Biomed Analysis: Indian scientists must stand for health

Should science be political? Government funding policies for science and health often appear to be at the whim of the ruling political party.

But scientists worldwide are often reluctant to engage with the politicians who wield such influence on their work, fearing they will be suspected of ulterior motives.

In developing nations scientists are notoriously timid about engaging with politicians, especially when it comes to lobbying for funding.

But when health is badly neglected, as it is in India, researchers and doctors need to take a much stronger political stand.

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Collected works of Rabindranath Tagore is now going to be readable in Bengali

Rabindra Rachanabali is now going to be readable in Bengali, the original language version, on the internet. Honorable Chief minister of West Bengal Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, accompanied by IT minister Debesh Das, launches www.rabindra-rachanabali.nltr.org, a website containing the complete works of Rabindranath Tagore. The Society for Natural Language Technology Research has developed the website with help from IIT, Kharagpur. The site includes “Swaralipi”, a system for scripting musical notes and automatic generation of music using the notes.

Call for Research proposals on Biotech Product and Process Development

Department of Biotechnology aims to promote commercialization of biotech products and processes relevant for national self reliance by supporting appropriate basic and applied research in institutes and by facilitating strategic partnership with institutes and industries.

Appropriate formats, terms and conditions etc. may be obtained from the DBT websites: http://www.dbtindia.nic.in or htttp://www.dbtindia.org.

For more details click here

Glaxo to share malaria drug data

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will release 13,500 malaria drug candidates into the public domain as part of its ‘open innovation’ agenda, it announced on 20 January 2010.

Chief executive Andrew Witty outlined the company’s strategy for increasing its intellectual property flexibility and altering its business model to tackle neglected tropical diseases.

“We’re trying to identify a more pluralistic approach to how we might solve very difficult problems,” he said.

“We need to be much more … open minded and be prepared to try new things,” Witty told a meeting at the New York Academy of Sciences, United States.

Under the plans any researcher or company will have access to the chemical structures of and associated data about more than 13,500 compounds shown to have activity against Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous malaria parasite. They would be free to use this information provided they were working towards tackling malaria in least developed countries.

Five GSK scientists screened their two-million-compound library by hand to find the shortlist.

The company will also create an ‘open lab’ at its neglected diseases research and development (R&D) facility in Spain. There, up to 60 researchers will be able to use GSK infrastructure and expertise to carry out their own neglected disease research projects, with the company providing a total of US$8 million in seed funding.

Ian Boulton of TropMed Pharma Consulting, which works with the pharmaceutical industry on expanding neglected diseases R&D, described the open lab initiative as “groundbreaking” and hoped other companies active in the malaria field, such as Novartis and Sanofi Aventis, would follow suit.

But he said: “Drug discovery is a long process and both the organisations involved and GSK need to have worked out how the projects can be carried forward once their time in the ‘open lab’ is over”.

“The malaria community needs to develop a system to use this data in an intelligent manner. It would be a shame if there was no coordination or information sharing on who will be working on what classes of compounds,” he added.

Mohga Kamal-Yanni, a senior health policy adviser at Oxfam, said: “This action is going beyond their own R&D decisions to encourage others. They have gone further than opening libraries, by actually doing the screening themselves.”

Witty said that GSK is committed to continuing malaria R&D. “We have five or six malaria compounds in clinical or preclinical testing.”

Last year GSK announced it would allow royalty-free access to its patents and knowhow on drugs for neglected diseases (see Glaxo patent rethink sparks debate), as well as ploughing 20 per cent of profits made in least developed countries back into their health systems and cutting drug prices.

However, no other drug company joined the patent pool.

Source: SciDev.Net

Springer Offers Free Access To Papers By This Year’s Nobel Prize Laureates on SpringerLink

Springer is offering all journal articles and book chapters written by this year’s Nobel Prize laureates free of charge on its online information platform www.springerlink.com. The articles and chapters will be available to print out or download from now until 31 December 2009.

For more details http://www.springer.com/authors/author+zone?SGWID=0-168002-12-645899-0

RELEASE OF ADDITIONAL INSTALMENT OF DEARNESS ALLOWANCE TO CENTRAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES AND DEARNESS RELIEF TO PENSIONERS, DUE FROM 1.7.2009

The Cabinet has decided to release an additional instalment of Dearness Allowance (DA) to Central government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners w.e.f. 1.7.2009 representing an increase of 5% over the existing rate of 22% of the Basic Pay/Pension, to compensate for price rise. The increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission. The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both dearness allowance and dearness relief would be of the order of Rs.4355.35 crore in a full year and Rs.2903.55 crore in the financial year 2009-2010 (for a period of 8 months from July, 2009 to February, 2010).

Source: PIB Press Release

Govt orders for payment of Second Instalment of 6CPC arrears

The long awaited orders for payment of Second Installment of 6CPC Arrears has been issued by Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance in the Office memorandum F.No: 1/1/2008-IC dated 25.08.09.

It is stated in the said office memorandum that the 60% arrears may now be paid to Government Servants.

It is also stated that in the case of employees who joined in the Govt service after 01.01.2004, the second installment of arrears may be released only after individual application forms for registration to the New Pension Scheme have been obtained by the DDO/PAO from the concerned employee.

Download Office Memorandum F.No: 1/1/2008-IC dated 25.08.09 for 6CPC arrears to employees presently in service