DBT’s North Eastern States Biotechnology Programs

DBT’s North Eastern States Biotechnology Programs
The North East Region (NER) of India is a treasure house of exceptional natural beauty,
floral and faunal biodiversity and abundant mineral, water and forests resources. In addition,
it is well endowed with ideal climatic conditions for agriculture, plantations and sericulture.
The tropical climate of the region with high rainfall and plenty of sunlight coupled with
unique bio-geographical positioning of this region is responsible for rich biodiversity in terms
of floral and faunal elements. Although it occupies only about 8% of the total geographical
area of the Indian subcontinent, the region harbors about 50% of the floristic wealth of the
country. Moreover, the forest cover in the region constitutes 52% of the geographical area.
Hence, it has been identified as one of the world‟s biodiversity hotspots. Because of its
comparative advantage in terms of sustainability and diversity, the rich genetic resources
spread across diverse ecosystems and nurtured by indigenous communities, provide ample
opportunities for furthering economic development of the region.
Agriculture contributes to approximately 30% of the Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) and
approximately 75% of the region‟s population depends on the same for employment. Hence,
agriculture and allied sectors were kept as priority areas for biotechnology based
development in the region in view of region‟s very high dependence on agriculture and allied
In view of the above, NER offers unique potential for biotechnology based interventions for
overall development of the region.
The Department of Biotechnology has earmarked 10% of its total budget amounting to
148.50 crores for the year 2013-14 to promote biotechnology activities in the North Eastern
Region of India.
In the year 2009-10, DBT had set up a North Eastern Region-Biotechnology Programme
Management Cell (NER-BPMC) through Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) for
coordination and monitoring of biotechnology programmes in the North Eastern States of
India as part of DBT‟s commitment towards the promotion of biotechnology activities in the
North Eastern Region. A separate building has been hired and furnished for setting up of
NER-BPMC. The NER-BPMC is now functional with the appointment of consultants and
project managers. The NER-BPMC is working in close cooperation with various Government
Ministries/ Department/Agencies at the Central and State level along with universities and
research institutions for development and implementation of various programmes.
NER-BPMC has initiated a number of activities towards biotech based development of the
NER in the following four thrust areas; under following categories:
Integrated Technology/Product Development
Training and Capacity Building
Infrastructure Development
Human Resource Development
Setting up of Centres of Excellence
The details of the activities are as follows:
The following projects aimed towards Integrated Technology/Product Development have
been initiated/ implemented :
1. Twinning Programme.
2. Biotechnology Led Organic Farming in the NER.
3. Biotech Interventions on Selected Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (MAP) of NER for
their effective utilization.
4. Impact assessment of Jhumming on native plants and soil microbiota and
restoration of sustainable Jhum agro-ecosystem in Northeast India.
5. A value chain on Jackfruit and its value added products.
6. Augmenting clean pork production and value addition in North Eastern India.
7. Value chain development in Citrus for North East India.
8. Qualitative development of vermicompost technology through isolation of novel
Twinning Programme
The Twinning R&D program for NER was initiated in the year 2010-2011 towards
developing core competence and core capacity in different areas of biotechnology viz.
Health Science, Agricultural Science, Veterinary Science, Pharmaceutical Science,
Biomedical Engineering, Bioinformatics, Food and Nutrition, health care including
Alternative medicine, Nanotechnology and Environmental Biotechnology, through
joint venture, between two or more institutes, where one of the institute is from North
East India. This collaboration is expected to play a crucial role in upgrading the skills
of R&D activities of scientists working in NER. So far 275 proposals have been
supported during last three years.
 Animal and Aquaculture Biotechnology : 36 proposals
 Agriculture Biotechnology in Allied Areas: 47 proposals
 Medical Biotechnology and Allied Areas: 81 proposals
 Medicinal Aromatic Plants: 57 proposals
 Environmental Biotechnology: 27 proposals
Biotechnology Lead Organic Farming in the NER
A new project tilted „Biotechnology led organic farming in the NER‟ focusing large
scale demonstrations of use of bioinputs for organic farming of key high value crops
(HVCs) of NER has been launched in September, 2010 for a period 3 years. Three
institutions, namely: ICAR-RC, Umiam, Meghalaya, 14 KVKs of NE zone of ICAR
and IBSD, Manipur of DBT are major implementing partners of the project. Project
activities like training of trainers, training of farmers and field demonstrations on
identified crops established under the project. Brief project achievements are:
 1400+ farmers trained on organic farming technology using bio inputs (biopesticides,
biofertilizers, botanicals) for 9 horticultural crops.
 Field demos. with organic package in 174 hectares already established and results
from completed field demos. are encouraging.
Biodiversity Conservation & Utilization
DBT has initiated a research network titled “Biotech Intervention on Selected
Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (MAP) of NER for their effective utilization” on four
medicinal & aromatic plants (MAP) in October, 2011 involving three partner
institutions (a) AAU, Jorhat (Agric.) (b) AAU, Khanapara (Veterinary Campus and (c)
NEIST, Jorhat (CSIR Institute) with the following objectives:
 Taxonomical studies of four MAP Species (Acorus calamus, Clerodendrum
indicum, Homalomaena aromatica, Piper Longum).
 Isolation of bioactive phytochemical ingredients of medicinal value.
 Evaluation of pharmacological activity of bioactive plant extracts /fractions.
 Assessment of isolated drugs for possible adverse effects on metabolic system.
 Development of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), large scale production of
planting material & PHT.
Brief project achievements are:
1. Affected and standard treated groups showed better ulcer score and index as
compared to the control groups in various models for antiulcer activity.
2. Among both the extracts (NST-GB-CL-I and HARZ-D) , NST-GB-CL-I
consistently showed better anti-ulcer activity in all the ulcer models. Quantitative
estimation showed higher flavonoid & phenolic content in NST-GB-CL-I than
HARZ-D which might be responsible for better anti ulcer activity in NST-GBCL-I
3. In vivo antioxidant study in ulcerated tissues of stomach and liver tissues
demonstrated elevated levels of various non- enzymatic profiles in plant extract
treated groups. NST-GB-CL-I, possesses better anti-oxidant properties than
4. Various enzymatic activities of serum showed decrease level of SGOT, SGPT and
alkaline phosphatase in extract treated as well as standard treated groups. NSTGB-CL-I, showed better activity than HARZ-D.
5. In anti-microbial activity, NST-GB-CL-II (50:50 hydro-ethanol) extract shows
good activity as compared to other extracts.
6. For future study, bioassay guided fractionation of NST-GB-CL-I will be taken up.
H. aromatica(100mg/kg
C. Indicum (100 mg/kg)
C. Indicum (200 mg/kg)
H. aromatica(200mg/kg
Environmental Biotechnology:
NERBPMC has constituted a network programme titled “Impact assessment of
Jhumming on native plants and soil microbiota and restoration of sustainable Jhum
agro-ecosystem in Northeast India” with implementing partners are NEHU,
Shillong; CAU, Umiam; Mizoram University, Mizoram; Nagaland University,
Medziphema, Nagaland; RARS, Diphu, Assam; Dept. of Biotechnology, AAU,
ICAR-RC, Tripura & IBSD, Imphal. The project activities have been initiated at
respective institutes.
Secondary Agriculture
A concept note to promote secondary agriculture in NER was developed and in
consideration of the same a proposal was developed by ICAR-RC Nagaland
Centre, NRC – Citrus & IIT Kharagpur titled, “Value chain development in Citrus
for North East India” with an objective of development of mass multiplication
techniques in citrus (Khasi mandarin and sweet orange), standardization of
protocols for de-bittering of citrus juice, processes and value added product
development and was submitted for funding to NER-BPMC. The project activities
have been initiated at respective institutes.
Another project under Secondary Agriculture titled “Augmenting clean pork
production and value addition in North Eastern India” by National Research Centre
for Pig, ICAR, Guwahati, Assam. The project is designed to develop shelf stable
pork products, namely pork nuggets and bites (emulsion based and restructuring
based), pork sausages, pork patties, pork kebabs, pork samosa, pork momo, pork
slices and enrobed pork products and to refine & standardize the technologies for
producing a wide range of value added pork products to provide variety to the pork
6. A project in twinning Format titled “A value chain on Jackfruit and its value added
products” has been recently launched with partners involving UAS, GKVK,
Bangalore; CAU- College of Home Science, Tura, Meghalaya; AAU, JorhatDeptt. of Horticulture, AAU, Jorhat; KVKs and NGOs namely, GRAMA (NGO),
Bharanganam Post, Pal, Kottayam District, Kerala; Parivarthan sarkarayapattana,
Karnataka (Women SHG); Kadamba Marketing Soc. Sirsi, Karnataka; KVK,
Birachandramana, Tripura (Under ICAR-RC, Tripura Centre); and KVK, Kamrup,
Assam, (Under AAU, Jorhat). The objectives of the project are to enhance
production capacity; Validation and commercialization of technologies.
The project activities have been initiated at respective institutes.
The following key initiatives were taken towards building capacities of the
institutions in NER by supporting infrastructure facilities, high speed internet
bandwidth, high end IT equipment, access to high impact e-journals, etc.
1. Establishment of a comprehensive facility for diagnosis and management of
genetic disorders, RMRC, Dibrugarh.
2. Development/upgradation of infrastructure in Medical colleges in North Eastern
States of India.
3. Short term training on recent technique in infectious disease diagnosis for midcareer scientist of NER.
4. Research methodology workshop for North East.
5. Establishment of Biotech Hubs.
6. North Eastern Bioinformatics Network (NEBINet).
7. DBT‟s e-Library Consortia (NER-DeLCON).
8. Online human resource repository of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics resources
of North East India (BABRONE).
9. Ferment Base: A database on the fermented food of North Eastern Region of India
10. Development of Digital Database of Bioresources of NE India.
1. Establishment of a comprehensive facility for diagnosis and management of
genetic disorders, RMRC Dibrugarh.
This diagnostic facility is envisaged to bring a revolution in the field of health care
services in the NER by providing state-of-the-art medical services at reasonable cost
to the needy in the region, which will cover genetic disease due to chromosomal
aberration, single gene mutation, hemoglobinopathy and prenatal screening under 5
research units being set up will objectives as under:
1. To establish a unit for enhanced diagnosis of chromosomal anomalies such as Down‟s
syndrome prenatally by amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling and using either
Karyotyping or by Fluorescence in Situ hybridization (FISH) techniques.
2. To study the numerical and structural abnormalities of chromosomes such as Down‟s
Syndrome, Klinefelter‟s Syndrome, Turner‟s Syndrome, Patau‟s Syndrome, Edwards
Syndrome using Karyotyping techniques and FISH techniques.
3. To study chromosomal anomalies associated with leukemia.
1. To study common single gene disorders e.g., Hemoglobinopathies, Duchenne Muscular
Dystrophy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Fragile X syndrome, Hemophilia etc.
2. To provide carrier screening to extended family of the children affected with
hemoglobinopathies and muscular dystrophies.
3. To diagnose single gene disorders such as β thalasaemia, sickle cell anaemia, prenatally.
1. Antenatal Screening for Down‟s Syndrome in first and second trimester of pregnancy by
estimation of Alpha Feto protein (AFP), Estriol, and β HCG in maternal serum.
2. To start newborn screening program for Glucose 6Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency
(G6PD deficiency).
1. Establishment of counseling services for genetic diseases.
2. Establishment of teaching programme in medical genetics.
3. Regular CME for doctors of government and non-government health care services
4. Community awareness programme.
1. Establishment of a DNA bank for future research and references.
2. Development/upgradation of infrastructure in Medical colleges in North Eastern
States of India
The DBT program on Development/Up-gradation of Infrastructure in Medical
Colleges in the NER was started in the year 2009. The program is now operational in
12 medical colleges/ institutions in four states of the Region, namely Assam,
Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur. Laboratories of 21 Principal Investigators have been
renovated/upgraded for carrying out quality research on various health problems
prevalent in the region using modern biotechnology tools and technologies. Various
scientific equipments including 27 high cost equipments such as flow cytometer,
Real-Time PCR machine, Hi-speed centrifuges, -80 freezers etc. have been procured
and are being installed. Several of these laboratories are now ready for commissioning
for Phase II of this programme. Fresh proposals are being processed.
Business & Review Meeting of infrastructure in Medical colleges, 18-19 June, 2012
3. Short term training on advanced techniques in infectious disease diagnosis for
mid-career scientist of NER
The short-term training programme is designed for the North-East scientists with
objectors as under:
To impart theoretical knowledge of recent advances in epidemiology and diagnosis of
infectious diseases at global and regional level.
To impart hands-on practical knowledge of molecular methods for the diagnosis of
various infectious diseases prevalent in Indian and specially NER.
To provide them an opportunity to handle the sophisticated instruments and to have
hands-on experience of performing various molecular test.
To make assessment of learning process through written test after training.
The course will have theory class followed by practical demonstration or hands on
practical training each day.
4. Research methodology workshop in Biomedicine for North East
These workshops are meant for P.G. Students (MD/MS) and thesis guides, and will
involve one to one interaction between the resource person(s) and the participants in
addition to lecture presentations. Based on the number of MD/MS Thesis grants
awarded, the following three sites have been identified for this activity: Gauhati
Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Guwahati (Assam); Regional Institute of
Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal (Manipur); and Agartala Govt. Medical College
(AGMC), Agartala (Tripura).
The objectives of Research Methodologies are:
To organize workshops on Research Methodology and Clinical Epidemiology in NER
for P.G. students awarded fellowship under DBT-scheme and their guides.
To impart knowledge of research methodology and research implementation among
the researchers and mentors attending the workshop.
To encourage development of new research concepts and protocols.
5. Establishment of Biotech Hubs for the North Eastern States
A Biotech Hub Scheme was initiated during the year 2010-11with the broad purpose
of promotion of education and research in Biology/Life Science/Biotechnology.
Institutes/colleges/Universities of higher education of the North Eastern Region of
India offering undergraduate and/or postgraduate courses in any branch of
Biology/Life Science/Biotechnology/Environmental Science/Chemistry /Physics/
Computer Science /Biomedical Sciences/ Agri/ Veterinary Sciences for 3 years are
supported to establish/upgrade a basic biotechnology lab, develop a bioinformatics
center, avail biotechnology e-journal, support for organizing training for teachers etc.
During the year 2010-11, 6 State Level and 34 Institutional Level Biotech Hubs were
established academic and research institutions in the North Eastern Region.
Biotech Hub Co-ordinator Meeting held in Gangtok, Sikkim on 19-20 April, 2012
These facilities will impart research insight among the budding science students at
their formative stage of science education (UG/PG level) and research career (PhD
level). So far 92 colleges/universities/institutes have been sanctioned institutional
level biotech hubs.
The Biotech Hub Scheme
A biotechnology lab with a basic set of equipment.
A bioinformatics centre with at least 5 computers and internet connectivity
Access to e-journals in biotechnology
Recurring budget for chemicals, glassware and internet connectivity
Support for training and workshops for teachers
Travel support for conferences and training in India.
Student fellowship etc.
6. North Eastern Bioinformatics Network (NEBINet)
Twenty five bioinformatics centers established in all the 8 states of the NER were
networked as the North Eastern Bioinformatics Network (NEBINet). The North East
Hill University, Shillong was designated as the nodal center for NEBINet. These
Bioinformatics centres are provided with latest IT equipment to support the research
activities of the host institutions in NER.
7. DBT’s e-Library Consortia (NER-DeLCON)
DBT‟s e-Library Consortia for North Eastern Region (NER-DeLCON) was
established in the year 2010 through which access to 900 High Impact e-journals were
subscribed by DBT and the facility was offered to 15 selected NER institutions.
During last year, 3 new institutions were included from NER in the consortia. An
assessment indicated that scientists, faculty and students of these 18 institutions were
using the subscribed e-journals extensively and also encouraging institutions in the
neighborhood to utilize this service. A separate website www.delcon.gov.in has been
developed for DeLCON.
DBT has established a project on “Creation of an online human resource repository of
Biotechnology and Bioinformatics resources of North East India (BABRONE)”. This
online repository will be first of its kind that will provide comprehensive information
regarding biotechnology and bioinformatics resources of NE India preferably via
open-source software. An online freely accessible e-learning server is proposed to be
developed, which will serve a common platform for uploading of learning materials in
addition to sharing of information news and as online discussion forum.
9. Ferment Base
A database on the fermented food of North Eastern Region of India with an objective
of extensive surveys and collection and digitization of the method of preparation of
the different fermented foods of North East India has been sanctioned.
10. Network Program on Development of Digital Database of Bioresources of NE
A network programme proposed by 8 PIs from 7 different institutes of NE India on
development of a „Digital database of bio-resources of North East India‟ has been
setup by DBT. The Programme is aimed at digitizing, keying in the data on a
structured format, developing suitable inputting and outputting systems and makes it
available in the public domain. The duration of the project is for 3 years.
Infrastructure Development
1. DBT Nodal Centre, Tezpur
Nodal Centre was established to provide logistic support for medical infrastructure
program in the NER, under which 20 medical colleges have been supported.
2. DBT NEHU Centre
DBT NEHU Centre was set up with an objective organising trainings/workshop for
faculty/research students of NER to equip them for undertaking R&D activities in
niche areas of Biotechnology, Organizing Short duration visits of distinguished
faculty from Universities/Institute outside NER.
Medical Infrastructure Facility was setup to support renovations, setting up lab.
Training/recruitment of manpower and purchase of equipment for upgradation of
infrastructure in Medical Colleges/Institutes of North East Region Colleges are being
supported for a period of 5 years. 11 medical colleges have been supported under this
scheme so far.
4. Creation of infrastructure facility of labs at NEIGRIHMS, Shillong in two
phases: in the first phase, infrastructural facility will be built to provide basic
molecular biology, genetics services and metabolic disorders. In the second phase,
facility to include advanced molecular biology and genetic techniques will be
developed to carry out diagnostics and epidemiological research activities.
To develop infrastructure and to conduct research related to the following thrust areas,
which may be established in two phases; Phase I: Genetics and molecular biology.; &
Non communicable diseases; Phase II: Tissue repository & tissue microarrays;
Cancer Immunology; Advances techniques in molecular biology and genetics for
diagnostics and research.
5. Development of Infrastructural Facilities of National Research Centre on Yak
(NRC on Yak), National research Centre on Yak, Dirang, West Kameng,
Arunachal Pradesh
The project was initiated in view of strengthening in the infrastructural facilities of
National Research Centre on Yak to improve the research dynamics for desirable gain
in yak husbandry in India. It was one time grant of a total of Rs. 337.41 lakhs.
6. Creation of Infrastructure Facilities at NRC Mithun (ICAR), Jharnapani,
Nagaland, NRC Mithun (ICAR), Jharnapani, Medziphema, Dimapur, Nagaland
This programme has been initiated to support & create infrastructure facilities at NRC
on Mithun, Nagaland for better research/ academic programmes.
The following activities were initiated towards Human Resource Development in NER.
1. Overseas Fellowship/Associateship for NER scientists
This special programme was developed and initiated in the year 2010-11 for the early
and mid-career Scientists holding permanent positions in NE region conducting
research to generate human resource trained in cutting edge areas of biotechnology.
The Overseas Fellowship is awarded for both short (3 & 6 months) and long (1 year)
term period. In the year 2010-11, 21 scientists had availed Associateship in
established institutions in different foreign countries including USA, Japan, Canada,
UK, Germany and France.
During this year (2012-2013), the fellowship has been awarded to 26 candidates for
11 candidates for long term training (I year) while 15 were approved for short term (9
for 6 months and 6 for 3 months) period.
2. Award of Biotechnology National Associateship to Scientists working in North
Eastern States
A special National Associateship Programme for training both for short term and long
term has been initiated for conducting research or training in National
Institutions/research laboratories in different areas of biotechnology such as (i)
agriculture, food and feed biotechnology; (ii) animal biotechnology; (iii) aquaculture
and marine biotechnology; (iv) food and nutrition; (v) environmental biotechnology
(vi) industrial biotechnology: materials biotechnology, reaction and process design;
(vii) medical biotechnology; (viii) Nano -biotechnology and bioengineering; (ix)
bioinformatics and IT-enabled biotechnology; (x) intellectual property and patent law.
During the year (2012-2013), the fellowship has been awarded to 11 candidates for 2
long term training (I year) while 9 were approved for short term period.
3. Entrepreneurship Development in NER
During the past years, DBT had entrusted Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL)
to organize a series of Comprehensive Entrepreneurship Development Programmes
(EDP) in NER. As a follow up of these programme, the Department has sanctioned a
project to BCIL for handholding the budding entrepreneurs and assisting them in
establishment of a successful enterprise in NER.
A training programme on entrepreneurship development for production of superior
quality planting material using in vitro technology in Northeast India has been
organized in The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI), Guwahati. This programme is
aimed at enhancing the technical capability of the entrepreneurs and scientists
researching/ engaged in mass production of tissue cultured plants and appraising them
about the current development in this field.
Research grant to support MD/MS thesis to PG students of Medical colleges/institutes
of NER of India was initiated in 2010 to support data collection, minor equipment,
book and learning resource, manuscript writing and conference travel.
The main object of this programme is to fund MD/MS-thesis research in medical
colleges wherein the research would involve working on valid scientific hypothesis
using modern biology/molecular biology/biotechnological tools on various themes
dealing with human health/infectious disease/chronic diseases.
A total of 80 medical students have been supported during 2011-2013.
5. Star college scheme
For strengthening of life science and biotechnology education and training at
undergraduate level. It is expected that the scheme will improve critical thinking and
'hands on' experimental work In the cutting edge-technologies needed for modern
biological studies at undergraduate (college) level in life sciences and more students
will opt for life science as career.
 So far 17 colleges of NER India are supported under this scheme.
6. Training program on utilization of biopesticides and biofertilizers in NE states
Aims at capacity building of local fields officials of different departments engaged in
execution of organic farming and production & utilization of agro-bioinputs in 8 NE
7. Training program on entrepreneurship development for production of superior
quality planting material using in vitro technology
Enhance technical capability of entrepreneurs and scientist researching/engaged in
mass production of tissue culture plants.
1. For strengthening agro-biotechnology research in NER, DBT partnered with Assam
Agricultural University, Jorhat to establish a “DBT-AAU centre for Agriculture
Biotechnology” at AAU, Jorhat. The major focus of the centre will be a). Basic
research-Gene technology, molecular breeding and microbial gene prospecting b).
HRD component with strong Ph.D. programme and c). Extending technology benefits
through enhanced production of bio inputs etc.
2. During the year 2012-13, establishment of DBT‟s “Centres of Excellence in Fisheries
and Aquaculture Biotechnology at College of Fisheries (FAB - COE), Central
Agricultural University, Lembucherra, Tripura”, with broad objectives as under:
 DNA Barcoding of freshwater fin fishes and shellfishes of North Eastern Region: A
biodiversity hotspot.
 Standardization of culture and captive breeding of selected indigenous ornamental
fish species of NE region of India and attribute enhancement.
 Development of Breeding protocol and intensified Culture of Minor carps for
aquaculture production enhancement in North Eastern region through diversified
species culture systems.
Contact Address:
Dr. T. Madhan Mohan, Adviser,
Department of Biotechnology,
Ministry of Science and Technology, New Delhi