Dr Virander Chauhan, director, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi. Photo Credits: ICGEB
The New Delhi based, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), well known for its work in basic research and product development, is all set to be taken over by the Indian government. The institute that has been the part of headquarters at Trieste, was earlier funded by Italy.
Q: What all changes are happening at the ICGEB? How has the moving out of the Italian government impacted the institute?
As you are aware that back in 2012, the Italian government which provided most of the funding to the Indian component, decided to pull out possibly due to the on-going financial situation in the country. It had conveyed to ICGEB that from 2014 onwards, all the three components (Delhi, Trieste and Cape Town) could be funded by the host governments exclusively.
That surely made the things bit complex for us. However, the ICGEB has time again shown its capability to adapt to circumstances. As you know that department of biotechnology (DBT) under government of India will take over the control of ICGEB but I am sure the flexibility definitely shall be retained. At the moment, transition formalities are being worked out. It is going in the absolutely right direction and I think there will be no impact on the functioning. We are infact encouraged by the support from the DBT. The present secretary himself is trying his best to ensure the flexibility and international status.
Q: Has there been any increase in the funding for the institute in recent years?
We had not any increase in the last few years as we were considered as an international institute. Italian government pulled out but India component has still managed well. However, with a proper funding inflow, we could have expanded and hired quality people leading to more technologies and patents. While India's contribution in ICGEB currently has been around Rs 10 crore, it might increase significantly when DBT takes over. Infact it was the DBT support that helped us to start the biofuel programme. Although a researcher will never talk about only funding as being the only criteria for his efforts, this is the time to put ICGEB to the next level.