IUSSTF Workshop Award Announcement II Call 2013

The Indo-US Science and Technology Forum are pleased to announce that based on a joint Indian and United States review process, the following workshop proposals have been selected for financial support from IUSSTF. 

Recent Advances on Modeling Rare Events: Methods and Applications

Nisanth N. Nair, Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur & Mark E. Tuckerman, Department of Chemistry & Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University 

Development of molecular simulation algorithms to model rare events is an active field of research.  Many of the interesting processes such as chemical reactions, phase transitions, nucleation, protein folding and conformational changes in molecules are examples of rare events in computer simulations. Modeling of such processes are still challenging today and novel methods have to be designed to overcome the problems related to limited sampling. The three day Indo-US bilateral meeting on 'Recent Advances in Modeling Rare Events: Methods and Applications'  during May 29 - June 1, 2014 at the Backwater Ripples Resort, Kumarakom (Kerala) will bring experts from U.S.A. and India to discuss the latest progress in this field.  This meeting will have technical talks followed by detailed discussions involving scientists working on various domains of molecular simulation. Participants will conduct elaborate discussions following each technical sessions to exchange knowledge and to review the current advances and open problems. The meeting is expected to catalyze mutual collaborations across the two nations and motivate to undertake grand-challenging problems in chemistry, biology and material science. The symposium will be also a good arena for the young participants to interact with the experts.  

Nano-engineering in Medicine Workshop

Amit Kumar Dinda, Department of Pathology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, & Rupak Banerjee, Department of Mechanical & Materials Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH

The long-term goal of this nano-engineering in medicine workshop is to foster research and educational collaboration in the interdisciplinary field of nano-engineering and medicine. Transport of engineered nano-particles loaded with drugs or bio-molecules to the site of the disease in pathophysiologic states in humans plays a critical role in determining the efficacy of therapeutic management. There has been increased interest in experimental, computational and theoretical research in this complex field due to exciting new potential applications in treating diseases, such as cancer. While on one hand, there is significant potential in the application of nanoparticles in enhancing heat transfer for tumor ablation and targeted drug delivery, there is also much promise in improving imaging and diagnostic protocols using them. As this field progresses in both the US and India, there is a developing interest in bringing together the researchers and practitioners from both the countries. Thus, there is a need for bridging the existing gap between the research communities in India and the US by providing a forum for researchers from the two countries to present and discuss recent advances in this emerging field and to identify possible directions for common collaborative research.

Molecular Modeling and Informatics in Drug Design

Prasad V. Bharatam, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) & Alexander Tropsha, Division of Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, UNC-Chapel Hill, NC

The conference has been structured as a state of the art research based symposium discussing cutting-edge molecular modeling and research informatics technologies and their application to the science of drug discovery, development, and effectiveness of use. The scientific program will include lectures and posters, which will be presented by the Indian and US experts drawn from the industry, academia and national research laboratories. In addition, educational workshops covering major important methodologies and software tools will be given as well.

Epidemiology and prevention of cancer

T.S. Ganesan, Department of Medical Oncology and Head, Clinical Research Cancer Institute (WIA) Chennai & Ernest Hawk, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

Cancer is an important problem globally. In the USA, data suggest that cancer is one the top three causes of mortality and morbidity. In India, cancer has become an increasingly important public health issue over the past 60 years. Although the incidence of cancer is less in India than in Western nations, the overall burden is high because of the size of the population. However, some cancers are more prevalent in India compared to the West including cervical, head and neck, cholangiocarcinoma and gall bladder cancers. While epidemiological studies in both the USA and India have led to a better understanding of specific causes of cancer, more remains to be done particularly in common tumours such as breast, ovarian and gastrointestinal cancers where clear causative factors are yet to be identified. Molecular studies combined with classical epidemiological studies will be the way forward to delineate causes in some of these cancers. The genetic diversity between populations in India and those in the USA will facilitate molecular and epidemiological insights into the aetiology of various cancers, particularly for those exhibiting differences in incidence between the two countries. Additionally in large and diverse populations, such as India and the USA, it is a challenge to introduce and maintain preventive concepts at the community level. However, progress has been made in the control of breast, cervical and colorectal cancers in the USA largely through co-ordinated detection and early screening programs. Such programs in the USA may offer insights into establishing similar approaches in India. The aim of this joint workshop is to facilitate debate in: (1) classical epidemiology, (2) molecular epidemiology and (3) preventive oncology, so as to develop joint proposals for further research.

Cognitive Reserve in Dementia and Aphasia: Interaction between lifelong experiences and neurobiology

Suvarna Alladi, Department of Neurology, Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad & Mary Ganguli, University of Pittsburgh

The aim of the meeting is to initiate an international research effort in cognitive neurology by bringing together cognitive neurologists and neuroscientists from US and India, share knowledge and explore research opportunities in areas of common interest. The overarching theme will be “Cognitive reserve in dementia and aphasia: Interaction between  lifelong experiences and neurobiology”.  The theme will be addressed from two perspectives, namely, risk factors for dementia and aphasia, and the role of cognitive reserve in protecting from these disorders. Longitudinal studies in the last decade have established the role of genetic and midlife risk factors in causing cognitive impairment.  Recent research conducted mainly in the west has provided exciting new insights into protective factors for dementia by way of increasing ‘cognitive reserve’.  

Genomic insights into Human Morphogenesis: Prenatal, Postnatal and Molecular Dysmorphology needs

Ashwin Dalal, Diagnostics Division, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad & John C Carey, Healthcare-Pediatric, University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT

The relative contribution of congenital malformations to neonatal mortality and morbidity is being increasingly recognized in India following improvements in immunization programme and perinatal care.  Hence, the need for the care of malformed children and genetic counseling for such families is gaining attention. A genetic diagnosis is now increasingly being sought by parents as well as health professionals engaged in providing health care to such families. Further the recent availability of advanced molecular techniques like microarray and next generation sequencing have made it possible to identify the causative gene/mutation in a number of malformation syndromes. However we still do not have information regarding genetic etiology of a number of malformation syndromes and a lot of research interest is being diverted to this aspect too. India, with its large population base, has a large number of patients with malformations/malformation syndromes. Many cases with novel findings have been reported from India. Proper clinical delineation, genetic counseling, prenatal diagnosis and research aimed towards identification of genes will go a long way to decrease disease burden in society due to these conditions.

Forests of the Western Himalaya: Conservation and Restoration of Ecosystem Services in a time of Climate Change

Ghazala Shahabuddin, Centre for Environment, Development and Research Dehradun, Uttarakhand & Timothy Gregoire, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT

The Himalayas are among the most important eco-regions of the world, sustaining a large part of humanity through the ecosystem services that they provide through climatic and hydrological modulation, nutrient cycling and provisioning biodiversity, thus  supporting millions of agricultural and forest-dependent livelihoods. The ecosystem services hinge upon the varied and extensive forest cover across this region, that is under increasing threat of degradation from over-exploitation, infrastructure development and climate change. The workshop will focus on creating a scientific understanding of the causes of forest degradation, its conservation and restoration, with a special reference to the Western Himalayas, which are as yet under-studied. The meeting proposes to bring together scientists from different disciplines that are required to fully understand and stem the cause-and-effect linkages between human activities and the decline of forest ecosystem services. The Yale School of Forestry, with its unique hundred-year old history of tropical and temperate forest study and management, will bring strong scientific underpinnings to the study and practice of forest conservation and restoration. A special session on sustaining livelihoods will present case studies on successful merging of forest ecosystem services with economic security.  With its eminent participants from Yale and representation from leading ecological research and academic institutions in India, the meeting hopes to create a firm research agenda focusing on forest conservation and restoration in the Himalayas over the next decade. A paper for an international biological journal is expected to be published based on the findings of the workshop.