Welcome to a Biologist's Hub: Department of Life Sciences
May 28, 2018 | Smruti Sudha Biswal
National Institute of Technology, Rourkela is one of the premier institutes of the country. Though primarily a technical institute, it offers a broad spectrum of disciplines encompassing Science, Architecture, Management, and Humanities. 5 major disciplines from basic sciences i.e., Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, Physics, Mathematics have found their way home in NITR.
One of the major disciplines of Basic Sciences is Life Sciences. The life sciences comprise the branches of science that involve the scientific study of organisms – such as microorganisms, plants, and animals including human beings – as well as related considerations like bioethics. While biology remains the centerpiece of the life sciences, technological advances in molecular biology and biotechnology have led to a burgeoning of specializations and interdisciplinary fields. The inception of the Department of Life Sciences dates back to 2009. It had a humble beginning with M.Sc. and Ph.D. being the only academic programmes offered. Later in 2013, the Int. M.Sc. (5 years) programme was introduced. The Int. M.Sc. programme can be taken directly after class 12. Currently, there are 15 faculty members appointed in the Department, 67 students are currently pursuing their Ph.D.
The department was set up to become a Centre of excellence in teaching, research and extension activities of basic and applied Biology, agriculture, health care and environmental protection. It aims to foster collaboration with major institutes and industries of repute and is involved in R&D activities related to health care and Biological Sciences. It also wishes to nurture and train young minds to deal with biological problems, and to understand the underlying mechanisms of unsolved puzzles of the Biological world. NIT, Rourkela is the only institute in the country among all NITs, IITs, IISERs, IISc to offer the Life Sciences programme. The department has a team of dedicated, sincere, committed and hardworking faculty members assisted by their accomplices i.e., the students. The curriculum hosts a detailed elucidation of different sub-topics of Biology like Biochemistry, Microbiology, Cancer Biology, Plant and Animal Sciences, Bio-informatics and a wide variety of topics. The department aims to enhance the scientific communication among the students and establish state-of-art laboratory facilities. The department’s purpose is to open new floodgates of research by providing cutting-edge theoretical and practical knowledge of modern life sciences to the students. It wishes to incubate the nascent skills of the students and use them for a finer prospect of scientific development in the field of Life Sciences.
The Department of Life Sciences at NITR emphasizes in understanding the mechanisms of life processes at molecular and cellular levels. The current research works undergoing embraces a wide array of topics like cancer biology, Epigenetic, Biotechnology, Genomics etc.
The department is carrying notable research work in the field of Biological Sciences. Cancer-related research is being conducted under 3 divisions:
- " Epigenetic regulation of centrosome biogenesis and genomic instability in cancer " under Prof.Samir Kumar Patra
- “Protective autophagy by secretory clusterin associated with cell survival and chemoresistance in oral cancer " under the watchful guidance of Prof.Sujit Kumar Bhutia.
- MiRNA, SiRNA under the guidance of Prof.Bibekananda Mallick-the Bio-informatician of the Department.
- Prof.Bismita Nayak is specializing in Molecular Medicine and Immunology where she is working on drug delivery using nanoparticles.
Basic sciences are generally not job oriented stream. Students willing to take up higher studies go for basic sciences. Meanwhile the 1st batch of Int. M.Sc. has graduated in 2018. Around 4-5 of them got placed in different organizations. All others chose to pursue Ph.D. Basically students opt for higher studies rather than placements. Companies from healthcare and R&D industries of Life Sciences and Biotechnology sector visit the institute. They wish to hire young minds for various positions in their companies. Thus it is entirely the decision of the candidate whether to study further or go for a job.
The Dept. of Life Sciences is slowly growing to greater heights. The department has opened a wide range of opportunities for the present students. 6 new labs have been introduced last year. A central instrumentation lab facility has been proposed, which is believed to be functional soon. A new curriculum has been introduced this year to cover every aspect of modern life sciences and to be in par with other emerging institutes of pure sciences. If you are planning to join NITR with Biology as your forte and perplexed as to choose which branch, Life Sciences is the best stop for you.
You shall be nourished amidst a bunch of dedicated, committed, hardworking faculties integrated with the serenity, tranquility and facilities that NIT, Rourkela and its environment has to offer.