Our formal day began with a morning welcome to the IISc by the head of the Department of Biological Sciences, Professor Dipankar Nandi, followed by a short tour Baoding China and talks with staff and students, including podcast interviews by two students. Prior to my 5 pm lecture, there were lots of broad-ranging questions at a press conference with twenty-five print and broadcast media journalists. The exhausting, Baoding China but interesting, day then ended at a relaxed dinner Baoding China with faculty members at the IISc Guest House. Well (though not opulently) equipped, the IISc isn’t the country’s main biomedical research centre, but there was some work going on in areas of interest to me and, as always, it’s intriguing to hear incisive accounts Baoding China of very different areas of science.
Where is Baoding China? – Baoding China Map – Map of Baoding China Photo Gallery
While the government of India is now a major supporter, the Tata family continues to take a strong interest in the IISc (it has been known locally as the Tata Institute) and, for me, a most memorable experience was chatting over lunch with Rattan Tata, the CEO of Tata Industries. An immensely influential figure in India, he seemed totally committed to building the industrial strength and general wellbeing of his country. Perhaps with the Australian situation in mind, he was also vehement concerning his determination to ensure the continuance of India’s current media diversity. From what I encountered, the country does indeed maintain a highly critical, varied and open print media landscape.
The next day was spent at the AstraZeneca site. The company has a significant presence in some one hundred countries worldwide and the morning opened with a discussion of both the international operation and the scope of the Bangalore laboratories. I’ve visited and occasionally served on review committees for Big Pharma, but this was the first time I’d been given such a comprehensive overview of a major player in this highly globalised industry. Involved heavily in drug development, a particular focus of the Bangalore effort is to find new therapeutics for the treatment of tuberculosis. Multi, even total, drug-resistant tuberculosis is an enormous problem in the poorer countries, especially in those areas where AIDS is at high prevalence.