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News Category: News


Meet our B4 Fellows


As part of SAI’s Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginnings (B4) Program, five postdoctoral fellows from India will spend a year at Harvard working in a science lab under the mentorship of a Harvard faculty member. The fellows have range of specialties, including plant physiology, computational biology, evolutionary cell biology, and molecular genetics.

The program is supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and Department of Information Technology & Biotechnology and Science and Technology, Govternment of Karnataka.

 

Meet the fellows:

GayatriGayatri Ramakrishnan

Home institution: Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Field/specialization: PhD in Computational Biology
Harvard faculty mentor: Prof. Martha Bulyk (Harvard Medical School)
An overview of the research you will conduct at Harvard: I have begun to work on structural basis of DNA-binding specificity of transcription factors. In simple terms, the study aims to understand and analyze: a) rules that aid interactions between DNA and certain biomolecules known as transcription factors (that “activate” a gene); and b) rules (mutations) that could potentially damage such interactions. The inferences from such a study are valuable in directing experiments on genetic diseases in human and cancer research.
What are you most excited about for your year at Harvard? Exchanging ideas and having healthy discussions with pioneers and experts in science.

 

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A new way to detect fake medicines


Technicians test antimalarial tablets on a PharmaChk device, Accra, Ghana, Dec. 5, 2016. PHOTO: WOLFGANG KRULL

Technicians test antimalarial tablets on a PharmaChk device, Accra, Ghana, Dec. 5, 2016. Photo: Wolfgang Krull

This article was originally published by the Wall Street Journal. Muhammad Zaman, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, is a visiting faculty member at SAI.

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‘Aesthetic approach of Islam is the way forward’


AsaniThis article was originally published by Dawn.com about a Jan. 13 SAI event cosponsored with Habib University.

By Haneen Rafi

KARACHI: In an attempt to deconstruct negative stereotypes about Islam that are rampant in popular discourse, there is an urgent need to understand and propagate it from an aesthetic approach, said Harvard scholar Prof Ali Asani during his talk at Habib University on Friday.

While highlighting the importance of religious and cultural literacy in a cosmopolitan world, Prof Asani gave a nuanced perspective to the differences that set us apart, which have resulted in polarisations and created conflicts.

Prof Asani teaches Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, and is also the former Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Programme at Harvard.

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Engineers, techies delve into the mysteries of brain


The following article, published in The Times of India covers the Harvard South Asia Institute Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginning Program (B4), which aims to aims to build a scientific research corridor and will engage scientists from India and Harvard through exchange programs: 1) Science and Technology Fellowships at Harvard and other peer institutions in the Boston area. 2) A two-week Young Scientists Development Course in Bangalore. The program builds upon SAI’s Resonance Course on Neuroscience in 2013.

 

72By Sreemoyee Chatterjee

BANGALORE – Imagine a human brain controlling the movement of a prosthetic arm just like a real one or a robot with motor skills exactly similar to that of humans or a machine with 100% vision accuracy like that of humans. A bunch of 25 young students of technology is now learning the multidisciplinary dimensions of neuroscience at a two weeklong workshop in the city.

The Harvard South Asia Institute workshop seeks to introduce Indian undergraduates and postgraduates to the excitement of brain science. Interestingly, all participants are either from electrical, mechanical, chemical or software engineering backgrounds or are students of bioscience and are driven by an eagerness to know all about the brain.

Venki N Murthy, professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of undergraduate studies in neurobiology at Harvard University, and Laura Magnotti, advisor, neurobiology concentration at Harvard University, are conducting the workshop at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bengaluru.

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Health crisis faces the Rohingya people of Myanmar


06Myanmar-master768After decades of discrimination, the Rohingya—a Muslim ethnic group living in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia and other southeast Asian countries—are experiencing a severe health crisis, according to a study co-authored by experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.

In 1982, the Rohingya were stripped of citizenship in Myanmar (known as Burma before 1989), leaving them stateless. Since then they have faced a cycle of poor infant and child health, malnutrition, waterborne illness, and lack of obstetric care, according to the Lancet study. The researchers explore the Myanmar government’s poor treatment of the group and suggest steps that can be taken to address the health and human rights crisis.

Authors of the study included Jennifer Leaning, SAI Steering Committee member, and Arlan Fuller, director and executive director, respectively, of Harvard Chan School’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights; and Harvard Medical School’s Syed Mahmood (first author) and Emily Wroe.

Read a New York Times article about the study: Rohingya Face Health Care Bias in Parts of Asia, Study Finds

-Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health

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In Short Supply: Post-disaster medical care


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This article, featuring SAI Steering Committee member Jennifer Leaning, was originally published in Harvard Medicine Magazine.

By Elizabeth Dougherty

When a calamity strikes and tens of thousands of people need help, the first impulse is to cry “All hands on deck!”

Not so fast, say experts in disaster relief.

“It was always thought that in a disaster there wouldn’t be time to measure the quality of the aid, and no real reason to do so,” says Michael VanRooyen, an HMS professor of emergency medicine, head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University. “We assumed that any care is good care.  But we now know that’s not the case.”

When providing medical care in disasters, health care providers must make on-the-spot decisions about who should receive care and how much, and they must do so with the knowledge that resources are limited in every conceivable way.

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Faculty Voices: Where India and China Meet


1Where India and China Meet: Buddhist Art Exhibition in Palace Museum, Beijing  

By Jinah Kim, Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

Kim received a SAI Faculty Grant for her research on Indian painting.

A first major loan exhibition of Indian art in Beijing, China is currently held in the majestic Meridian gate tower of the Palace Museum (September 28, 2016- January 3 2017) of the Forbidden City (see a virtual tour of the exhibition here.) “Across the Silk Road: Gupta Sculptures and their Chinese Counterparts during 400 to 700CE” is an ambitious exhibition conceived by the senior curatorial fellow of the Palace Museum, Dr. Lou Wenhua, after his visit to India over 3 years ago. Fifty-six sculptures from nine Indian Museums are on display against a red backdrop in one gallery, while two adjacent galleries are filled with over one hundred Chinese Buddhist sculptures against blue backdrop. Bringing this exhibition together is an impressive feat by the organizers in Beijing, which, of course, was not possible without collaborative efforts from many museum personnel and officers in India.

When the China-India bilateral relationship is not as rosy and warm as anticipated (i.e. India’s failed entry into the NSG at the Seoul plenary, CPEC [China Pakistan Economic Corridor] developments—part of President Xie Jinping’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road projects), the exhibition reminds us of the age old connections between the two countries, notably activated and solidified through the transmission of Buddhism. It also opens up new possibilities of trans-regional connections for the future that may benefit tremendously from mutual understanding of each other’s culture and history.

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Student voices: The Politics of Knowledge


In search of a South Asian climate: Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

In search of a South Asian climate: Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

This is part of a series of reports from Harvard students who have traveled to South Asia with support from a SAI grant.

By Joshua Ehrlich, PhD Candidate, Department of History

A summer research grant from the South Asia Institute took me recently to a handful of archives across the UK: three in Scotland and one in London. The research was primarily in English and Indo-Persian source materials connected with my dissertation, “The East India Company and the Politics of Knowledge.” These materials ranged from the mundane to the mystical; from the collections and correspondence of administrators to the poems and petitions of scholars. My project aims to give a new account of the political and ideological uses of knowledge in South Asia, in the eventful decades around 1800. Such materials are its evidentiary bread and butter.

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