India becomes member of EU biological research facility

India becomes member of EU biological research facility
India on Monday became the associate member of a major European research facility that will allow hundreds of scientists explore new frontiers in biology.
 
The agreement of association was signed between Regional Centre of Biotechnology, Faridabad and European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Grenoble, France. The three-year membership came with a membership fee of Rs 17.5 crore.
 
With the signing of the agreement, India became the 22nd country to join ESRF, set up and maintained by the European Union. The money has been provided by the Department of Biotechnology under the Union Science and Technology Ministry.
 
ESRF produces the world's brightest source of hard X-rays - 100 billion times brighter than the X-rays used in hospitals – used to look into protein structures.
 
The French facility has 43 highly specialised experimental stations, called beamlines, each equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which are in demand for scientists all over the world.
 
“We were using an ESRF beamline since 2008 with successful results. But the new pact would improve our access to other facilities that ESRF provides,” Sudhanshu Vrati, executive director of the RCB told DH after signing the agreement here.
 
The pact provides access to multiple & more intense beamlines for macromolecular crystallography and also small angle X-ray scattering. In addition, access to the cryo-electron microscopy facility of ESRF will be available from November 2017 onwards.
 
India joins the ESRF at a critical time as a new extremely brilliant source synchrotron source will become operational in 2020.
 
While the Department of Atomic Energy also offers a synchrotron source at one of its centres in Indore, the researchers said the indigenous source is not so powerful to conduct difficult experiments. “The ESRF beam is at least 10,000 times better than the DAE one,” said Deepak Nair, a scientist at the RCB.
 
The access to the previous ESRF beamline (BM14) resulted in over 200 research publications, deposition of over 600 structures in the Protein Data Bank, training of more than 150 research personnel and over 100 Ph. D theses involve data collected under this programme.
 

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