Updated on 21 November 2012
Dr Samir K Brahmachari, director general, CSIR, and secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), India
India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) celebrated 70 years of existence this year. An organization that was established in 1942 as an autonomous society and with 37 state-of-the-art institutes by Dr Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, has come a long way since its formation and is among the world's most premier research organizations.
Dr Samir K Brahmachari, director general, CSIR, and secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), while speaks to BioSpectrum about the relevance of CSIR in present-day India and the future plans of the organization.
How relevant is CSIR for the Indian bioscience industry? Are you satisfied with the progress that has been achieved by CSIR?
When CSIR began its journey 70 years ago, the focus was on chemicals, glass, minerals and steel. The first batch of CSIR labs were dedicated to chemicals. You have to accept that 50 years back biology was not considered to be a science with industrial value.
It was known more as a science of intellectual pursuit. The only biology related institute founded 60 years back was the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) Lucknow in 1951. Therefore at CSIR, it all started in 70s. It was clear that drug research has to be part of industrial value. That was echoed by Ms Indira Gandhi's statement at World Health Organization (WHO), which mentioned healthcare research as not for profit but as a matter of life and death. After the patent regime changed, the focus shifted from product to process patents. It gave major boost to institutes such as Indian Institute of chemical technologies Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, CDRI, and National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune.
These labs played a key role in creating genesis buzz. Out of 70 drugs created, 30 came from CDRI. The areas such as family planning were prioritized when they were considered taboo. You can see that it was the genesis from chemistry to biotech. Subsequently, bio related institutes got their due in the 1980s. The Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad; Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh; and Center for Biochemical Technology (CBT), which is now called the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) started in 1977.