Bioinformatics is attaining greater significance in the life sciences research and industry and hitherto unexplored areas of biology. Research in biotechnology, which is highly knowledge and capital intensive, has generated a deluge of information in this decade. To make use of this information effectively, there is a need for high speed and large bandwidth network. Towards this end, the Department of Biotechnology has successfully established a high-speed and high-bandwidth network in the form of Virtual Public Network (VPN) named as BIOGRID INDIA. Eleven nodes have been established in the first phase, which are actively pursuing bioinformatics activities such as human resource development and R&D in bioinformatics besides, dissemination of biotechnology information to researchers in the country. This resource sharing helps in enhancing the value and usefulness of the BTIS, the only true resource sharing network in India.
BTISnet in a Nutshell
BTISnet a potential scientific network in the country comprises of more than 165 institutions having capable human resources and state of art infrastructure to carry out intensive research in bioinformatics and computational biology. More than 100 subject specific databases are currently available on the BTISnet.
Centres of BTISnet are networked and now some of them are being networked through National Knowledge Commission network. Eight new centres have been added to the BTISnet. NEBInet which comprises of 27 bioinformatics centres in North East states has opened up great opportunities in biotechnology for the North East Region of the country. Through this network it is now much simpler to generate and implement programs like biotech hubs, overseas associateship etc. Three major consortium projects on bioinformatics in TB, rice and mango have shown excellent progress during the last year.
Centres of Excellence
Six Centres of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology have been established as part of BTISnet. These Centres are well equipped with state of art infrastructure to support research. Each centre is responsible for developing a database in the identified thrust areas. Some of these efforts have received international recognition. The CoE at the Bose Institute, Kolkata is specialising in the areas like genome analysis, regulatory RNA stem cells, genomics and structural bioinformatics. The CoE at JNU, New Delhi is a part of the School of Computational and Integrative Sciences, with a major objective of development of human resource through teaching and research in the frontier area of computational biology, bioinformatics and systems biology. The CoE at Madurai KamarajUniversity, Madurai is specialising in the areas like structural bioinformatics, proteomics, data mining and computer aided drug design. The Centre at the University of Pune, conducts M.Sc. course in bioinformatics. The Centre has developed 3 major databases namely viral protein structural database, antigen antibody genomics and viral genome resources.
The bioinformatics centres are being extensively used for intensive research by the hosts and neighbouring institutions. In addition scientists at bioinformatics centres have carried out research in gene analysis, protein structure prediction and engineering, modelling, macromolecular assembly, evolutionary biology, developing tools for peptide vaccine, new tools for data mining etc.
The Department of Biotechnology is also supporting long-term teaching programs on bioinformatics and BIOGRID will be useful in sharing teaching materials, to deliver lectures through video conferencing-virtual classrooms besides synergizing research in biotechnology and bioinformatics. The mirror sites of internationally recognized genomic databases such as Protein Data Bank (PDB), Plant Genome Data Banks, Databases of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and public domain bioinformatics software packages are also available on the BIOGRID. The advantage of mirroring these databases in India is to provide unhindered mining of high quality data from well established primary and secondary information sources. The BTISnetwork will act as a knowledge pathway for discoveries in biotechnology and bioinformatics.