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INSA Meeting concluded
The INSA meeting at NIO continued on the second day too. Scientists who were shortlisted for INSA medals and prizes are requested to speak on their work. This provides an opportunity to listen experts from various fields of science and technology and understand latest developments in their field of science. The first lecture was delivered by Dr S. Chandrasekaran (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore) on the glycosidase inhibitors. Dr Chandrasekaran described the synthesis of novel thiosugar (thiolevomannosan) derivatives that have unique conformationally locked structures which exhibit higher inhibition of a-1,2 mannosidase compared to the well known inhibitors of the enzyme. This was a Golden Jubilee Commemoration Medal for Chemical Sciences. This was followed by the second (The Satyendranath Bose Medal) lecture on the Basic constituents of matter by Prof D.P. Roy (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai). He opined that the understanding of the basic constituents of matter from protons and neutrons to the quarks and leptons, as of now, is not yet over. The discovery of Higgs bosons and Supersymmetric particles, which are not yet seen, would shed light on the nature of phase transition the Universe went through after a few picoseconds of its creation. Dr G. Soundararajan (International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy, Hyderabad) explained properties and performance of the new detonation spray 'Plasma Sprayed Tungsten Carbide-Cobalt (WC-Co) coating. He also provided future directions in respect of detonation spray coatings. This work was awarded the INSA Prize for Materials Science this year. The Golden Jubilee Commemoration Medal for Biological Sciences for the year 2007 went to Dr G.P. Talwar (Talwar Research Foundation, New Delhi). In his lecture he provided an account of his discovery of a medicine on leprosy and tuberculosis. The vaccine has helped India in reducing large number of lepers. He said the same is also under clinical trials in Crohns disease and some cancers. Besides this, he also briefly described the development of a polyherbal vaginal tablet (Praneem) which is effective in curing up to 95% of women suffering from reproductive tract infections due to a variety of aerobic, anaerobic, micro-organisms. Dr G.S. Khush (University of California Davis, USA) described an account of development a variety of rice with a high level of iron, zinc and Vitamin A. This work, he did while in International Rice Research Institute. Very large population especially from developing countries depends on rice as their primary, or at times, only food. He hopes the improved varieties would be available for commercial production within 4-5 years. Dr Khush was awarded CV Raman Medal. The lectures were continued on the third day too. Prof K. Vijayaraghavan (National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, Bangalore) showed, using olfactory circuit of the fruitfly, how genetics is used to decipher the mechanisms that underlie constancy and change in the complex network of many millions of nerve cells. These cells require remaining constant because they need to perform their function for life. Contradictory to this, they also need to change and adapt when confronted with stress, damage or the need to learn and remember. This lecture was a part of Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture series of INSA. Prof N.K. Ganguly (Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi) spoke on the present outbreak of H5N1 Avian influenza in the southeast Asian countries in a SS Bhatnagar Medal Lecture. He indicated that India experienced two outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus in poultry in Nandurbar and Jalgao (Maharashtra), Uchhal (Gujarat), Burhanpur (Madhya Pradesh) districts from January to April 2006 and subsequently in Manipur during July 2007. The relationship between the Indian viruses and those in the east Africa/ west Asia flyway of migratory birds and the position of Nandurbar in this route suggests that the viruses in India may have been introduced through migratory birds. Prof Ganguly stressed the need of integrated and coordinated animal and public health multi-sectoral strategies at local, national, regional and global levels. Improvements in governance and legislation and strengthened public-private partnership are some of the short and medium term actions and challenges before us for control and mitigation of this strain, he highlighted. The meeting ended with presentation of awards and medals for Young Scientists, AK Bose memorial award, LSS Kumar memorial award and an anniversary address of the outgoing president Dr R.A. Mashelkar. Dr Mashelkar handed over the presidentship of INSA to Prof M Vijayan, Honorary Professor, Molecular Biophysics unit of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
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