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Praveen Gupta, Premas Biotech.

posted Sep 16, 2015, 2:49 AM by Vinod Scaria   [ updated Sep 17, 2015, 8:43 PM by SRamachandran igib ]

My association with IGIB goes back a long way, so it is with a lot of ardour that I pen down my thoughts for this space. IGIB, with its eclectic expertise in various disciplines of biological sciences, has inspired one and many for being a pioneer in cutting edge modern genomics research. For Premas though, IGIB epitomises researchers who are “early adopters”. In Marketing, lighthouse customers are known as the ones who always have an appetite to adopt a technology or concept earlier than others. They have any eye for identifying the potential of a technology much before it becomes a norm and are driven by a huge drive to be ahead in the game filled with completion. Needless to say, this requires foresight and a risk appetite, a formidable task especially in a government set up, where every step is scrutinised.

I came in close proximity with IGIB’s scientific fraternity in 2006, thanks to the technology offering of Illumina. Incidentally Premas was incepted in that same year by a bunch of rookie first timer technocrats (including myself) who were bitten by an entrepreneurial bug. Premas were a technology based start-up, unknown to everyone, vying for a foot through the academic doors. At that time, there were many other established players offering high throughput genomics solutions and would have been safer bets for procurement procedures. But true to the real scientific spirit of open-mindedness, IGIB senior faculty saw the merit of our offering of a superlative technology.

Premas took wings and from an 8 member start-up, employ more than 100 people today and has evolved to have a strong presence in the life sciences domain. In our many years of working closely with IGIB, we have witnessed a lot of differentiators in IGIB who we believe are reasons of its success. The scientific pool here strives to make things work amidst uncertainties and adversities. A particularly striking example of this ownership is illustrated by the first microarray facility set up at Naraina, where locally sourced solutions and innovative thinking ensured over 99% success rate in the genotyping experiment performed- in spite of having 32 power cuts at a newly built site with a railway track next door!!! I clearly remember illumina's international team went back learning a lot of new tricks on making things work in amidst the multiple hurdles typically experienced in developing countries.

I strongly believe that this is a major need for making science succeed in India. Technology providers like us can value add to any research proposition by offering our strengths to the discerning scientist. IGIB has led from the front in this aspect as well, giving an extra motivation to our team to make things work. It has also fostered a symbiotic relationship culminating in some of my team members getting publication credits with IGIB.

We strongly believe that this early & successful adoption of technology by IGIB has paved way for modern genomics in India and has also initiated a ecosystem wherein service providers and suppliers cater to the growing demands in the outsourcing sector. Today, the outsourcing industry for genomics collectively employs a workforce of more than 1000 people. This is a classic example of an academic set up contributing to the economy, and creating jobs for the youth.

In the last 9 years of our association with IGIB we have been proud to be a part of some of the most advanced and cutting edge research pursuits of IGIB mainly the Indian Genome Variation Project, First Eukaryotic genome, first Indian & Srilankan Human Genome Sequencing, GWAS on Largest cohort of Metabolic disorders, Ayurgenomics and many more. We are absolutely sure that the scientific pursuits of IGIB will soon be translated to products and services that will reach the clinic and meet the distinct need of ‘benchside to bedside’ at an affordable price point. We would like to wish IGIB a grand success in all their future outings and would like to see them continuing their leadership role in shaping the application of genomics to reach the common man.

All the best IGIB, and we are very proud of you !

The illumina team