Dublin Core




<p>In 1944, when Homi Bhabha wrote to Dorabji Tata about setting up an institute for advanced physics, he stressed that the disappointing state of research in India was due to the absence of “outstanding pure research workers”. These were the origins for TIFR. It’s a different climate today. One of the chapters in the Research theme takes a selection of stories that highlight the perceived differences in fundamental (or basic, or pure) research and applied (or translational) research. Another chapter looks at the shifts in the areas of research covered in biology over the last 60 years, and the meaning embedded in the nomenclature.</p>
<p><br />The feedback loop between the research question and the tools available to answer them is often debated in the scientific community. The query and tools chapter picks out stories from the history of experimentation at NCBS and TIFR’s molecular biology unit, and the occasional bridge between research and industry.</p>
<p><br />Then, there is the process of the scientific work itself. Stories from the process is about the backstory, as it were, to the published paper, from collecting seaweed from outside TIFR to notes about tree-living mammals on Braille paper.<br /><br /></p>
<p>The Institute had been around for more than 16 years already. But Homi Bhabha thought he’d explain again to his audience what he meant by the word ‘fundamental research’ during the inauguration of the TIFR building on January 15, 1962. “Basic investigations into the behaviour and structure of the physical world, without any consideration of their utility or whether the knowledge so acquired would ever be of any practical value,” he said.</p>
<p><br />It was a valuable sentiment at the time, this pivot away from all things practical. “If much of the applied research done in India today is disappointing or of very inferior quality, it is entire due to the absence of a sufficient number of outstanding pure research workers,” said Bhabha, in a March 1944 pitch for the Institute to Sir Sorab Tata. The idea was simple: focus on research for the sake of pursuing a question, without any regard to application. The featured video includes more excerpts from those 1962 speeches.</p>
<p><br />But, as is seen in his 1945 Institute inauguration speech included in the slideshow below, it was not all black and white. The application of science was always considered an end that would justify the means: a puritanical study with blinders. “Science forms the basis of our whole social structure without which life as we know would be inconceivable,” he said. “As Marx said, ‘Man's power of nature is at the root of history’...Science has at last opened up the possibility of freedom for all from long hours of manual drudgery.”</p>
<p><br />The history of NCBS, too, is sprinkled with this back and forth between fundamental and applied research. This includes the possibility of collaborations with industry, a topic that has been debated at length at NCBS and one that predictably goes back to the nature of the research question. See the meeting minutes from April 2000 in the slideshow below, where the faculty offer their diverse views in response to a potential collaboration with Reliance Industries. Also listen to the interview excerpt of Sudhir Krishna, a faculty member at NCBS. He discusses his advocacy of industry and university collaborations, adding that NCBS today is “mature enough to benefit from different viewpoints.” <span>4-Toggle-A3</span></p>
<p><br />Aditi Bhattacharya, a research faculty at InStem, recollects the atmosphere and the nature of the basic/applied toggle a little over a decade ago when she was a PhD student at NCBS. <span>4-Toggle-A1</span> It’s worth pointing out despite this apparent divide between fundamental and applied work, NCBS did seem to have an open approach to research from the start. That is, one could probe fundamental research questions that are driven both by plain old curiosity as well as societal needs.</p>
<p><br />Take, for instance, a time at the start of the Centre. In the mid 1990s, Villoo Patell joined NCBS after her PhD, with a broader intent of being a “bridge between academia and industry and do something innovative in agriculture.” In her clip, Patell, founder of the biotechnology company, Avesthagen, shares how she kept expanding her group and eventually morphed her work into a startup in the late 1990s. <span>4-Toggle-A2</span> That is roughly the model that the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) operates in today. Hear Taslimarif Saiyed, former NCBS student and current director of C-CAMP, as he shares his opinion on its benefits in the learning trajectory of a student at NCBS. <span>4-Toggle-A4</span></p>
<p><br />In some ways, the debate can start to feel a little tiring. Does fundamental research have meaning without application, however invisible it is? And does applied research have sufficient value and depth without a fundamental research underpinning? That’s the nature of the toggle for TIFR and NCBS, and, arguably, much of the scientific world. But in just the juxtaposition of those questions, one sees blurry boundaries. In her interview, Shannon Olsson shares her experience prior to joining NCBS. Sometimes, just in the very nature of the debate questions emerges a third view, the falseness of the dichotomy. <span>4-Toggle-A5</span></p>
<p> </p>
<p>How does one remember things? Learning to ride a bicycle, for instance, might have been a wobbly experience and resulted in a few falls. But over time, pedalling seems rather effortless. One just seems to know it. This information – memory – is somehow encoded in the brain.</p>
<p><br />Existing research suggests that electrical signals across nerve cells tweak the strength of synapses, the connections between the nerve cells. Memories form as a result of these changes in synapses. But that still doesn’t tell us how the synapse ‘remembers’ its state. One way for the synapse to have stable changes is with some sort of a biological switch that might emerge from a network of biochemical reactions.</p>
<p><br />This network was on Upinder Bhalla’s mind when he joined NCBS in early 1996. Bhalla had just moved to the Centre from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, where he and Ravi Iyengar, his post doctoral advisor, had charted out a model of molecular interactions. They looked at signalling pathways in memory – a sort of molecular call-and-response eventually resulting in some biological function, like dividing a cell. Bhalla and Iyengar focused their efforts on how the pathways interact with each other, and then see if the network threw up any new properties. It was a laborious process. Bhalla pored over paper after paper for every link in the network, and did simulation after simulation to see how it behaved. And just when he thought he was done, Iyengar would ask him to add another pathway to the map.</p>
<p><br />For the first few years, as he settled into NCBS, Bhalla had little to show in terms of publication or research output. He had doubts of the work and where it was leading. But NCBS had given him the freedom to pursue his work. And Iyengar had more faith, and knew they were onto something special.</p>
<p><br />It was special. They could start to see unique properties embedded in the network models that hinted at the possibility of information being a biological commodity. Through simulations, they showed that a feedback loop in the biochemical reactions could result in <a href="">bistable behaviour</a>, and thus could be a way to store memory. In his interview clip, Bhalla reflects on this time and the impact of their 1999 Science paper. <span>4-Shifts-A1</span></p>
<p><br />Bhalla’s hiring was a research shift of sorts at NCBS. Nobody at NCBS worked on that kind of stuff. It was also in keeping with a broader plan. The guiding principles at the new institute were roughly to find a really qualified person, whatever their field might be, and let them pursue their science with freedom. But at the same time, keep a broader institute vision in mind to ensure that, as a whole, the research output at NCBS was a balanced approach to studying biology across scales. In September 1992, NCBS chalked out possible areas of research at the new institute. Obaid Siddiqi’s interview clip in the Gallery and Jayant Udgaonkar’s memories of that meeting shown below reflect this philosophy. <span>4-Shifts-A0</span></p>
<p><br />When Siddiqi started at TIFR in 1962, he had already established his name in the field. With Alan Garen, his post doctoral advisor, he led the discovery of suppressors of “nonsense” mutations. These are mutations that would prematurely terminate the translation of the genetic code into proteins.</p>
<p><br />Starting a Molecular Biology Unit (MBU) at TIFR was a deliberate name choice, a departure from the classical aspects of zoology and botany, and a focus on using genetics to look at molecular structure across life. It was a new way of addressing biology at the time. PK Maitra joined soon after Siddiqi to focus on yeast genetics. Along with Zita Lobo, he would, over the years, become a leading expert in understanding the genetics of breaking down sugar. 1960s at MBU centred on bacterial and yeast genetics to a large extent. The featured slideshow below shows records that discuss research focus in those early years at TIFR.</p>
<p><br />“Although we are quite conscious of the fact that, in the long run the MBU must concentrate its efforts on a well defined long term programme, we have felt that such a programme of collaborative work should develop in a natural way after necessary trial and exploration,” Siddiqi wrote in a November 1966 note to MGK Menon, then director of TIFR. In the same note, Siddiqi makes his intention clear of broadening the work to neurobiology and developmental biology. This note came after his trip to the United States in the summer of 1966, and at a time when there was a broader push in the field to move beyond unicellular organisms and classical biology. In June 1963, Brenner sent a <a href="">letter</a> to then director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. He opined that “the future of molecular biology lies in the extension of research to other areas of biology, notably development and the nervous system”. Brenner focused on the nematode, C. elegans. Seymour Benzer, another pioneering researcher at Caltech, chose Drosophila.</p>
<p><br />Siddiqi would eventually work closely with Benzer at Caltech. In a 1969 letter, Seymour Benzer invites Siddiqi and says he is glad Siddiqi was “becoming serious about switching to neurobiology”. After the Caltech sabbatical, Siddiqi would return to TIFR, and persuade a few others to join him in the Drosophila shift in the early 1970s. Siddiqi discusses this switch in his interview clip. The switch would shape the course of work to date at NCBS and TIFR’s Department of Biological Sciences. <span>4-Shifts-A3</span></p>
<p><br />The group was also open to hiring people from different backgrounds. For instance, in 1968, P Babu, a particle physicist, returned from a post doctoral stint at Caltech and felt compelled to pursue molecular biology. In the featured video, Babu reflects upon that period and his future work on the neurogenetics of C. elegans. And in parallel with these areas, a disease model approach to biology made a brief appearance in TIFR in the 1970s, with MR Das’s work on breast cancer.</p>
<p><br />By the latter half of the 1970s, the collaborations between Siddiqi and his student, Veronica Rodrigues, led to the understanding of olfactory and taste genes in Drosophila. Shobhona Sharma recalled a rich intellectual environment coupled with an idyllic setting. “In the Shantiniketan style, we would carry the blackboard to the West lawns with the magnificent sea-view,” she wrote, as part of a series of memories to celebrate Obaid Siddiqi’s 80th birthday.</p>
<p><br />In the early 1980s, Gaiti Hasan joined the group as a post doctoral researcher, with an interest of using genetics to study behaviour. There weren’t many places in the world doing this at the time and TIFR was one of them. Listen to Hasan’s interview clip in the Gallery as she discusses the difficulties in looking at genetics of behaviour in those early days. Hasan joined to work with LC Padhy, but ended up working solo most of the time since Padhy was looking at oncogenes in Drosophila, genes that cause a normal cell to become a tumour cell. It was an extension, in a sense, of his cancer-related work with MR Das in the 1970s.</p>
<p><br />This was also a period when Siddiqi and Vidyanand Nanjundiah were drafting the plan of a new biology centre, and one where they felt they should also pursue the biology of higher organisms. The 1983 proposal hints at a centre that will make research connections at different levels of biology. “It was clear that we wanted (the) Centre to be devoted to areas at all levels, starting with biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology at the hardware lowest level and neurobiology, behaviour, theoretical biology, evolution at the higher level - and between those which groups you choose and which particular [group you develop] would depend on what kind of people you got, [but] that you cannot spell out anyway,” said Siddiqi in his 2003 oral history interview. K VijayRaghavan, who joined as a PhD student at TIFR in the late 1970s, would later become a key driver of developmental biology at NCBS. And his collaboration with Rodrigues shifted her group’s emphasis from neurobiology of behaviour to developmental neuroscience.</p>
<p><br />The initial faculty at NCBS did not have a biochemistry focus. When Jayant Udgaonkar moved from Stanford University to TIFR/NCBS in 1990, he brought in that angle. Over time, he developed a strong research foundation in protein folding, misfolding and unfolding. Indeed, a wordcloud extracted from abstracts of NCBS papers published in the first five years throws up one outlier: <a href="">protein(s)</a>. Today, his group’s work on protein structures also attempts to connect with understanding diseases, as is evident in papers on protein malfunctions that may lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.</p>
<p><br />In 1998, R Sowdhamini joined the faculty. Over the years, her group honed a slightly different line of research on proteins. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. But just knowing the list of these constituent chain elements may not necessarily tell us much about the function of the chain – the protein. Two proteins that have a similar function may be comprised of very different amino acid sequences, perhaps by random evolutionary events. Using a variety of computational techniques, Sowdhamini’s group studies what similarities might exist between different protein structures. This computational work is in itself a bridge between biochemistry foundations and theoretical predictions on protein function.<br /><br />Making connections is part of the underlying belief of the September 1992 sketch of areas of research at NCBS. The study of infectious diseases surfaced at NCBS that year with the hiring of Sudhir Krishna. Here again, as Siddiqi mentions in his interview clip, research area names were moulded around the work of individuals, not the other way around. With the addition of more faculty, an area of research that was called “Immunology” became “Biology of infectious diseases”, and then, by 2000, “Cellular organization and signalling” to reflect the broader interests of the area faculty. The study of the life and death of immune systems got a boost around that time with the hiring of Apurva Sarin.</p>
<p><br />Today, relations between medicine and research have strengthened considerably. In January 2016, the campus announced a new program for <a href="">“Accelerating the application of Stem cell technology in Human Disease”</a>, or ASHD. Under the program, inStem, NCBS and NIMHANS will collaborate on using stem cells to study mental illnesses like schizophrenia. The program is funded by the Department of Biotechnology and the Pratiksha Trust. In addition to mental illnesses, inStem and CMC Vellore will develop methods like gene therapy to combat hereditary blood disorders like Sickle Cell Disease, which has a high prevalence rate in India.</p>
<p><br />The September 1992 sketch had a column for future research. Titled "other areas", this column included theoretical biology. And it did happen, though defining a start point for the theory group is a little tricky. Since his joining in 1996, Upinder Bhalla has deftly gone back and forth between theory and experiment. And Satyajit Mayor started conversations with a physicist, Madan Rao in the late 1990s. Over the years, this, along with a “Physics in Biology” programme initiative in the early 2000s, led to the introduction of theoretical biology at NCBS, a distinguishing feature when compared to many biology centres in the world. Today, the theory group stands as a cohesive unit with a core faculty, and others like Bhalla and Sowdhamini who cross over from biochemistry and neurobiology. The underlying philosophy of the group is one where organisms are seen as “living machines: products of natural selection which consume energy to achieve specific goals”.</p>
<p><br />The 1983 proposal also envisioned a future centre with work on “yet higher levels such as ecology, social behaviour and evolution”. It also featured in the September 1992 sketch, still chalked out as a future area of research. Remarkably, this happened, starting with the Memorandum of Understanding in December 1999 to start an MSc programme in Wildlife Biology, between the Centre for Wildlife Studies, National Institute for Advanced Studies and NCBS. The slideshow and Ajith Kumar’s interview clip offer more insight. The programme eventually kicked off in 2003. And it was around that time that NCBS started hiring a program in ecology and evolution, with Uma Ramakrishnan’s work on the genetic heritage of South Asia and then, later, with Mahesh Sankaran’s work on savanna ecosystems in Africa and India. <span>4-Shifts-A4</span></p>
<p><br />With that, pretty much every area of research mentioned in the 1992 sketch is covered across the campus. Which then begs the question, where to next? Mayor hints at some possibilities in his excerpt. Listen to him discuss the potential for NCBS to bridge the scales of biology through an intricate understanding of information flow in organisms. <span>4-Shifts-A2</span></p>
<br /><br />
<p>On a cold February morning in 1998, Sumantra Chattarji and his family stared at the charred wreck of their home in Metford, near the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They had rushed out in time before it completely burned down. But everything they had owned, and packed, ready to take to NCBS, was gone. All Chattarji could do was to briefly go back into the wreck to look for things like their passports and his baby’s ultrasound picture.</p>
<p><br />Chattarji eventually made it to Bangalore later that year. He had also convinced NCBS to let him ship an electrophysiology rig from Boston. But the rig languished in NCBS – there were no animals for his research. Without a clear project to work on, Chattarji did what he could for the next few months: read. Unsurprisingly perhaps, he read about stress.</p>
<p><br />Soon, he formulated a plan to study stress in the amygdala, the part of the brain related to emotions. His research partner? A former student of agriculture, Ajai Vyas. Had he ever seen a rat, Chattarji asked. Well, they did have a chapter on how to kill rats with pesticides, Vyas said. Perfect, Chattarji thought. “This is going to work out just fine”. Listen to him narrate how that turned out.</p>
<p><span>4-Process-A0</span> <span>4-Process-PS4</span></p>
<p><br />Such stories, the process of science, are often missing in scientific papers. But they are critical, especially since they show how circumstance shapes work. Listen to Satyajit Mayor’s story on his 1998 paper on how GPI-anchored proteins are organized at the cell surface; <span>4-Process-A3</span> to Mitradas Panicker on why pregnant mice shipped from Hyderabad to Bangalore were not pregnant; <span>4-Process-A4</span> and to PN Bhavsar on drawing blood from horses as a source of nucleic acid for the lab, in the late 1960s at TIFR. <span>4-Process-A1</span> There are more stories in the Gallery, on collecting seaweed off of TIFR, writing down notes on Braille paper, and KS Krishnan’s snails and brain blender.</p>
<p><span><br />One of the difficulties researchers had in working at NCBS in the early days was that they couldn’t get their animals in time. For instance, it became an uphill task in the first five years to get Xenopus, a frog species and model organism. And in his interview, Dasaradhi Palakodeti shares a story about the difficulties of transporting another model organism, planaria, when he moved from the United States to India.<span>4-Process-A2</span></span></p>
<p><br />The process of science culminates, at least in the academic world, in the written scientific article or general interest narrative. What remains largely invisible is how circumstance affects that process. Listen, for instance, to R Sowdhamini’s interview clip explaining her prolific publishing record of over 180 papers in the last 15 years. <span>4-Process-A5</span> And see Obaid Siddiqi’s two versions of a 1984 speech on 'Perception of Chemicals' at the Indian Academy of Sciences, to get a sense of his editing process for a public talk.</p>
<p><br />The process of science also depends on what stage of the career a researcher is in. In a 10-minute clip in the Gallery from a 2012 talk, Siddiqi tells his audience that he was not at a stage then where he could do complicated experiments. To him, sticking to a model organism no matter the complexity of the experiment was not a practical process. And so, he goes back to the question, and how simply and elegantly one could answer it. “Should we continue working with Drosophila?” he asks his Drosophila-leaning audience. “What is it that we can learn that we cannot by, say, working on rats? That is an interesting question.”<br /><br /></p>
<p>Cannibalism can be a problem at NCBS. Ask GH Mohan.</p>
<p><br />But first, a little about how he got to this campus. Mohan finished his bachelor’s degree in veterinary science at the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) in 1997, just before the NCBS construction wrapped up on the same campus. But he had no idea that the Centre was coming up within the campus. As far as he knew, this land where NCBS was being built was wasteland. Then, one day in 2000, he saw a posting for a veterinary trainee position at NCBS. Veterinary colleges usually focused on domestic animals, not lab animals. And Mohan wanted to get more experience.</p>
<p><br />When he actually entered NCBS for the first time in response to the job posting, the stark difference in the way it looked compared to other colleges he’d seen overwhelmed him. “The impression I got,” he said, “it was as if I was coming to a foreign university campus.”</p>
<p><br />Mohan started work at the old temporary animal hut on campus. When they had to move to a different animal house (which has happened a few times), the staff would get as anxious as the animals. Breeding animals is hard. They are sensitive to anything and do not take kindly to being disturbed. Listen to Mohan’s interview where he talks about cannibalism. <span>4-Tool-A1</span></p>
<p><br />The tools of research come in all forms across the history of science. From nucleic acid prepared out of horse blood to transgenic mice; from frogs under a knife to microtome-cut micron slices of fruit flies. Mastering the tools of science is sometimes an art in itself. Listen, for instance, to RN Singh, an early TIFR faculty member, and Kusum Singh, as they share the early TIFR experiences of a microtome in the 1970s and 1980s. They discuss the role of dexterity in cutting thin, neat slices for observation under the microscope. <span>4-Tool-A5</span></p>
<p><br />KS Krishnan is regarded as the consummate tool builder in NCBS history, easily jumping across fields to probe key questions with creative devices. He was known to be a frequent visitor of the glass blowing facility to make things like the famed ‘sushi cooker’, a double-walled glass device to control temperature and isolate mutations (the featured image shows some of the glass blowing facility’s handiwork). Conjuring devices was an innate way in which he went about research, whether it was in the lab or at home. See the video clip where his son, Anand Krishnan, narrates a story of KS Krishnan’s hatred for pigeons and the tools he rigged up to fight them off.</p>
<p><br />The slideshows contain scans of historic documents that chart the process of building a research facility, both at TIFR and at NCBS. Most of the time, it is with off the shelf equipment. But, as heard in the interview clip of Satyajit Mayor, a faculty member at NCBS, sometimes there’s just no ready tool. Listen to his process of customization. Especially, a story from the late 1990s of trying to build a rock-steady microscope lamp with a halogen lamp pried off a car. <span>4-Tool-A3</span></p>
<p><br />Mitradas Panicker, a faculty member at NCBS, shares a more recent tale of discovery of endogenous blue fluoroscence markers in induced pluripotent stem cells. The paper has taken upon another life, too. It is a potential research tool licensed by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) to identify and isolate “human pluripotent stem cells from their differentiated counterparts rapidly and efficiently without modifying the cells”. To Panicker, the discovery was an example of how observations play a critical role. “It should have been discovered in 1998,” he said, referring to the time after the first successful isolation of human embryonic stem cells. Listen to his interview where he reflects on why that might not have happened. <span>4-Tool-A2</span></p>
<p><br />In the end, tools are a means to get to an end. That end is typically the research question. It is natural for a scientist to meander and explore different paths and build devices to address a few queries. But it is the research question that guides the nature of engineering. Reflecting on his path in his interview, MK Mathew, a faculty member at NCBS, rounds up this chapter with a view on pacing one’s scientific career. <span>4-Tool-A4</span></p>
<br /><span>4-Tool-PS2</span> <br /><br />

Table Of Contents

Basic/applied toggle, Areas and Shifts, Processes, Queries and Tools

Items in the Research Collection

Sumantra Chattarji, faculty member at NCBS: The back story for his group's 2002 Journal of Neuroscience paper on looking at chronic stress patterns in the amygdala,

PN Bhavsar, scientific officer at TIFR from the 1960s till his retirement: Tales from the lab -- on drawing horse blood for scientific work, and on a ghastly sulphuric acid incident.

Dasaradhi Palakodeti, faculty member at InStem: On starting research in India on planaria, and the story behind getting planaria into India

Satyajit Mayor, faculty member and current director, NCBS: The back story to his group's field-altering 1998 Nature paper, "GPI-anchored proteins are organized in submicron domains at the cell surface",…

Mitradas Panicker, faculty member at NCBS: Tales from the process - a story of problems with pregnant animals when they were shipped from Hyderabad to Bangalore.

R Sowdhamini, faculty member at NCBS: On her prolific record of publishing and her work ethic.

Ajith Kumar, NCBS faculty member and co-ordinator of MSc programme in Wildlife Biology: An explanation of why his 1982-83 field notes from the Anamalai Hills in Tamil Nadu are on Braille paper.

MK Mathew, faculty member at NCBS: Comparing how papers are written today and in the early days, and possible reasons for the differences.

Man Mohan Johri, retired faculty member from TIFR: Picking up seaweed off the shores of TIFR for his early research in the late 1960s.

PP Ranjith, early hire as lab manager at NCBS: The scale of work in the lab kitchen, by the numbers.

Shannon Olsson, faculty member at NCBS: On the importance of publishing negative results

Jayant Udgaonkar, faculty member at NCBS: On the September 1992 sketch looking at the different areas of research for NCBS

Upinder Bhalla, faculty member at NCBS: On early computational work with Ravi Iyengar in systems neurobiology, on Iyengar's persistence in pushing Bhalla along to publish field-altering research: a bistable biochemical feedback loop that could aid in…

Satyajit Mayor, faculty member and current director, NCBS: On a projected area of research, to bridge the scales of biology through an intricate understanding of information flow in organisms.

Obaid Siddiqi, founding member of NCBS & TIFR's molecular biology unit: On his shift to neurobiology in the early 1970s.

Ajith Kumar, NCBS faculty member and co-ordinator of MSc programme in Wildlife Biology: On the origins of the MSc programme in Wildlife Biology at NCBS

Gaiti Hasan, faculty member at NCBS: On her work in the 1980s, publishing a series of single author papers in the late 1980s, and the research environment at TIFR.

Gaiti Hasan, faculty member at NCBS: On the work around behaviour and genetics at TIFR in the 1980s

Satyajit Mayor, faculty member and current director, NCBS: On cementing the relationship between cell biology and theoretical work, with a decade-plus collaboration.

Obaid Siddiqi, founding member of NCBS & TIFR's molecular biology unit: Memories of a hail storm that destroyed his research at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in the 1950s, prompting a move to Glasgow for his PhD

Obaid Siddiqi, founding member of NCBS & TIFR's molecular biology unit: The naming of NCBS groups, hierarchy within a lab and the way the names sometimes reflect the background work of the lead individual.

Sanjay Sane, faculty member and former student at NCBS: Reflecting on the various lives of a research paper, including the interest from the military on his group's research at UC Berkeley.

R Sowdhamini, faculty member at NCBS: On a delay in her hiring due to an NCBS faculty search in the mid 1990s for neuroscience researchers.

Uma Ramakrishnan, faculty member at NCBS: On the start of an MSc programme in wildlife biology and her hiring as one of the first faculty members in ecology and evolution

Aditi Bhattacharya, research scientist and former student: On her memories of the research climate when she was a graduate student in the early 2000s, and the connects between fundamental and translational research.

Villoo Patell, early post doctoral researcher at NCBS and entrepreneur: Reflections on starting a company in NCBS in the mid to late 1990s, and the research environment at the time.

Sudhir Krishna, faculty member at NCBS: Reflections on fundamental and applied research and the distinctions from one early philosophy of Obaid Siddiqi.

Taslimarif Saiyed, former NCBS student and current director, C-CAMP: On the benefits of C-CAMP in the learning trajectory of a student at NCBS.

Shannon Olsson, faculty member at NCBS: On an education where she hardly ever saw the distinction between fundamental and applied research.

H Mohan, in charge of the animal house at NCBS: Tales from the process of science - the effect of vibration and construction on lab animals.

Mitradas Panicker, faculty member at NCBS: The back story to his group's 2014 work on endogenous blue fluoroscence markers in induced pluripotent stem cells and mouse epiblast stem cells,…

Satyajit Mayor, faculty member and current director, NCBS: On his group's work with industry partners in customising and developing tools for basic research questions, which then become standard products in the field.

MK Mathew, faculty member at NCBS: On the drive that having a central question in research offers in one's scientific career.

RN Singh, early faculty member at TIFR, and Kusum Singh, his partner: Early microtome work and the technical skill behind manually cutting slices.

Deepti Trivedi, technology scientist at NCBS: On introducing CRISPR as a research tool on the NCBS campus.

KS Madhumala, post doctoral researcher at NCBS: Explaining the broader questions that drive her research and the field of olfactory behaviour.

Upinder Bhalla, faculty member at NCBS: Perspective on growing up tinkering with electronics and his life-long brush with tinkering as part of the scientific method.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1945 HB speech at TIFR inaug.pdf
Homi Bhabha presents his point of view for the new institute at the inauguration of TIFR in 1945. A section is marked out within where he discusses the view for fundamental research.

1992 Sep - STC Minutes - NCBS  Area Dwg - 6.jpg
In late 1992, the faculty got together to evaluate the future areas of research at NCBS, and build a research programme across all scales of biology. The sketch is drawn by Obaid Siddiqi, with input from all the faculty members. Areas covered at the…

2000 Apr - STC Minutes - Reliance collab - 1.jpg
Around 2000, NCBS sent its annual report to various companies, seeking support for its research programmes. Reliance Industries expressed interest in collaborating by investing in biotechnology and bio-informatics tools. These meeting minutes from…