Genomics, proteomics research helps accurate diagnosis

Bhubaneswar: Breakthrough in genomics and proteomics research has created an opportunity to change the way medicine is practiced now leading to early accurate diagnosis and optimal management of diseases, renowned molecular biologist Prof Lalji Singh said today.

“In future, medicine will move from curative to predictive and preventive medicine,” Prof Singh said while delivering the 2nd Convocation address at the Siksha Anusandhan University here.

The genomic and proteomic data permit design of tests for early accurate diagnosis and thus help physicians in optimal management of diseases, Singh, presently vice-chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), said.

In addition, information on susceptibility, predisposition and predictable drug response would ultimately lead to personalised medicine, he said adding the long term goal was to develop treatment approaches based on the science of regenerative medicine and nano medicine leading to an improved quality of life.

Singh said the emerging technologies of DNA chip, proteomics, comparative genomics, structural biology, bioinformatics and gene knockout would help in determining the function of most genes and understanding their interaction with environment factors and relationship with human behavior.

Stating that India has one of the largest human biodiversity in the world with 4696 anthropologically well-defined endogamous groups, he said availability of such unique and large number of clinical samples in the country`s hinterland was a huge asset which must be capitalized.

Quality research, he said, was pre-requisite for quality science and quality teaching. The institutions of higher education had to lay emphasis on research by providing the facilities, infrastructure and encouragement.

Describing the 21st century as the knowledge century, he said knowledge had acquired the greatest significance and the country which was leader in terms of knowledge would lead the world.

Pointing out that India was lagging behind the world average in terms of gross enrolment ratio, Prof Singh said there was need to reduce the elitist orientation of higher education which had to be made available to everyone.

University-industry linkages have to be strengthened and there has to be a symbiotic relationship between the two. In the US, most of the bio-technology companies trace their origins to the university laboratories, he said adding the partnership between universities and industries would help transform India into a technological super power.

Pointing out that the current expenditure in higher education in India was less than one per cent of GDP, he underlined the need to increase state funding while diversifying the modes of financing higher education.

The eminent scientist commented that expansion of higher education had brought with it deterioration in the quality of education which was the result of compromises made at various levels, absence of proper planning, inadequate facilities and no clarity of purpose.

The quality of output of higher education depends upon the quality of educational infrastructure, instructional design, quality of curriculum, quality of teachers and their motivation, he said adding the curricula should be flexible and adaptive to the needs of society, industry, market as well as the goals of higher education.

A former Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, Prof Singh had led a research team in developing a probe called Bkm-derived probe for DNA fingerprinting which is being used for forensic investigation, paternity determination and seed stock verification.

He pioneered the establishment of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in Hyderabad.

Chancellor of the University, Prof Khageswar Pradhan presided over the ceremony where Honoris Causa was presented to Prof Damodar Acharya, Director of IIT, Kharagpur. The honorary degree was also presented to Dr Subrat Kumar Acharya, Head of Department of Gastroenterology at AIIMS, New Delhi in absentia.