Free Press Journal

India needs to invest in cancer, diabetes research: US scientist


Kolkata:  India needs to invest in research in emerging challenges such as diabetes, cancer and neurological disorders, Indian-origin US cancer biologist Inder Verma said here Monday.

Verma is a leading authority in gene therapy, retrovirology, and cancer, particularly glioblastomas (brain tumour).

Verma – who is originally from Punjab – is an American Cancer Society Professor of Molecular Biology in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California, San Diego.

“We have had very large amount of investments in communicable diseases (in the past), which still remains a big deal.

“But now that the country is economically better, particularly for some middle class families, there is really an emerging need for (investments in) non-communicable diseases,” Verma told IANS on the sidelines of the Infosys Prize Award here.

Verma is the jury chair for the Infosys Prize 2014 for the discipline of life sciences.

He said the areas to think for the future were “cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, particularly diseases like Alzheimer’s”.

“For example, diabetes which has become a real challenge now was not such a big deal before,” he said.

Verma said India has a long way to go compared to the US, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country last year has spurred action in certain disciplines like cancer.

“We have a long way to go because our investments have been relatively small compared to the US.

“When Mr. Modi came to US not so long ago, there has been certain encouragement in working in certain areas such as cancer biology,” he said.

Collaborations between the two nations, according to Verma, will be “helpful” in terms of technology transfer, ideas and exchange of scientists in the future.

“There has been very little research in basic sciences in cancer which Mr. Modi together with the National Cancer Institute in India has begun to make collaborative efforts. There are more efforts in vaccines,” he added.