The ambit of research activities at NCBS has diversified appreciably in the past year, with the addition of five new faculty members and three young investigators. With this expansion, research activities in biological spectroscopy, nucleic acid biochemistry, cellular neurobiology, human and population genetics, cellular networks and cell biology have received a major infusion of new ideas. At the same time, the need for additional equipment that will facilitate the work of the new research groups, has become manifest. Moreover, much of the research carried out at NCBS is multi-disciplinary in nature, which demands that a wide range of instrumentation be available in a user-friendly way.
The new instrumentation needed by the new investigators could be procured through regular internal funding from TIFR. TIFR has strongly supported NCBS' commitment to provide sufficient start-up funds to new investigators, so that the time taken to get their laboratories up and running, is minimized. Thus, new investigators get the highest priority for internal NCBS funding. But the research activities of older faculty members also demand periodic replenishment of research infrastructure. After new faculty, common research facilities receive the next highest priority for funding. Senior investigators do receive internal funding from NCBS, which is based on past performance, but they are expected to continue to equip their laboratories through grants funded by outside agencies. Happily, this has happened to a large extent.
Faculty members have also come together to obtain funding for major equipment. Thus, a multi-photon microscopy and spectroscopy station with fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy and correlation spectroscopy capabilities, as well as atomic force microscopes, which were funded partially by outside funding agencies and partially by NCBS, have been set up in the past two years. The imaging facility at NCBS continues to grow, and further initiatives to secure external funding, already taken up by interested faculty members, will lead to substantial augmentation of this facility in the near future.
With a new Biosafety facility also having become functional during the past year, NCBS is also looking forward to increased research activity at the interface of biology and clinical medicine. Collaborative research interactions with medical institutions have already been proposed, and additional new research infrastructure will soon need to be added. The increasingly efficient Technical Services group and Administration at NCBS will ensure that the new facilities and laboratories are established on a time scale that is comparable to the best seen elsewhere in the world.