Prof K VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Dept of Biotechnology, Government of India, inaugurated the Repository of Tomato Genomic Resources (RTGR) building at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) in the presence of Prof Ramaswamy Ramakrishna, Vice-Chancellor of the University on 2nd September 2013. RTGR has been built to house the genomic resources and continue the research for tomato functional genomics and metabolomics. The RTGR is housed in a building with 10,000 sq ft area on a 7-acre land earmarked for growing tomato plants. In addition, this area also has 10 Green Houses with floor space of 6000 sq ft to grow the tomato plants.
In the year 2004 an international initiative was started to sequence the tomato genome with an International Scientific Network named “International Solanaceae Genome Project” (SOL). The Dept of Biotechnology (DBT), New Delhi, supported Indian SOL program as part of the above international network. Under SOL Phase I, DBT sanctioned grants to UoH for isolation of tomato mutants using reverse genetic tools to generate genomic resources and provide the gene specific mutant lines to scientific community. In addition the DBT also sanctioned grant for biofortification of tomato fruits with health beneficial nutraceuticals. To carry out research in the above areas the DBT provided nearly Rupees 20 crore grant to the University.
The major aim of RTGR is functional characterization of all tomato genes through the use of mutants, allelic variation, expression profiling (at metabolite, protein and gene levels) and other methods. The RTGR is using the above resources to improve the nutraceutical quality of tomato fruits and shelf life.
Later Prof. VijayRaghavan delivered a lecture at the DST auditorium on ‘Why should India invest in scientific research’. In his lecture, Prof. VijayRaghavan dealt mainly with the present research scenario in India and the global value of Indian research today. The lecture started with the description of the great contributions made to science by Indian scientists like Homi Bhabha, J.C. Bose, Ramunajan etc. and why unlike the old scientists, the new age scientists from India fail to stand out today.
Prof. VijayRaghavan while addressing the students, faculty and staff said that there is a need to intellectually drive ourselves to keep pace with the changing world. His lecture threw light on some of the drawbacks of the Indian working system where there is competence without comprehension, neglect and fear to embark on new trajectories. Prof. VijayRaghavan emphasized on the need to merge individual and institutional agendas.
Quoting Charles Vest, Former President of MIT he ended his talk emphasizing on four important lessons.
1. Teaching and research must be intimately intertwined as the quality of results in a university is determined by the quality of its faculty; 2. Science can only flourish in an open environment; 3. Competition engenders excellence in higher education and 4. Fundamental Scholarship and Research must exist on an equal plane with applied research and innovation.