HYDERABAD: It was a day of direct interaction with science for the 150-odd students from the Sangamitra high school, Nizampet, when they visited the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) at the University of Hyderabad. The students were at the institute to learn about research and development in the field of pharma and biotech sectors, on the occasion of the institute’s fifth anniversary.
“I am amazed by the commonly seen zebra fish and the fact that their DNA almost matches humans,” said Chanakya Kumar, a student, talking about the zebra fish which was used as an animal model like rats, rabbits and guinea pigs.
“Getting to see the functioning of a very expensive equipment like the centrifuge and chromatography machines and also the fluorescence microscope in laboratories of international standards was a great experience,” said Feroz Ahmed, another student.
The children also saw a film on malaria, and witnessed a few tests which are conducted to check the safety and effectiveness of drugs at the research level.
Dr Kiranam Chatti, a senior scientist at the institute said that their institute was one of its kind in the country to use Zebra fishes as an animal model to study the effectiveness of drugs on humans, though the practice is quite common in the west.
“Frequent interactions with school students will give a boost to those who are really interested in Science, especially now when more students are moving towards Engineering and IT,” he pointed out.
As part of reaching out to the public and to create awareness, the institute is starting a fellowship program for people interested in the subject to write about the recent developments in the field in the local language so that it could be taken to the rural people.
“We are planning a popular science magazine in Telugu to create awareness about diseases and developments in the field of medicine,” said Prof Javed Iqbal, director, ILS. Also, the institute is planning future summer camps for school and college students interested in science apart from regular projects. ‘The institute was set up on the lines of ISB in terms of converting innovation into commercial viability, to bridge the gap between scientific research at the academic and the industry level. Research in fundamental areas of biology and chemistry here aims at finding solutions to diseases like diabetes, cancer, tuberculosis, inflammatory and infectious diseases etc.,” said Prof Iqbal adding that they had the responsibility of making science popular among students and rural masses.
With around 35 doctoral scholars and faculty from academic and industry backgrounds, the institute also has four companies within its incubation program.