Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, visited the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), an autonomous institute funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, on 3rd February, 2016. He was accompanied by Shri Jayant Sahasrabuddhe, National Organising Secretary, Vijnanabharati. Dr. Arvind Duggal, Adviser, DBT, was also present on this occasion.The Minister toured the Microbial Culture Collection (MCC), the third largest facility of such a kind in the world.
While acknowledging the expanded efforts made by MCC in exploring and preserving the rich microbial biodiversity of India, he stated that that the facility should carry out more focussed research in one or two areas.Dr. Harsh Vardhan asked for a comprehensive plan to be presented to DBT and the Ministry of Science and Technology, outlining a road map for carrying out such focused research and for sharing the cutting-edge facilities available at MCC. The Director of NCCS, Dr. Shekhar Mande briefed the Minister about the several contributions made by NCCS in the national interest and some of the new initiatives planned such as establishing an induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) bank, development of patient-derived cell lines from the Indian population and mapping of the human gut micro-biome of the Indian population.The Minister noted that since its inception in1988, NCCS has been at the forefront of cutting-edge research in diverseareas of modern cell biology, especially those addressing paramount issues
related to human health, such as cancer, diabetes and other metabolic diseases, infectious diseases and regenerative medicine. He was especially pleased to learn that NCCS has not only been actively engaged in productive basic research, but has also been contributing towards the betterment of society through other means, such as by generating high-quality human resources through its educational and training programmes, transferring its technologies to public hospitals and through outreach activities.Dr. Harsh Vardhan later visited some of the laboratories of NCCS and the animal cell repository of NCCS, where he interacted with the scientists, students and staff. During his visit to this national facility, he acknowledged the enormity of the task of supplying cell lines to many institutions across the country.