India to be associate member state of European Molecular Biology Organisation

The Department of Biotechnology of the ministry of science and technology today signed a cooperation agreement to become an associate member state of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), a move that would strengthen scientific interaction and collaborative research between India and Europe in the field.

After the signing of an agreement with Singapore by EMBC in July 2015, India will now become second such country outside the European region.

EMBO is an organisation of more than 1,700 leading researchers that promotes excellence in the life sciences. The major goals of the organisation are to support talented researchers at all stages of their careers, stimulate the exchange of scientific information. The movement was started in 1964 as European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) and subsequently it got intergovernmental funding.

With the signing of the agreement as an EMBC associate member state, researchers working in India are now eligible to participate in all EMBO programmes and activities. Indian scientists can apply to EMBO's programmes, such as long-term fellowships for postdoctoral researchers, short-term fellowships, courses and workshops, as well as the EMBO Young Investigator Programme. Europe will also benefit from networking with the top-level scientists in India's research community.

The official kick-off launch ceremony of the agreement was held in New Delhi, India today. Scientific presentations were made by Nobel Laureates Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Ada E. Yonath to mark the occasion.

''For the past five years, we have been promoting international interactions beyond Europe, and India is one of our prime partners. I am extremely pleased that India is going to be an associate member of EMBC and I look forward to India being able to access EMBO activities,'' Professor Maria Leptin, director of EMBO said.

While many European researchers have established scientific connections in India, he said the agreement with EMBO will further strengthen the ties with more tools and formal opportunities for interactions.

Professor K Vijay Raghavan, secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), who signed the agreement, said: ''India is rapidly growing into a position where we are making extraordinary demands on ourselves. India can only succeed if we partner with the best everywhere to bring the best here.''

''Through EMBO, we will not only have the excellent joint programmes that benefit India and Europe, but we hope to be a magnet that attracts bright young people to science from in- and outside India,'' he added

Professor Gerrit van Meer, president of the EMBC, remarked: ''All member states welcome the exchange with Indian scientists that this agreement will bring. We look forward to seeing transcontinental projects spanning India and Europe grow in future.''

An EMBO-led delegation of ten researchers is in India now to visit various institutes across the country and meet with Indian scientists and government representatives.

In 2015, ten Indian postdoctoral researchers had received EMBO long-term fellowships to work in Europe and eight India-based scientists had received the EMBO short-term fellowships.