IndiaBiospeaks: What is IndiaBioscience?

Introduction to IndiaBioscience

Team IndiaBioscience chats about how as an initiative, it fills a unique niche in the ecosystem of life sciences in India.

Podcast Transcript with Timestamp


You’re listening to IndiaBioscience Podcast, your one-stop resource for science news and careers


Hello and welcome to [IndiaBioSpeaks], a new podcast series by IndiaBioscience, where we are going to bring you the latest news, opinion and discussions related to life science research in India.

In fact, we are also going to talk about science careers, outreach, education and much, much more in this series. So stay tuned for that.

But today, we would like to take some time to introduce ourselves to you, and tell you little bit about what we do.

To tell you more, we have the whole IndiaBioscience team here in the studio with us today


We’ll each introduce ourselves as we go along. I am Lakshmi, and I coordinate the Indiabioscience website, which is really the face of the initiative. I will also be your host for this episode.

We are joined by Smita, who is our associate director, and has been with IndiaBioscience since 2016.

Hello Smita, it’s great to have you with us, can you tell us a bit what IndiaBioscience really is?


IndiaBioscience is a non-profit initiative. Our aim is to promote changes that affect the culture and practice of doing science in India.


That’s interesting. How do you do that?


Basically, we try to function as a catalyst, as an enabler of change. We try to engage actively with academia, with the government and with industries at multiple levels.

We try to increase the visibility of science in society, and we do this through (1) science communication (2) by aggregating relevant information and (3) by facilitating discussions on science and science policy.


That is excellent! So do tell us something about how such an initiative (IndiaBioscience) came to be?


IndiaBioscience was set up in 2009 with the aim of filling a very unique niche in the ecosystem of life sciences in India.

Ron Vale (UCSF), K VijayRaghavan (who, as you may know, is now the PSA, Govt. of India), Satyajit Mayor (Director of NCBS and InStem, whom we all know as Jitu) and LS Shashidhara (from IISER, Pune) have been the key people involved with the activities of IndiaBioscience from its inception.

Earlier this year, Roop Mallik (TIFR) and Rashna Bhandari (CDFD) have joined the board as well.

We are funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD), Govt. of India.


That’s great to know Smita. Coming to some of the activities that IndiaBioscience is involved in. Can you explain how it influences the culture and practice of doing science in India, as you mentioned before?


Yes. So, we have a five-part mandate that helps us focus our efforts.

The first mandate is to enable networking of life science professionals, both in India and abroad.


And how do you do this?

[YIMS] There are a number of ways. One of these is via the Young Investigators Meetings (or YIMs), which we organize every year. In this meeting we bring together young faculty, who have recently set up their labs in India, and post-doctoral fellows, both from within India and abroad, who are planning to set up their own labs in the near future.

By bringing them together, and by hosting mentoring sessions, themed discussions, poster presentations etc, we try to facilitate networking, mentoring and recruitment of such young talent at these meetings. We have been doing this for over ten years (2019 is going to be the 11th meeting) and we have received great feedback from all our attendees so far. So, this is something that we hope to continue doing in the future.


This is great Smita. Certainly we can use all the young talent here that we can get in India and the YIMs are instrumental in doing so. Anything else, along these lines?


Well, recently, we have also started to help develop local scientific networks, by organizing regional YIMs, to encourage collaboration amongst researchers from different institutes and backgrounds.

We just had our first regional meet in Hyderabad last month. Regional YIMs at Kashmir and Kolkata are next in line.

That’s great to hear, Smita. In what other way does IndiaBioscience serve the life science community?


Our second mandate is to increase the visibility of Indian scientific research and opportunities. For the first part, this involves science communication


To discuss this in this studio with us we have Shreya, who is the Program Manager for science communication at IndiaBioscience. So Shreya, can you tell us more about this aspect of IndiaBioscience’s activities?


Yes Lakshmi.

[Science News] As you mentioned before, the face of Indiabioscience is our website (www​.indi​a​bio​science​.org). We regularly publish science news stories, which highlight the latest research new discoveries that is coming out of Indian labs.

[Columns] Besides this, we also have a regular column section on our website, where we have more in-depth articles, such as analyses, opinion pieces, interviews etc, all of which relate to the Indian research scenario.

[Discussions] Also, we have a discussion forum on our website, which has several sections that would be of interest to researchers, educators, and one dedicated exclusively to science communicators.

[Social Media] We are there on Twitter , on Facebook, on LinkedIn. Please follow us and feel free to reach out to us on whatever medium you prefer. If you want to receive all the articles we publish every week right in your inbox, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter through the link on our website. .

[Audio Visual Communication] And finally, with this podcast initiative, we are also exploring other mediums of science communication.


That sounds impressive Shreya. Do visit our website, subscribe to our newsletter and connect with us on social media to learn more. So then Smita, tell us about the third Mandate


Lakshmi, the third objective of IndiaBioscience is to act as a bridge between life science researchers and educators across India. Navodita coordinates the activities of our education vertical, which has done really valuable work across academic institutions.


Great! and Navodita is right here with us. Navodita, can you throw some light on the IndiaBioscience’s activities in promoting science education in India?


Certainly Lakshmi! Our education vertical is funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Our aim, as Smita said, is to help connect educators with peers and researchers.

[Resources] On our website, we feature articles relevant to higher education in the life sciences. We also host curated resources (e‑books and video libraries) for educators.

[Network Building] In addition, we aim to build a country-wide network of educators. Our educator-focused newsletters routinely reach all the undergraduate teachers in our network. We also have a dedicated online discussion forum to help educators connect with each other and discuss relevant topics.

[iWonder] Finally, iWonder is a middle school teacher-focussed magazine published by the Azim Premji Foundation in collaboration with IndiaBioscience. Here, we strive to put forth foundational science articles that inculcate curiosity and inspire innovative teaching practices.


Thats sounds fantastic Navodita! The iWonder magazines are indeed a great read, stimulating young minds!.And all the issues up till now are free to download on the Azim Premji foundation website. Please check them out if you want to learn more.

Lets now hear from Smita about the fourth mandate of IndiaBioscience


Sure. Our fourth mandate is to aid the development of science careers and promote exchange of scientific expertise in India


Skill building! Yes, very important indeed in one’s individual career development. We have Manjula with us in studio, who our Program Associate,. Manjula, can you tell us more about what IndiaBioscience does to promote skill building and career development


Yes Lakshmi!, Skill building is another major goal of IndiaBioscience, and we offer this mainly through conducting workshops and publishing resources on our website.

[Workshops] We periodically conduct workshops on science communication, grants writing, science administration and science careers (either independently or in association with other partners.

We are very excited about two of our upcoming workshops for women, one on Science Journalism and, one on Science administration and management, both of which will happen right here in Bangalore in November this year. For these events, we are partnering with British Council, IISER Pune, and Coventry University.

[Resources] Besides these, you can visit the resource section on our website, which has videos, lectures, e‑books, booklets. I’m sure you’ll find useful if you are exploring different careers in science. We are also working on women in science booklet which we are very excited about!


Thanks Manjula, as you mentioned, our website lists relevant events and publishes many useful resources updated periodically. Do check them out! That should bring us to the fifth and final mandate. Back to Smita to tell us what its about. Smita?


Lakshmi, our fifth mandate is to publish data that is current and relevant to the bioscience community at large, and establish IndiaBioscience as a node for discussion on policy matters


To learn more about this — lets chat with Manoj. Manoj is our Program Associate for Education. Manoj, can you elaborate on what IndiaBioscience does on this front?


Lakshmi, through our web-presence, IndiaBioscience also serves as a hub of relevant information for the bioscience community in India. We actively publish, and invite announcements on the latest jobs, grants and events that are relevant to both life science researchers and students. You can see a huge list if you go to our website, and this is regularly updated.

We have also published resources relevant to the research community, such as a database of research organizations in the biological sciences, useful e‑books, and lectures from workshops and meetings.


Thanks Manoj and Thanks Team IndiaBioscience!. It was fun chatting with you today and wonderful to hear about the transformative work that has been happening over the years and your vision to serve the bioscience community in India.


To all our listeners, Thanks for listening, and do watch out for our upcoming podcast series on science careers.

If you are passionate about scientific research, communication, outreach and science education, as we are, please connect and engage with us. Here are some ways you can do:


Visit our website @ www​.indi​a​bio​science​.org

Subscribe to our newsletters

Write for us; and join online discussion forum at dis​cuss​.indi​a​bio​science​.org

Advertise Jobs, grants and events in the life sciences, on our website

And feel free to contact us anytime @ hello@​indiabioscience.​org

Until next time, enjoy your science and stay engaged to enable change