Focused Research Areas : Bioinformatics and Big Data Analytics
The Government of India established the Biotechnology Information System Network in 1987, the first of its kind in the world. Initially, nine Distributed Information Centres (DICs) were established all over India with the objective of creating infrastructure for information dissemination in the field of biotechnology. BIC at CSIR-IMTECH, Chandigarh is one of the DICs supported by DBT under the BTIS programme. It has shown consistent growth in different areas of bioinformatics whether in carrying out peer reviewed research or in providing services, data bases and software worldwide. The centre also provides services in the fields of protein modelling, protein engineering, biocomputing and networking. BIC staff has trained a large number of students and scientists over the years by conducting national and international conferences/training workshops. They train students of IMTECH and nearby universities. BIC provides education and research-related material to public via its website and provides infrastructure for R&D in bioinformatics. BIC has developed more than 200 webservers and data bases which are used by the public (with more than 125,000 hits per day) worldwide.
BIC is reputed for its research in bioinformatics, particularly in the field of computer-aided designing of drugs and vaccines. In the last 15 years, more than 25 students successfully completed their Ph.D. in bioinformatics. Presently, around 15 students are pursuing their Ph.D. in the field of bioinformatics at BIC. Additionally, a few project fellows/research associates assist in the research activities of BIC. The staff at BIC have published more than 250 research papers in reputed journals (with an average of 15 publications per year), almost all of which are highly cited (with more than 8000 citations to date). The major research activities of BIC staff include Structure and function characterization of proteins and peptides using in silico techniques, computer aided vaccine design, annotation of genomes and proteomes, prediction of drug targets, cheminformatics, viral bioinformatics and computational resources for drug discovery.
Bioinformatics Centre is equipped with state-of-art infrastructure that includes a 3D graphics facility having immersive virtual reality system and graphics workstations. In India, this lab is the first of its kind that fosters an atmosphere of active discussions in the area of structural biology and drug design as it is used for high end visualization of protein structural data. Further, servers, storage systems along with high performance computing provide necessary platform for the big data analysis and predictive biology in the bioinformatics centre. We foresee the future of Bioinformatics Centre at IMTECH having cloud based computing for solving the computational biology problems.
Thus, scientists at BIC at IMTECH shall continue to carry out research in different areas such i. development of databases and web servers/analysis tools in the areas of genomics, proteomics, immunology, system biology etc. ii. Prediction of protein structure-function relationship and beyond iii. Understanding infectious and rare disease biology with systems based approaches for identifying potential therapeutic interventions and diagnostic methods in addition to iv. Unraveling mechanistic details of protein at molecular level with reference to its function and dynamics. Centre would also like to experimentally validate predictions made using in silico methods. Staff of centre shall be actively engaged in the research work in collaboration and otherwise.