New genetic solutions to improve human health and agriculture
The Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) team seeks to utilise the latest revolutionary advances in genetics to address the pertinent questions in biology that are relevant to India.

Genetics is the pivot for all biology. As our fundamental understanding of genetics continues to grow, new discoveries can have immediate implications for human health, agriculture, livestock and for understanding and mitigating diseases. Our team seeks to use the latest advances in genetics to address the most pertinent questions in biology, particularly those relevant for India today. Our current efforts have started with studies on human health and agriculture. In the context of climate change, conservation biology is an area we are also beginning to explore.

In our human health efforts malaria, dengue and chikungunya and their vectors are our current focus. We investigate the vectorial capacity of mosquitoes, their neurobiology, population ecology, landscape genetics, and explore strategies for how disease transmission can be reduced. In collaboration with Institute for Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB, https://www.ibab.ac.in/), we have sequenced the Anopheles stephensi genome to create a local reference standard. In collaborative efforts with Amrita University (https://www.amrita.edu/), we explore strategies to combat multidrug resistant bacterial infections. With Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR, http://www.jncasr.ac.in/), we have initiated a new effort to use haematopoietic stem cells to model and genetically correct diseases, such as sickle cell anaemia. We interact with National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS, https://www.ncbs.res.in/) and inStem (https://www.instem.res.in/) in the areas of population ecology, structures of protein complexes using cryo-electron microscopy, as well as protein design and engineering. In our efforts in agriculture, we explore the genetic basis of crop losses caused by biotic and abiotic stresses and herbicides. For this, we collaborate with academic institutions (University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, https://www.uasbangalore.edu.in/) and breeders in India who have developed rice varieties through traditional breeding methods. Importantly, in all our efforts, we seek to work closely with regulators, as well as stakeholder and community groups, to create socially conscious policies.

This palate of work is rooted in the philosophy that the most creative translational research is borne out of close interactions with fundamental research. To this end, we have the unique privilege to be generously funded by the Tata Trusts, and yet be embedded within the thriving intellectual environment of the Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster (BLiSc, https://www.ncbs.res.in/blisc) that includes NCBS, which excels in fundamental research, inStem, which excels in team-driven and translational research, and the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (CCAMP, http://www.ccamp.res.in/), which provides incubator spaces and resources for taking the most competitive of research ideas towards commercial success and social value.

Read on to learn more about our individual teams at TIGS - Centre at inStem (TIGS-CI)!

COLLABORATING INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA
NCBS, inStem, Amrita University, JNCASR, IBAB, CUTN, UAS (GKVK)

PUBLICATIONS (involving TIGS-CI scientists)

  1. A. Guichard et al, (2019), Nature Communications, 1640.

  2. S. Sen, K. VijayRaghavan. (2019), Development 2019 146:dev183517 DOI: 10.1242/dev.183517.

  3. S. Sen Neurotransmitter Identity: (2019), eLife 2019;8:e47162 DOI:10.7554/eLife.47162.

  4. J. M. Marshall et al, (2019), Front Genet., Oct 30;10:1072. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.01072. eCollection 2019.