Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginnings Program was held at IBAB

Bengaluru 19th December 2017 : B4 (Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginnings) Program was held at IBAB (Institute of BioInformatics and Applied Biotechnology) Bangalore centre in association with the Harvard University (Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute).This year the theme of the SAI-B4 program is based on Genomic Applications in Healthcare & Translational Research.

The aim of this intensive workshop is to introduce highly talented Indian students to the emerging area of genomics and enable them to explore the power and excitement of Next Generation Sequencing technologies to address clinically relevant research questions. The workshop will train the participants on both the experimental aspects of genomic sequencing & computational analysis of sequencing data through didactic research lectures and hands-on sessions. The workshop is sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.


·         Cancer Genomics and Translational Medicine

·         Infectious and Rare Disease Genomics

·         Genomics of Non-Coding RNA

·         Population Genomic

·         Nutri Geniomic

·         Epigenomics

 This program is open to:

·         Pre-doctoral, doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in Life Sciences / Biotechnology / Bioinformatics / Computer Science

·         Currently engaged in relevant areas of research Students currently enrolled in MBBS / M.Pharm programmes

·         Exceptionally talented undergraduate student

This year the applications received from universities across India in the field of Life Sciences, Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Computer Science were around 218 and the complete applications were 177. Out of which the shortlisted candidates were 25, who will be a part of a residential workshop for 2 weeks under the tutelage of a distinguished panel of professors from the Harvard and various Indian and American institutes in the field of Genomics and Medical Sciences.

Dr.Cynthia Casson Morton spoke about SeQ-a-Boo, under which she spoke about history of the process in the US to assess implement genomic sequencing in to NBS and Next gen diagnostics and newborn screening for hearing loss.

Followed by discussion with Prof Cynthia Morton and Prof Marc Lenburg,  Prof. Yathindra (Director of IBAB) and Sri Gaurav Gupta, IAS, Principal Secretary at Govt of Karnataka, IT-BT department

Dr. Cynthia Casson Morton – Director of Cytogenetics at Brigham and Women’s Hospitaland is associate with Brigham and Women’s Hospital from the last 30 years.  She is William Lambert Richardson Professor of Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Biology and Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. As Director of Cytogenetics, Dr. Morton has implemented the use of next-generation sequencing to provide nucleotide resolution of balanced chromosomal rearrangements detected in the prenatal setting.  Her laboratory has been a major site for training laboratory geneticists in clinical cytogenetics.

Also present was Marc Lenburg (Boston University) – Professor of Medicine, Section of Computational Biomedicine at Boston University School of Medicine, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Boston University, School of Medicine, Professor, Bioinformatics Program at Boston University, School of Medicine and co-Director, Microarray Core Lab, at Boston University School of Medicine.

He is a scientist with experience in computational analysis of large scale genomics data and development of bioinformatics software.  His lab is currently involved in understanding lung disease through comprehensive genome-wide gene-expression profiling (whether using microarray-based technology or now RNAseq) together with rigorous computational data analysis methods to discover unexpected distinctions between disease states that provide them not only with clues as to how disease develops, but also sensitive tools for detecting disease.

Information from a patient’s genome is increasingly useful for diagnosis and therapy as a critical part of clinical care today.

Organizations such as The Human Genome Project, ENCODE (Encyclopedia of Human Elements), the Human Epigenome Consortium have advanced our understanding of the etiology of disease and its progression. This has spurred a great deal of excitement in personalized medicine, which uses genomic and epigeneomic information to guide diagnosis and therapy. Gene panel-based diagnosis, genomic markers for disease screening and newborn screening have created avenues for therapy and early diagnosis.

Genomics and Next-generation Sequencing technologies have influenced scientific research and medicine significantly, which has made a striking impact on healthcare and translational medicine over the last decade. The capability to sequence DNA at higher speeds with precision and resolution unravels several dimensions of the complex genome and enhances the applicability of genomic information in personalized medicine.

The South Asia Initiative (SAI) continues the long tradition of collaboration between Harvard and South Asia’s nations. Learning from South Asia, and contributing to its development, has become vital given the salience of the region in contemporary times. Harvard University became the first in the nation to offer Sanskrit courses in 1872. Today, professors and students from across Harvard conduct research on scientific, strategic, social, economic, environmental, and political issues, in collaboration with colleagues in South Asia and elsewhere, in service of the community-at-large. The purpose of SAI is to be a nexus for interdisciplinary intellectual activities at the University, with the shared aspiration to build the leading center of expertise on South Asia. SAI seeks to expand knowledge of a vital region through faculty and student engagement across disciplines. We do so in an environment of compassion, tolerance, humility, and awareness, which qualifies us to become informed decision-makers and change agents.

About B4 Programs: Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginnings

The B4 Program aims to build a scientific research corridor and will engage scientists from India and Harvard through exchange programs. This program is a collaboration between the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB), Bengaluru, India and Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University,Cambridge, MA. It is funded by DBT and supported by IT/BT, GoK.


The broad scope of B4 program is to enable working together towards linking up of Institutions in the two cities & beyond to promote education & knowledge exchange in the areas of Genomics, Neurosciences, Synthetic Biology and Biologics, with the key point being ‘INVEST IN PEOPLE’ to grow the sector for societal benefits. Broadly, Bengaluru is to set up as a hub in Karnataka and likewise Boston for the state of Massachusetts to enable linking up of Institutions in the two cities & beyond.

LMSAI and IBAB are the nodal centres for these activities. 

It is proposed to implement two projects namely,

(i)         Science & Technology Fellowship (B4 Fellowship) Program in Boston

(ii)        Young Scientist Development Course in Bangalore



b. Genomics workshop (10th Dec 2017-23rd Dec 2017):

A two week hands-on immersion workshop in Bengaluru, India on ‘Genomics in Healthcare and Translational Research’ is currently being conducted for 25 pre-doctoral, doctoral and post-doctoral students. These courses, partly taught by faculty and postdoctoral fellows from institutions such as Harvard, Broad Institute from Boston region, ACTREC (Mumbai), IGIB (Delhi), CCMB (Hyderabad), IISc, NCBS from Bangalore and other leading Indian institutions.


Utilising the information from a patient’s genome for diagnosis and therapy is evolving as a critical part of clinical care today. Gene panel based diagnosis, genomic markers for disease screening and new born screening have created avenues for therapy and early diagnosis. There is an acute shortage of cutting-edge training courses that focus on both aspects of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), which are – generation of genomic data through sequencing and the analysis of sequencing data. The disease patterns specific to the Indian subcontinent and the mutant profiles of Indian patients have not been explored systematically in the case of several diseases. This underlines the need for focussed training to a large number of student researchers and clinicians to bridge the existing gap between academic and clinical research. Such a training will not only equip clinicians with newer ways of addressing health care bout also create employment opportunities for trained personnel in scientific research laboratories and hospitals.


The participants of the workshop are selected among 220+ applications received from many institutions pan India.

Next Workshop will be held on 23rd December – Saturday and the following would be the schedule :


Panel Discussion on ‘Genomics-Trends and Opportunities’

·         Chair : Arul Chinnaiyan, University of  Michigan, Ann Arbor

·         Moderator : Amit Dutt, ACTREC, Mumbai

  • Ramesh Hariharan, CEO,Strand Life Sciences, Bangalore
  • Rajgopal Srinivasan, Head-Bio-IT, Tata Innovation Labs, Hyderabad
  • Ajit Kamath, Executive Director, Mitra Biotech, Bangalore
  • Ramprasad, CEO, MedGenome India, Bangalore

·         S.G.Senthilvel, SME & Solution Architect – Healthcare & Life Sciences at IBM India Pvt. Ltd.,Bangalore

·         Representatives from DBT, GoI

Discussions on the impact of B4 program: Moderated by Prof. Venkatesh Murthy, Chair of Molecular & Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Boston

·         Participants: B4 fellows, faculty from IISc & NCBS

·         N. Yathindra, IBAB


The workshop is sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.



Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology
Biotech Park
Electronics City Phase I
Bengaluru 560 100


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