Sunday, January 27, 2013

Second Ramalingaswamy Conclave - In god's own country

I am currently sitting at the Thiruvananthapuram airport (being dropped by the hotel carpool system much earlier than the flight departure), have really got no other option other than writing something that is very recent. Sorry folks, this is not science, but soon we will separate this musing section from science in case you are just looking for science in this blog site. Just hang on till then...

Well, it goes this way: we all Ramalingaswamy fellows landed here in the early hours of 20th Jan 2013 in Thiruvananthapuram airport, got picked up to a transit. Sat on the lobby of this nice hotel for a couple of hours and then bundled up together to a nice scenic place called Kollam that has one of the nicest hotels - The Raviz. I can't rave enough about this hotel. The moment we checked in, tall saree clad young girls put tilak on our foreheads and handed over some delicious herbal drink. Then they led us to our rooms. The rooms were panoramic. Then we assembled at a place where lunch was arranged and the welcome ceremony began. I could not contain my happiness when I was told that our contingency amount was raised to 10 lakhs for the first year. I had this concern about hiring people from my contingency. In any case, that was the best news ever for me! People were amazingly friendly, food was super delicious. The meeting was very well organized by Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology. I must congratulate Dr. Meenakshi Munshi for doing such a wonderful job in taking care of all the administrative issues in a timely manner. She had the toughest jobs of interfacing between the govt. and the fellows and yet defending both parties when the opposite party questions certain things. I applaud her. So, also the entire mentor team including several amazing scientists such as Dr. Kanury Rao (ICGEB), Dr. Shubha Tole(TIFR), Dr. Usha Vijayaraghavan (IISc.), just to name a few. This led me to think that I have indeed taken the right decision to come back to India.

The presentations began from 21st onwards. It was truely inspiring to see all the scientists in their third years on the fellowship publishing 4-5 papers most of them in good impact factor journals about an average of 5 impact points. Few of the scientists were really amazing that have brought about paradigm shift in scientific belief systems working here in India. I personally benefited lot since I met with a person who is good at metabolic engineering and another person who has the neem genome assembly and another collaborator with whom I plan to work in near future.Overall, even if I spent 10 days away from my lab, I feel the time spent was really good.

On 25th I met Doctors, researchers, pharma company heads and my collaborator Dr. Susanta RoyChoudhury in Mumbai hospital about marker development and commercialization. It was truly an uplifting experience.

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