BIOTECHNOLOGY INFORMATION SYSTEM (BTIS): A Report*
The Bioinformatics Programme successfully completed the 8th Plan activities envisaged by the expert group. Ten Distributed Information Centres (DICs) and 23 Distributed Information Sub-Centres (DISCs) are operational. The network has been equipped with modern computers and communication system. These centres are also having trained manpower to cope up with the fast growing requirements in bioinformatics. Over 150 technical personnel are engaged here to provide vital support to promote biotechnology research and development in the country.
Most of the centres are now connected with the satellite communication network of NICNET. During this year, the Centres at Anna University, Madras; Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat; Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; Calcutta University, Calcutta; Cancer Research Institute, Bombay; Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar; and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore have been provided with VSAT connectivity to NICNET/RENNIC. The use of INTERNET and sharing of resources has been accelerated with the help of BTISNET.
Home Pages on Department of Biotechnology (http://www.nic.India-Image/dbt); Biotechnology Information System (http://www.nic.in.projects/farm) have been hosted on INTERNET for worldwide access. The BTIC has also helped to share the information resources on Biotechnology and Biodiversity among the participating countries of FARM programme sponsored by FAO/UNDP/UNIDO.
National Facility for High Resolution Graphics
The National facility for the high Resolution Graphics at MKU, Madurai, CCMB, Hyderabad, IISc, Bangalore, Poona University, Pune and Bose Institute, Calcutta offers facilities for molecular modelling, charge calculations, structure determination, structure analysis, etc. The use of these facilities over the past two years has resulted in several publications in the area of developmental biology. The facility hosted in the bioinformatics centres, have also developed several user-friendly software packages. The Bioinformatics Centre at University of Pune, Pune has carried out several projects through this facility. Some of the important projects relate to molecular dynamics, simulation of a PvuII substrate, modelling of peptides for rheumatoid arthritis factor and beta-microglobulin, peptide vaccine modelling for JE, etc. The Bioinformatics centre at Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai has evolved about 10 good publications using this facility in the area of ab initio charge calculations, protein structures and DNA structures.
Advance Diploma Course in Bioin-formatics
Bioinformatics is an emerging area arising from the demand of information analysis and management in the area of biology and biotechnology. Bioinformatics which involves diverse aspects of molecular modelling, macromolecular sequence analysis, online database access, bibliographic searches and software development is relevant and useful for the researchers to take up topical and new work. However, it has been observed that there is a shortage of trained manpower who can function effectively in this area. There is a need for a structured course which will provide theoretical foundation and a working experience in the different aspects of bioinformatics and biocomputing. The Department responded to this demand through its Bioinformatics programme and initiated Advance Diploma Course in Bioinformatics at two universities. The first one at Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai has already been started whereas the second one at University of Pune, Pune would be started very soon.
Software Development Activity
The Bioinformatics Centre at University of Pune, has developed several software packages for Biotechnology Research applictions in collaboration with C-DAC, Pune such as i) PRAS (Parallel Multiple Sequences Alignment Package); ii) PNAS (Protein and Nucleic Acid Query System); iii) MG (Molecular graphics); iv) MX; v) MxCurv; vi) Algorithms for gene structure prediction; vii) Multimedia programs on "Immune System". PRAS received the Best Application Award "PARAM" instituted by C-DAC.
Database Development Activities
Biotechnology Information Centre (BTIC) in DBT has developed several databases namely, i) Breakthroughs of DBT sponsored projects; ii) Publications arising out of DBT funded Projects. The DISC at IIT, Delhi has developed i) CHOROMOTO (Bibligraphic Database on chromato-graphy); ii) MONCON (Database on Monitoring and Control of Bioreactor; and iii) SIMU (Bibligraphic Database on Simulation Studies. The DISC at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore has developed Germplasm Information System for Crops such as rice, pearl millet, redgram, cotton, sesamum, and tomato. The DISC at Cancer Reasearch Institute, Bombay has developed Databases of Antibodies to intermediate filaments, Tissue Culture Cell lines and Bibliographic Database on Vaccines for AIDS.
Impact of Bioinformatics Centres on the Overall Growth of Computerisation Activities
The bioinformatics centres under the BTIS Programme have also helped the overall growth of their respective host institutions. Centres like University of Pune, Pune; National Insitute of Oceanography, Goa; Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad; Anna University, Madras; Calcutta University, Calcutta have established Local Area Networks (LAN) with their respective organisations. The Bioinformatics Centre at Calcutta University, Calcutta has established LAN/WAN over the five different campuses in the University spread across the city.
Training Programmes in Bioinformatics
The various centres have conducted several training programmes/workshops. Atleast 200 researchers have been trained every year. This has helped in speeding the pace of biology research in the country. The list of DICs and DISCs is given below:
DISTRIBUTED INFORMATION CENTRES
1. Biotechnology Information Centre, Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi.
2. Bose Institute, Calcutta.
3. Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
4. Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.
5. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
6. Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh.
7. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
8. Madurai Kamaraj University, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai.
9. National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi.
10. University of Pune, Deptt. of Zoology, Pune.
DISTRIBUTED INFORMATION SUB-CENTRES
1. Aligarh Muslim University, Bioinformatics Centre, Aligarh.
2. All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Dept. of Biotchnology, New Delhi.
3. Anna University, Centre for Biotechnology, Chennai.
4. Assam Agricultural University, Dept. of Genetics & Plant Breeding, Jorhat.
5. Banaras Hindu University, School of Biotechnology, Varanasi.
6. Biotech Consortium India Ltd., New Delhi.
7. Calcutta University, Department of Biophysics, Calcutta.
8. Cancer Research Institute, Department of Cell Biology, Bombay.
9. Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow.
10. Central Instt. for Fresh Water Aquaculture, Bhubaneswar.
11. Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, School of Biotechnology,Indore.
12. Guru Nanak Dev University, Department of Biotechnology, Amritsar.
13. Indian Institute of Technology, Department of Biochemical, Engg. & Biotechnology, New Delhi.
14. Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar.
15. Kerala Agricultural University, Bioinformatics Division,Thrissur.
16. M.S. University of Baroda, Dept. of Microbiology & Biotechnology, Vadodara
17. National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal.
18. National Environmental Engg. Research Institute, Nagpur.
19. National Institute of Oceanography, Biological Oceanography Division, Goa.
20. Pondicherry University, Pondicherry.
21. Tamilnadu Agricultural University, School of Genetics, Coimbatore.
22. Tamilnadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University
Bioinformatics Division, Chennai.
23. University of Delhi, Deptt. of Biochemistry, New Delhi.
* Source : Department of Biotechnology Annual Report 1996-97.