IITs, medical institutes partner in Centre's bio-design alliance

IITs, medical institutes partner in Centre's bio-design alliance

The Centre has initiated steps to build a ''National Bio-Design Alliance'' to facilitate twinning of Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs) with institutions of medical excellence in the country that will produce a “new breed of innovators” in biotechnology and medicine, Dr M K Bhan, secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), announced here on Saturday.

 Engineers now are “disconnected” from patients and public health programmes, while doctors are “disconnected” from science and its research pursuits.

“So, we want new institutions to effect that connectivity, wherein each IIT will get to partner with one are more medical institutions of excellence to also identify and bring forth socially relevant technological systems that will enter the domain of patients or public health systems,” Bhan said here after Inaugurating the Health Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC) a unique joint initiative of IIT-Madras and DBT under Union Science and Technology Ministry.

The HTIC, housed in the new IIT-Madras Research Park, is the fruition of this central initiative after the DBT cleared the proposal in September 2011. The Centre has so far sanctioned Rs 20 crore for the HTIC to set up the lab here, which is now a formal legal entity with a governing board and structurally integrated with IIT-Madras.

Dr Bhan, also a member of the Prime Minister’s Scientific Advisory Council, emphasised that a traditional institute or University “cannot bring about this connectivity” as IIT-Madras could do. Under this new initiative, the focus will be on researchers and professionals being “inspired by a medical problem in the community”, said Bhan while unveiling HTIC in the presence of IIT faculty and experts.

“This is a social elevation lab in that sense,” said Bhan. For instance, medical experts working on certain problems may require the engineering and high level computing skills of the IITs and HTIC will provide a platform for such partnerships, he noted. These new entities will be Section 25 “not for profit companies,” within institutions like the IITs.