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Promote chemistry in a big way

Promote chemistry in a big way
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A RSC top official calls for galvanizing drug research BH RAMAKRISHNA As India has been battling with many a seasonal and other disease,...

A RSC top official calls for galvanizing drug research BH RAMAKRISHNA prom2As India has been battling with many a seasonal and other disease, epidemics, focus now shifted to control them rapidly. Although drug research has been going on at various levels-both public and private sector laboratories, there is no coordinated effort to make the drugs available to common man. India and United Kingdom have inked a pact in January this year to pave the way for enhanced cooperation in drug research. Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) of Britain, a premire institute of international repute, has initiated several steps to kindle interest in drug research and manufacturing along with NIPER and National Facility For Drug Discovery Centre and Instrumentation Support to Small Manufacturing Pharma Enterprises, IICT etc. The second UK-India Medchem Congress was held at IICT premises in which a majority of public private drug research institutions have participated. RSC, which played a key role in the Congress, has suggested ways and means to make drug research easier. Dr. David R Clarke, Head of operations of RSC, in a chat with The Hans India on the sidelines of the Congress, strongly felt that promotion of study of Chemistry is the only way to sustain drug research. Excerpts from the interview:
As the MOU has been signed between UK and India, what are the main areas of research that can be taken up immediately?
The MOU helps in sharing of ideas and knowledge with Industry and academia. The collaboration will help address the serious and chronic diseases like TB, Malaria, Cancer etc. We try our best to bring all the research units under one umbrella so that partners can mutually collaborate.
Malaria is still prevalent. So is TB. Of course, the number of patients affected with carcinoma have been on the rise... So, if we start collaboration, when will they fructify?
I see a big push in cancer research is on, and I strongly hope some light at the end of the tunnel shortly. Malaria and TB can also be contained in due course. From identifying the disease to drug research to clinical trial and finally to the market.. it takes a long time and in some cases even 20 years. How to reduce the time gap?
That's why this collaboration. 20 years is too long. All our effort is to minimize the gap. And in this endeavour, the role of research units especially in private sector should come forward. If they do research and develop medicines independently, it will take too long and involves huge expenditure. They should share their ideas and only then we can help the society.
You want drug research should be done on a massive scale but on the other hand, study of Chemistry is on the decline..
A: I don't fully agree with it. Research in chemistry has been on. But as you said, with the population explosion, there is need to develop medicines on a larger scale. For that, study of Chemistry is necessary. I advise the educational institutions especially universities and also industry to promote study of chemistry. May be study of chemistry is not fashionable in present times. But, everyone should keep in mind that environment for chemistry is good. For research to continue, we should also keep the bright chemistry students in the same domain. They should not go for some other IT jobs or engineering positions as they might be lucrative.
What should be role of the government in this regard?
A: Government, Universities and Industry.. all should prioritize chemistry. Yes, of course, government's role is even more vital. Children should be encouraged to follow chemistry. We, at the Royal Society, have been focusing on this and we introduce special programmes at all our five branches in India..
Do you see any problem in India right now..?
Yes, the number of chemists is not up to the desired level. There should be more chemists and to have them, we should encourage study of chemistry. There are many drug research units in Hyderabad, be it NIPER, USP, Reddy Labs, Shanta Biotech etc. Do you think, Hyderabad can be made the hub of research activity? Yes, why not? I suggest more centres from overseas can come over here since the concentration on drug research is there. As far as drug research is concerned, Hyderabad makes some senses. I hope more foreign companies will eventually set up their centres in future.
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