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Located in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology is a premier institute that does research in the frontier areas of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. This is an autonomous institute coming under the Department of Biotechnology, the Government of India. When it was incorporated in 1990, it was an R&D centre under the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. The renovated and upgraded research centre was dedicated to the nation by the former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The centre recently opened its second campus at a place called Aakulam in the capital city of God's Own Country. In a recent edition, reputed science journal by the name BioSpectrum has ranked the biotechnology course offered at the institute as the second best course available in the country. According to the magazine, the biotechnology course offered at the Mumbai-based Institute of Chemical Technology is the best course available in the country.
In 1990, the centre began its work in humble surroundings as a small charitable society. At that time, the society was christened as the Centre for Development of Education, Science and Technology (C-DEST). Looking at the scope of the work undertaken by the society, it was upgraded into a "Grand-in-Aid" institute of the Government of Kerala in the year 1991. Subsequently, it was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Development of Education, Science and Technology (RGC-DEST). After its renaming, the centre became the first institution in the country to be named after the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Later in 1994, the Government of Kerala decided to drastically revamp the institute and convert it into a research centre for Biotechnology. As a result of this restructuring, the Rajiv Gandhi Centre of Biotechnology was born. During its initial days, the biotechnology centre was managed by the State Government's Committee Science and Technology (STEC). Later the mantle of the administration of the institute was handed over to Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. In 1995, the foundation stone for the new building for the institute was laid by then Prime Minister of the country Sri. P.V. Narasimha Rao. For the next seven years, the institute proved its mettle by doing some solid research in the field. In the year 2002, the refurbished centre was dedicated to the nation by then President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Under the able leaderships of its founder director Dr. M. Ramachandra Das and his successor Dr. R.V. Thampan, the institute grew in stature, infrastructure, and the quality of research.
As the institute grew up, the amount of resources it required also increased proportionately. As a result, the Government of Kerala was not in a position to provide material and resources for the institute. As a result, the state government under different Chief Ministers tried to convince the Government of India to take over the institute for supporting its research. After several rounds of discussion, the Government of India decided to accord the status of an autonomous National Institute to Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology.
Works at the Institute
In order to conduct the focused research in different fields of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, the institute has different research departments. They are Medical Biotechnology and Plant Genetic Engineering. The department of Medical Biotechnology covers the researches in the fields such as Molecular Microbiology, Cancer Biology, Neurobiology, etc. On the hand, the department of Plant Genetic Engineering does research in the fields such as Spice Genomics and Disease Reduction, and Plant-based Bioactives and Disease Biology. Subsequently, the departments of Chemical Biology, Infectious Disease Biology and Chronic Disease Biology were introduced to diversify into other areas of research to benefit the mankind.
To augment its research, the institute has a number of facilities. These are as Mass Spectrometry, Core Proteomic Research, Core Instrumentation, DNA Fingerprinting, Laboratory Medicine, Molecular Diagnostics and Animal Research facilities. The centre's DNA fingerprinting facility offers DNA analysis services for forensic and criminal investigations, disputes involving paternity issues, wildlife remains identification, and authentication of plants and seeds. Besides these services, the departments of infectious diseases and chronic diseases provide a battery of molecular diagnostic tests for identifying different genetic and infectious diseases. The centre also provides the laboratory infrastructure services to other sister institutions in the country for carrying out their research work.
The institute offers different courses for the benefit of student communities. It includes PhD programs, post-graduation programs, and post-doctoral programs in different areas of biotechnology. For the benefit of the general public, the institute also conducts short-term and long-term courses in the selected areas of biotechnology. The courses offered at the centre are amongst the best in the country, which is evident by the ranking given by the magazine BioSpectrum. In fact, the magazine ranked the courses available at the centre as the second best in the country.
Rajiv Gandhi Centre of Biotechnology is an autonomous national institute working under the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. This institute is located in the capital city of Kerala. In a span of 23 years, the RGCB has grown in stature, quality of research, and infrastructure to become an institute of international repute. The institute does research in key areas of biotechnology, ranging from plant genomics to the core areas of medicine such as cancer biology. The courses offered by the institute have been regarded as the second best in the country by a magazine by the name BioSpectrum, the first being that offered by Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai.