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Human Atlas

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    22nd Jul, 2019

A new human atlas initiative known as Manav has been launched by the Department of Biotechnology and Persistent Systems, a biotechnology company to create a unified database of molecular network of all the tissues in the human body and to derive a holistic picture of working of the human body.

Context

A new human atlas initiative known as Manav has been launched by the Department of Biotechnology and Persistent Systems, a biotechnology company to create a unified database of molecular network of all the tissues in the human body and to derive a holistic picture of working of the human body.

About

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  • This mega project will collate and integrate molecular information on human tissues and organs that currently lie hidden in research articles in an unstructured and disorganised form.
  • It would utilise large biological community, both students and scientists, for extracting and adding the information from scientific literature at the level of cells and organs.
  • The undergraduates and postgraduates from the various distinct fields of biology such as zoology, biotechnology, botany, biochemistry, pharmacology and medical sciences can register and contribute to this project

Background

  • The idea emerged from the success of Smart India hackathon, a nationwide contest in which large number of engineering students are being encouraged to find solutions to pressing problems.
  • In the same way, Manav will engage biology students to build their skills in reading scientific literature and deepen their understanding of biological system.

Aims of Manav

  • To orient students involved in biological courses towards an aim that will train them to read scientific literature, analyse it and also the knowledge on how to design experiments.
  • This initiative will not only seal the gaps in knowledge on human body but will also create a trained population of biologists.
  • The project aims to create a unified database, which would eventually help researchers in identifying gaps in current knowledge and help in future projects in diagnostics and disease biology.

Features of Manav

  • In this public-private venture, Department of Bio-Technology (DBT) and Persistent Systems will invest Rs 13 crore and Rs 7 crore respectively.
  • The project will be executed by Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and National Center for Cell Sciences (NCCS) based in Pune.
  • While the institutes will train students, the technology platform and data management will be provided by the private partner.
  • Students and faculty from DBT Star colleges and Biotechnology Information network system (BTIS) network will also be involved.

Other Similar Projects

  • Human Cell Atlas project was launched in 2016 as a collaborative effort between scientists.
  • This project is designed to generate data pertaining to cellular and molecular activities of various cell types in the body in both its normal and disease state using techniques such as single cell genomics.
  • The Indian project, on the other hand, depends on the knowledge already available in scientific literature to derive information on cellular network.

Way Ahead

  • The project team is in talks with other scientific agencies such as the All India Council of Technical Education, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), University Grants Commission and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for possible collaboration.
  • The general methodology of acquiring and visualizing data methodology and technical platform developed during this project can be extrapolated to do other science project on biodiversity, ecology, environment etc. which may be relevant nationally or globally.
  • The information gathered in the project will help scientists to understand the differential molecular factors which vary between diseased states versus a healthy state of an organ. Further, it will bring out the cross-talk of molecular factors in various organs helping in understanding the networking between organs in a better way.
  • With the data curation and analysis skills imparted during this project, students will have better opportunities for jobs in life science sector.

Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs)

  • It is the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. Five such Institutes have already been established at Kolkata, Pune, Mohali, Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram.
  • The vision of these institutes encompasses creation of research centres of the highest caliber in which teaching and education in basic sciences will be totally integrated with state-of-the-art research.
  • These Institutions are devoted to under-graduate and post-graduate teaching in sciences in an intellectually vibrant atmosphere of research and make education and career in basic sciences more attractive by providing opportunities in integrative teaching and learning of sciences.

National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS)

  • It is an autonomous organisation aided by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, was established with a tripartite mandate of:
    • Serving as a national repository of animal cell cultures.
    • Undertaking research in cell biology.
    • Human resource development.
  • NCCS has been carrying out cutting-edge research in cell biology, has been providing valuable services as a national animal cell repository and has been supporting human resource development through various teaching and training programmes.

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