In this article, Aditi Jain explores the implications of the draft Scientific Social Responsibility policy, released by the Department of Science and Technology, India. Through conversations with experts, she addresses the reactions of scientists, the ongoing debate over the mandate and incentivization, the clarifications required and the policy’s role in creating careers.
Scientists are increasingly lobbying for non-animal models for biomedical research, given that subtle genetic differences between humans and animals can lead to pronounced differences in disease severity. Advanced technologies such as organs-on-chips are showing potential to make biomedical research more human-relevant. Surat reports on a recent virtual event that initiated a dialogue on the possibilities and challenges of implementing human-relevant models and frameworks in India.
Some of the most pressing global concerns of today can only be addressed if disciplinary barriers are breached and a nurturing environment is created to enable free and open exchange of ideas. The echo network is an initiative that aims to facilitate this process by creating a network of like-minded thinkers and bringing them together on a common platform to brainstorm solutions to issues related to human-environment relationships in India.
Traditional vaccine trials rely on large sample populations and natural infection processes. A quicker, cheaper, but riskier method, called Controlled Human Infection Model studies (CHIMs), has also been in practice for some time. In CHIMs, volunteers are deliberately infected with a pathogen to study its effects or to test the efficacy of a vaccine. In this article, Aditi examines the science behind CHIMs and the ethical implications of legalising this method in India, where such trials are presently banned.
As India moves through the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and puts containment procedures in place, the need for rapid and widespread testing is becoming more and more critical every day. In such a scenario, it is crucial for the public and private healthcare sectors to combine their forces and coordinate their actions.