For 30 years, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has promoted various programmes and the implementation of their results for the benefit of society
The remarkable march of India into the world of biosciences and technological advances began in 1986. That year, the then Prime Minister of the country, late Rajiv Gandhi, accepted the vision that unless India created a separate Department for Biotechnology, within the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, the country would not progress to the desired extent. That decision has made India one of the first countries to have a separate department for this stream of science and technology.
Since then the Department of Biotechnology has provided several critical impetuses as an arm of the Government of India. It has spearheaded cutting edge research, developed talent pool in Biotech, instituted regulatory capacity, forged industry as well as international partnerships, created institutional infrastructure, guided policy thinking on biotech and supported key mission.
In its glorious journey of 30 years, the department has made India one of the top biotech destinations of the world, established 14 state of the art autonomous institutions pursuing cutting edge research, boosted India to a leading vaccine manufacturing hub, supported the development of the lowest cost Rotavirus vaccine in the world and malaria, dengue and several other vaccines, supported more than 400 biotech industries and 100 young entrepreneurs for innovation, research and product development. DBT was responsible for making India one of the first countries to introduce post graduate courses in Biotechnology. It was also responsible for development of 17 products, 11 technologies16 early stage-technologies, two process innovations, and generation of 23 patents.
For 30 eventful years, the Department of Biotechnology has administered research and implementation of biosciences to search for answers to questions about life and its development, tackle some of the most challenging bioscience questions and benefit humankind. It has funded research and implementation in multifarious areas like healthcare, agricultural, environmental and industrial, development of human resources in biosciences, creation of societal impact and an innovation ecosystem and set up collaborations both with other countries as well as with other ministries to make existing knowledge more impactful and spread its benefits far and wide. A major breakthrough of 2015-2016 was the unveiling of the National Biotechnology Development Strategy- II, which was the direct result of formal and informal consultations over the past two years with over 300 stakeholders including scientists, educators, policy makers, leaders of industry and civil society, voluntary and non-government organisations, regulators and international expertsBesides this, here are some of DBT’s major achievements.
- India played a crucial role in the international partnership to decode the Wheat Genome.
- Blight resistant rice variety developed.
- Maize hybrid with High Quality Protein and Increased Provitamin A developed and released.
- Twelve popular rice varieties to be grown in the rain fed agri-eco systems developed by incorporating major quantitative trait loci (QTL) or genes for flood, drought and salt tolerance.
Bio-energy and Bio-resources
- DBT-ICT Centre for Energy Biosciences established, Cellulosic ethanol technology developed.
- 2.50 lakhs microbes were screened for anti cancer, anti diabetic, anti inflammation & anti infective activities.
DBT has supported programmes on cervical and breast cancer screening, genetic disorder and counselling, and pregnancy-related complications
- India is today a leading Vaccine Manufacturing Hub.
- Infrastructure for diagnosis & treatment of human genetic disorders significantly augmented in India.
- A major flagship programme on International Cancer Genome (ICG) specific to Oral Cancer is under implementation.
- Several technologies have been unveiled and licensed under Biodesign programme.
Human resource achievements
- Multiple initiatives undertaken for teaching & training in biotechnology & bioinformatics
- Several colleges supported under Star Colleges Programme
- Numerous people trained under UG, PG training courses.
- number of candidates provided industrial training under Biotech Industrial Training Programme
- Fellowships like Ramalingaswami Reentry Fellowship & innovative young Biotech awards (IYBA) brought back a number of Indian scientists from abroad and placed them in various research institutes & universities in India.
Under the current focus of women’s health, hygiene & nutrition the department has supported major programmes on cervical and breast cancer screening, genetic disorder & counseling, pregnancy-related and other associated complications.
Enhancement of innovation ecosystem
- Startup scenario in India transformed
- Provided access to high-end infrastructural requirement to the biotech community in India
- 300 companies and 150 young entrepreneurs supported for innovation, research and product development.
- Biotechnology Translational Research and Industry Academia partnership has promoted through three Biotech clusters, eight Biotech Parks and 13 Bioincubators.
- Twenty four products, Twenty technologies, Sixteen Early Stage- Technologies, Two Process Innovations, More than 50 IPs Generated/Facilitated.
- 21 Centers of Excellences have been created.
- Developed international partnerships with multiple countries like US, UK, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, EU, Finland, Canada, Norway and so on.
- Establised alliances with several international organisations like Wellcome Trust, Bill & Mellinda Gates Foundation, Grand challenges Canada, Mediacl Research Council, UK, NIH, Cambridge University, Research Coulcils and UK
- DBT’s first international laboratory on advanced biomedicine (DAILAB) has been established in AIST, Tsukuba, Japan and its counterpart in Region Centre for Biotechnology, India.