A RESEARCH HOTSPOT IN THE MAKING
Jul 27, 2015 | Jisha Bhattacharjee
The Department of Life Science of NIT Rourkela became functional in 2009 and since then, has been expanding in terms of strength of students, quality of faculty and fields of research.
The research work being carried out by the students and staff of the department can be divided into six major sections, namely, biochemistry molecular biology, cell and developmental biology, microbiology and ecology, humanology and molecular medicine, bio-informatics and bio-physical sciences.
Cancer research is being conducted in three areas- epigenetics under Prof. Samir Kumar Patra, auto-phagy by Prof Sujit K. Bhutia (H.O.D. of the department) and a miRNA, siRNA and RNA interference related projects currently headed by Prof. Samir Kumar Patra and Bibekanand Mallick, the bio-informatician of the department. Binod Bihari Sahu who joined last year is working on plant science research while Bismita Nayak, specialising in molecular medicine and immunology is doing excellent work in drug delivery utilising nano particles.
Studies are also being done on bacterial forms in marine resources and probiotic bacteria mediated food stuff that aims to improve overall health. The research being undertaken by the department is getting recognition in international spheres. Prof. Patra was invited to Dusseldorf, Germany in March this year by the Clinical Epigenetics Association (CLEPSO-2015) to present the department's research on cancer development and cell signalling. The department is also involved in a DST (Department of science and Technology) project in association with CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) and ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research).
To facilitate more and better research, the department has recruited new faculty last year including Prof Salim and Dr Biswal. The research work is well supported by the Director, Dr Sunil Kumar Sarangi. Prof. S. K. Patra mentioned that "the department is the brainchild of Dr Sarangi".
No major changes have been introduced in the curriculum this year. The department is in need of some high-end instruments for laboratory purposes such as an ultra centrifuge, a FACS (Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorter) machine and a high quality mass spectrophotometer to analyse corelative microscopy and fluorescence. The institute has only one con focal microscope which is in the Department of Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering and thus, the Department of Life Science has limited access to it.
The provision of these instruments is expected to boost the quality of publications and revolutionise the research on the nature of cancer cells. Also, as the number of students and faculty is increasing, the department needs more space and bigger laboratories for integrated M.Sc and Biology students.
There are plans to establish a specialised instrumentation facility centre and Prof. Sujit Sen from the Department of Chemical Engineering is assisting in this regard. This is expected to facilitate better research and provide greater opportunities to the research scholars.