CD and also planted a chandan sapling in the campus. The winners of the previously organised competitions were awarded on this occasion.

 

 

International Symposium on Recent Trends in
Surface Geochemical Prospecting and Risk Reduction for Hydrocarbon Exploration and Development (ISGP‑2003)

A National Facility for surface geochemical prospecting of hydrocarbons has been nucleated at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, with grant from Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB), New Delhi. Related to this national facility and with support from OIDB, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC); Oil India Limited (OIL); and Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), NGRI, in the recent past organized an international symposium on `Recent Trends in Surface Geochemical Prospecting and Risk Reduction for Hydrocarbon Exploration and Development'. The symposium was inaugurated by Shri T. Devender Goud, the then Minister for Home, Government of Andhra Pradesh. Dr V.P. Dimri, Director, NGRI, welcomed the dignitaries and delegates. The souvenir and abstract volume was released by Dr H.K. Gupta, Secretary, Department of Ocean Development (DOD). One hundred six delegates from various organizations, universities and oil companies within India (NGRI, ONGC, OIL, DGH, Hindustan Oil Exploration Company Ltd, National Institute of Oceanography, Shivaji University, Indian Oil Corporation, Department of Petroleum, Government of Rajasthan) and abroad (Exploration Technologies Inc., USA; GeoMicrobial Technologies, USA; Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany; Hefei Institute of Petroleum Geochemical Exploration, China) attended.

The symposium had six sessions: viz. (i) Challenges of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Development in the Coming Decades; (ii) Gaseous Hydrocarbon Based Methods; (iii) Bitumen, Soil Salts, Trace Element and Helium Emanometric Methods; (iv) Microbial Methods; (v) Geochemical Prospecting Data Management and Processing, Interpretation Techniques & Integrated Geochemical and Geophysical Prospecting Techniques and (vi) Gas Hydrates. The eight invited talks and 25 technical presentations during these sessions dealt with the various aspects of surface geochemical prospecting for hydrocarbons and gas hydrates. The invited talks were delivered by Dr H.K. Gupta; Shri Y.B. Sinha, Director (Exploration), ONGC; Dr D. Ray, Director, KDMIPE; Shri Kuldeep Chandra, Ex‑Executive Director, KDMIPE (ONGC); Dr V.T. Jones, Exploration Technologies Inc., USA; Dr Deet Schumacher, GeoMicrobial Technologies, USA; Mr Daniel C. Hitzman, GeoMicrobial Technologies, USA; and Dr E. Faber, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Germany.

The knowledge and experience shared in this symposium by the participants will help in synergizing the latest thinking on the emerging issues and challenges for hydrocarbon exploration in frontier basins of India and assist in achieving the goals of India's Hydrocarbon Vision 2025 for Exploration and Production Sector.

 

 

Workshop on Organic Synthesis Directed Towards Chemical Biology & Chemical Genetics

ORGANIC chemistry has been undergoing a lot of changes for the last decade or so.  More and more research groups are using new small molecules available in organic chemistry realms and applying them to perturb a biological system in order to understand various complicated biosynthetic pathways.  It is felt that the concept popularly known as Chemical Genetics is going to have a lot of impact in the years to come.  It has been recognized that India has got a great pool of knowledge in the art of practicing Organic and Natural Product Chemistry.  However, collaborative efforts at the interface of chemistry and biology by industry and academia are not intense so far in India.  In order to inculcate active collaborative efforts in this growing field, a two‑day workshop was organized on 2‑3 February 2004 at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune. The eminent people working in combinatorial chemistry delivered a series of lectures covering variety of topics like Combinatorial Chemistry, Chemical Genetics, Diversity Oriented Synthesis of Combinatorial Libraries, Catalytic Antibodies, Nucleic Acids and Nucleotide Chemistry.

Dr K.N. Ganesh, Convener (extreme right) seen along with the distinguished speakers at the
 Workshop on Organic Synthesis Directed Towards Chemical Biology & Chemical Genetics

 More than fifty delegates from major pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions attended the workshop.  Dr S. Sivaram, Director, NCL, in his address emphasized that organic chemistry alone would not be sufficient to discover new bio‑active molecules and suggested that collaborative efforts would give more success than individual endeavours.  Dr K.N. Ganesh, Convener of the workshop and Head, Organic Chemistry Division, in his keynote lecture introduced the state‑of‑the‑art facilities established in the Combi Chem ‑ Bio Resource Center at NCL.

On the first day of the workshop, Prof. Prabhat Arya, National Research Council, Canada, delivered two lectures and introduced the modern methods in combinatorial chemistry and natural products chemistry.  Prof. Michael Blackburn, University of Sheffield, UK, spoke on how catalytic antibodies would be useful in catalyzing various biochemical reactions. Prof. Larry McLaughlin, Boston College, USA, in his lecture highlighted how nucleic acid chemistry can impact novel drug discovery. Dr Srinivas Hotha, Scientist, NCL, while speaking on diversity oriented synthesis (DOS), explained basics of DOS‑based drug discovery.

Prof. Prabhat Arya delivered two more lectures on the second day of the workshop covering the paradigm shift of organic chemistry to the field of combinatorial chemistry and stressing the role of natural products and natural product‑like molecules in the post genomic era.  Prof. Michael Blackburn highlighted their group efforts in understanding a variety of problems in biology using small molecule probes. Dr Yogesh Sanghvi, Rasayan Inc., USA, discussed at length the development of novel protecting groups for nucleosides.  Dr Srinivas Hotha delivered a lecture on the discovery of HR22C16, an Eg5 inhibitor, by chemical genetic screening.  Dr Sami Mukhopadhay of VLife Sciences Technologies gave a demonstration of their Molecular Drug Discovery Suite package.  Later, all the participants of the workshop visited the newly established state‑of‑the art facilities available at the Combi Chem – Bio Resource Center of the NCL.  Overall, this workshop has enlightened the participants on the role that organic chemists are going to play in the post‑genomic era.

 

 

Workshop on `Safety Aspects of Chemicals and Biological Hazards

 

A one‑day workshop on `Safety Aspects of Chemicals and Biological Hazards', was organized at the Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow, on 10 February 2004, for scientific and technical staff as well as research students to apprise them with safety precautions while working in the laboratory and to manage the maintenance of laboratory chemicals, disposal of wastes and washing etc. in a safe manner. The workshop began with the inaugural lecture by Prof. (Smt.) Sita Naik SGPGI, Lucknow, on `Safety aspects for handling of biological sample with reference to human'. Presiding over the workshop, Dr R.C. Srimal, former Director, ITRC, stressed the need for orientation of young scientists towards safe use of modern tools with judicious applications of safety measures to avoid the element of risk while working in laboratory. He expressed that such workshops are very useful for everybody involved in laboratory working and management.

Dr (Smt.) Ranjana Srivastava, Scientist, CDRI, Lucknow, in her lecture on `Safety guidelines for working with infectious organisms', highlighted the basic requirements for any laboratory using infectious toxic agents and their biosafety levels defining those condition under which such agents can be safely handled. She also illustrated various classes of biological agents based on their risk factors.

Prof. U.C. Chaturvedi, Emeritus Professor, ITRC, in his lecture outlined `The principle of microbiological safety and how to identify the associated risk. Explaining different categories of microbes and protective measures to be followed, he outlined how the microbial waste could be organized before its disposal.

The afternoon session was assigned for chemical safety measures, and it started with a lecture by Dr D.K. Agarwal, Scientist, ITRC, on `Reactive and toxic chemical hazards'. He described the chemical decomposition and classification of reactive chemicals, elaborating on the physical and chemical properties of compounds leading to potential health hazards. He stressed that the biological system response to a chemical must also be defined by species, sex, age and individual variations, and pointed out that  information on the dose or exposure is the prerequisite for the evaluating toxic hazards. He discussed the consequences of acute chronic exposure to such chemicals on different body systems. A knowledge regarding incompatible chemicals is necessary to avoid danger in storage of such combinations together. Proper disposal of chemical waste after neutralization, dilution and adsorption in a landfill while keeping the records of the quantities was also pointed out.

Delivering his lecture on `Laboratory chemical spills and hazardous waste management', by Dr J.R. Behari, Scientist, ITRC, and convener of the workshop, he explained how minimum exposure to chemical could ensure safety and avoid risk and how the liquid and solid chemicals spill in the laboratory could be managed. The clean up procedure was illustrated with example of inorganic mercury spill. Handling of acids, specially perchloric acid, with proper precaution was illustrated. Hazardous characteristics of chemical substances were explained and the role of personal behaviour in ensuring laboratory safety discussed. An overview of laboratory safety consideration was presented by Dr R.K. Upreti, Scientist, ITRC. Besides general lab safety measures, Dr Upreti also discussed the change in the physico chemical properties with alteration in molecular structure leading to health hazards. Some chemical hazards owing to strong acids, alkalies, organic substances, mercury and microorganisms were discussed and the first‑aid measures outlined.

In the concluding session, Er. K.K. Gupta, the then Officiating Director, ITRC, emphasized the significance of such workshops.

 

 

Workshop on Modelling of Creep in Engineering Alloys

 

A 2‑day workshop on modelling of creep in engineering alloys was held at the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore, in the recent past. This formed a part of the international collaboration National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), Jameshedpur, had with the Department of Materials, Imperial College, London over a period of three years. The Engineering and Physical Sciences' Research Council of UK supported this interaction.

The progress in modelling the creep behaviour of power generation and aerospace materials that has been achieved at Imperial College, London, NML, and elsewhere was presented at the workshop. The main focus has been on how to explicitly incorporate knowledge of the microstructural evolution and the deformation mechanisms using the formalism of Continuum Damage Mechanics. It is believed that with the availability of increased power of computing microstructure explicit modelling will replace the current life prediction methods for high temperature components, which is based on empiricism and requires costly long‑term experiments to be carried out.

Prof. Malcolm McLean, Department of Materials, Imperial College, introduced the topic and described the limitation of current method of creep life prediction of engineering materials. He also explained the evolution of continuum damage mechanics and its potential in describing structural changes taking place in engineering alloys during high temperature service. The illustrations clearly revealed that although the nature of the creep strain time plots of various materials may look similar the underlying mechanisms might be entirely different. He further explained how by conducting diagnostic tests one could identify this.

Prof. David Hayhurst of Department of Aerospace & Manufacturing Engineering, University of Manchester, explained how the information collected from uniaxial tests could be used in the design of components having a multi‑axial stress field. The stresses get redistributed owing to creep. The presence of a variable temperature field could make this even more complex. With the growing computational power it is possible to use continuum mechanics based formulation to map not only the evolving stress field but also plot damages accumulating at various places. Case studies depicting use of this method to map the performance of a welded joint were presented.

Prof. Brian Dyson of the Department of Materials, Imperial College, explained how our current knowledge of material behaviour, evolution of microstructure, phase transformation and environmental interaction could be used to develop the basic formalism of a model based approach for creep life prediction. The main advantage of this approach is that many of the parameters describing the creep behaviour can be calculated from our basic understanding of the underlying physical processes.

Dr Hector Basoalto displayed the main features of user‑friendly computer software developed by him incorporating the formalisms developed by Dyson and McLean. A number of case studies on nickel and aluminium based alloys were presented. It was shown that how by incorporating an additional mechanism depicting cavitation it was possible to explain the creep behaviour of conventionally cast nickel based superalloy using the material database for a directionally solidified alloy.

Dr R.N. Ghosh of NML explained that how by incorporating the concept of crystallographic slip in the model it is possible to explain creep anisotropy exhibited by single crystal superalloy. He also presented a case study illustrating how our current knowledge on the mechanisms of creep deformation and environmental attack could help in estimating lives of ageing high temperature components made of ferritic steel.

Dr Sanjay Sondhi of NML, showed evidence of negative creep in nickel based alloys used as turbine disc having bimodal distribution of particles. He further explained how modelling coupled with planned experiments could help establish the cause. Disc alloys are made through powder metallurgical route. A compressive stress field surrounding the precipitates is responsible for the phenomenon under tensile loading.

The workshop had about 40 delegates from various organizations like Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; National Institute of Technology; Surathkal; Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam; Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad; Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Bangalore; Hindustan Aeronautics Limited; GE Bangalore; CEMILAC; ALSTOM Power, Vadodara; Central Power Research Institute, Bangalore; NAL and NML.  The delegates actively participated in the lively discussion all through the proceedings.

Dr B.R. Pai, Director, NAL, inaugurated the workshop. Dr R.V. Krishnan of NAL welcomed the delegates. Prof. M. McLean apprised the participants about the workshop. Dr R.N.Ghosh acknowledged the generous support provided by EPSRC, UK; Department of Materials, Imperial College, London; NAL; NML; and a host of other organizations who sponsored the delegates in organizing this event.

 

 

Akhil Bharatiya Vigyan Sammelan

 

THE 3rd Akhil Bharatiya Vigyan Sammelan was held at the National Physical Laboratory(NPL), New Delhi, during 19‑21 February 2004. Sponsored and supported by CSIR; AICTE; Department of Indian System of Medicines – Delhi; IIT – Delhi; NSIT – Delhi and NIT – Hamirpur, the Swadeshi Science Movement of India, Delhi; the sammelan was organized in collaboration with NPL. More than 700 grassroot scientists, scholars and analysts from various reputed institutions like CSIR, DRDO, ISRO, ICAR, universities and colleges participated in the sammelan, which aimed at promoting awareness regarding ancient Indian scientific knowledge as well as the modern science and technology among the common man in his/her mother tongue.

Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, the then Minister for Human Resource Development, Science & Technology and Ocean Development and Vice‑President, CSIR and Chief‑Patron of this symposium, and several other dignitaries from various parts of the country including Dr R.A. Mashelkar, Director General CSIR, in their write‑ups and congratulatory messages emphasized the need to address the issues from a holistic point of view, taking into account the rich contributions of our immense wealth of traditional wisdom in bringing about the sustainable consumption, sustainable development and sustainable living through indigenous efforts utilizing our massive human and natural resources.

Shri Bachi Singh Rawat, the then Union Minister of State for Science & Technology inaugurated the sammelan. Earlier, Prof. Vikram Kumar, Director, NPL and the chairman of this sammelan, welcomed the gathering and expressed satisfaction over the efforts being made to increase the reach of science to the common man. Presiding over the meet, Prof. K.I. Vasu, former Director, CECRI, Karaikudi and National President of Vigyan Bharati, highlighted the perceptions of Vigyan Bharati and mentioned that the organization has conducted several Science Fairs in different Indian languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, etc.

Enumerating the proceedings of the sammelan, its' National Coordinator, Dr D.P. Bhatt pointed out that more than 500 research papers have been presented at the sammelan covering different subjects ranging from Indology, Traditional Science to Modern Science, including Ayurveda, Astrology,Physics, Chemistry, Material Sciences, Agriculture, Medicinal Plants, Health, Water, Environmental Sciences, etc. He emphasized the need to effectively propagate science communication in Hindi and in the mother tongue, in addition to English, without tampering with the originality of science. Prof. K.K. Aggrawal, Vice Chancellor, GGC Indra Prastha University, released a souvenir (in Hindi, pp.488), brought out on the occasion. The technical programme was conducted in 13 sessions organized in parallel sessions. Poster presentations were also held.

Renowned Ayurveda expert Vaidya Brihaspatidev Triguna, Prof. S.K. Joshi, former Director General CSIR and Dr M.P. Yadav of IVRI, Izzatnagar, were honoured with the Swadeshi Vigyan Puraskar 2004 for their outstanding contributions to different fields of Indian science. Six Arya Bhatt Puraskars were also given away to Air Vice Martial (Retd.) Vishwa Mohan Tiwari; Shri Shivendra Kumar Pandey,Chairman, Indian School of Mines; Dr Ramesh Somvansi, IVRI, Izzatnagar; Dr Gajendra Giri, IARI, New Delhi; Shri Jyoti Prakash Srivastava, Ujjain and Dr R.S. Yadav, All India Radio, Delhi, for science writing and journalism in Hindi. Eight Arya Bhatt Sammans were also presented to young researchers for their best paper presentations and best working science models exhibited in the At the end, Vaidya Dhanush Ram Sahu from Durg, Chhatishgarh, honoured Dr D.P. Bhatt in the presence of the dignitaries and the members of General Assembly of the Society and the Sammelan.

 

 

Training Programme on Work Culture, Managerial Excellence and Decision Making

 

A one‑day training programme on `Work Culture, Managerial Excellence and Decision Making in the context of Globalization' was held at the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehra Dun, on 19 February 2004 for its senior and middle‑level scientists and officers from administration. The programme was conducted by Shri S.K. Sabherwal, a senior management consultant and was attended by 30 participants.

During the past 15 years, India has witnessed an era of monumental economic reforms. The emphasis has shifted from control to incentive, regulation to promotion, and autarky to globalization. This has generated tremendous competitive pressure in the economic environment. It has become necessary to improve the skills to cope up with challenge posed by globalization.

The training programme highlighted the additional core managerial competencies required for achieving further performance enhancement and better professional work commitment, and the unique and critical Globalised Managerial Skills – qualitatively and dimensionally different from run‑of‑the milk skills – which drive other world class institutions for achievement of globalized standards of Performance Efficiency, the key `mantra' for survival in this era of fierce world wide competition.

Maintaining that the best world class institutions don't do different things, but do things differently, Shri Sabherwal advocated four powerful strategies to meet and beat the competition headlong:

 

 

Short‑term Course on Earthquake‑resistant Design & Construction

EARTHQUAKE Engineering has assumed much greater significance since the deadly earthquake that struck Bhuj on 26 January 2001. The visible issues requiring a review of the current approach included ignorance of earthquake‑resistant design, continuation of age‑old traditional construction practices and disregard to the coal provisions. With a view to generating awareness regarding earthquake preparedness and mitigation among the middle and senior level engineers of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee, organized a training course on `Earthquake‑resistant Design & Construction' during March 2004. Twenty‑five participants from DDA and MCD participated in the course, which comprised eight technical sessions covering a wide spectrum of earthquake engineering. The aspects covered include seismicity, lessons from earlier earthquakes, design philosophies and principals, codal provisions, seismic evaluation and retrofitting and soil liquifaction. An interactive session was also held which specially addressed pragmatic problems faced by the engineers.

Prof. Prem Vrat, Director, IIT‑Roorkee, inaugurated the course and Shri V.K. Mathur, Director, CBRI, presided over. Speaking on the occasion Prof. Prem Vrat stressed the need to synergize the theoretical concepts in earthquake engineering with practice and organization of such courses will help in this task. He also released a book on Earthquake‑resistant Design & Construction authored by Dr Shailesh Agrawal, Ajay Chourasia and Pankaj Agarwal. Shri Mathur highlighted the need of capacity building in the domain of disaster mitigation.

Dr Shailesh Agrawal, Course Coordinator, spoke about the past earthquake disasters in India and emphasized the need for evolving preparedness strategies for disaster mitigation and management at different levels by bringing in necessary modifications in the land‑use zoning practices, building bye‑laws and regulations. He also thanked DST, DDA, and MCD for sponsoring the course. Shri B.S. Gupta, Coordinator, Structural Engineering Division, Introduced the Chief Guest Prof. Prem Vrat. Shri Ajay Chourasia, Organizing Secretary, proposed a vote of thanks.

A series of such courses will also be held in December this year.

 

 

Prof. Holderich delivers Dow Endowment Lecture at NCL

 

PROF. Wolfgang F. Holderich, Director, Chemical Technology and Heterogeneous Catalysis, University of Technology, RWTH Aachen, Germany, delivered the first Dow Endowment lecture on 11 March 2004 in honour of Dr Paul Ratnasamy at National Chemical Laboratory, Pune. Dr Ratnasamy, who was Director of NCL from 1996 to 2002, made substantial contributions to both fundamental and applied research in catalysis. His research has resulted in the publication of 160 papers in international journals and about 125 patent applications. He established the Catalysis Division at NCL in 1980 and was its Head until he took over as the Director in 1996. Prof Holderich spoke on `New Heterogeneously Catalyzed Processes for Environmentally Benign and Sustainable Chemical Production'.

Prof. Wolfgang F. Holderich, Director, Chemical Technology and Heterogeneous Catalysis,
University of Technology, RWTH Aachen, Germany, delivering the first Dow Endowment lecture at NCL

In his lecture, Prof Holderich gave glimpses of the current chemical research in `Green chemistry'. He said, “In the past, we always thought that environmental protection was an expense. But environmental concerns and regulations have increased in the public, political and economic world over the last fifteen years because the quality of life is strongly connected to a clean environment.” Sustainable use of renewable natural resources was included in the agenda 21 of the Rio de Janeiro concept for the 21st Century.

He gave measures for sustainable development, economically benign and sustainable production and strategies for environment protection. For sustainable development, he said, “The chemical industry is targeting the sustainable improvement in the areas of environment, health and safety. Economic consideration should not be favoured over safety, health and environment.  The end product should be recyclable and easily disposable”. Presenting the criteria for economically benign and sustainable production, he said, “It is desirable to convert 100% of the raw materials into 100% of the desired product, no waste or by‑product formation, only one‑product, no emission and reducing reaction steps”. While elaborating on strategies for environment protection, he recommended that the waste produced in the chemical processes have to be destroyed in a consecutive procedure, in a separate unit and the formation of waste and by‑products should be avoided during the production of the desired compound by the application of catalysts.

The development of more efficient and selective catalysts and the realization of new and sustainable process technology are strongly related to environmental compatibility. This can be achieved in two ways:— One is the “end‑of pipe” technology in which processes are adapted to the more severe emission control regulations via consecutive costly separation procedures and catalytic transformations, such as in exhaust gas car converters. The second approach is the production or reactor integrated environment protection. In this approach, the formation of pollutants is minimized or even completely avoided by the development of alternative technology in chemical transformations. The interest of the chemical industry is in sustainable and green developments in which catalysts act as modern tools to carry out reactions that are very selective to the desired products. The catalyzed reactions, typically employed in the petrochemical and chemical industries, also enable the production of the desired products through utilization of the resources without the formation of by‑products and waste.

He gave examples of a few novel catalytic processes that are environmentally safer than the earlier processes. The new tert‑butylamine production via direct amination of isobutene over solid catalyst is an environment friendly and sustainable process in which the number of steps are reduced, no hazardous chemicals are produced and the amount of starting material per tonne of tertiary‑butylamine is reduced by 80% as compared to the conventional process. e Caprolactam, one of the top fifty chemicals, is an important precursor for nylon‑6 and plastics and development of a new sustainable production route to caprolactam is urgently necessary, since about 4.5 million tonnes of it are consumed every year. He said a new caprolactam process via Beckmann‑rearrangement over a zeolite catalyst has 97 to 98% selectivity and has been commercialized recently in Japan. He also cited the examples of new routes for aziridine production by direct dehydration of ethanolamine and for citral production using solid catalysts.

Due to economic and ecological reasons, renewable feedstocks are finding increasing interest in recent years.  These feedstocks can be based on the over‑capacities of our agricultural economy and save crude oil and gas resources.  At present in USA and in some parts of the Europe, renewable raw materials contribute ten per cent to the feedstock consumption of the chemical industry and it is estimated that 25% of organic chemicals will originate from renewable feed stocks by the year 2020.  He also listed a few of the chemicals being manufactured from renewable feedstocks including p‑cymene. Though a few chemicals have been commercialized so far, in most cases the products obtained from renewable raw materials are not competitive with the products of petrochemistry at present because of the low cost of crude oil. He urged chemists, biotechnologists and agriculturists to work together to develop oils and fats as renewable feedstocks for the chemical industry. “In the near future, we may see super absorbent diapers made from starch and cellulose,” he added.

Earlier, Dr S. Sivaram, Director, NCL and Chairman, NCL Research Foundation in his welcome remarks briefly outlined Dr Ratnasamy's seminal contribution to the chemistry of catalysis.

 

Dr Paul Ratnasamy wins International Zeolite Association Award

DR Paul Ratnasamy, former Director, National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, has won the International Zeolite Association (IZA) Award for the year 2004 "for his seminal contributions to invention and innovation in the field of catalysis by zeolites". The award was presented to him during the 14th International Zeolite Conference held at Cape Town, South Africa, from 25 to 30 April 2004. This is the highest international award for lifetime achievement for research in zeolite chemistry and catalysis, and is presented every four years to a distinguished member of the community. During the four-year period the awardee serves as the ambassador of IZA to the world zeolite community and conducts lectures across the world on Zeolites. This is the first time that an Asian has received this honour.


 

 

Dr Ratnasamy has more than 180 publications in international journals and 100 patents to his credit. Importantly, six of the catalysts developed by his group at NCL have been commercialized by the chemical industry. The other honours and awards won by him include: the national honour Padma Shri, S.S. Bhatnagar Prize, and VASVIK, FICCI, FIE Foundation and Bhasin awards, Third World Academy UNIDO Technology Award etc. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of several international journals in the area of catalysis.