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Director's ImageNational Institute of Immunology has established itself as a premier research centre in several areas of modern biology, with special emphasis on the field of immunology.  We believe this institutional characteristic, carefully and intentionally nurtured by preceding Directors over the years, bestows upon us unique, multi-dimensional strengths. I am fortunate to be associated with a bunch of energetic and capable colleagues; their commitment to the ideals of scientific rigor and excellence is what drives the Institute forward. Our students are the best and brightest; their dynamism and passion is a critical ingredient in our intellectual pursuits, and of campus life.

While continuing our explorative thrusts in basic research, we also lay stress upon the development of new products and the establishment of novel processes, with the objective of creating a more immediate impact on the human condition. In a nutshell, we stand for doing excellent science, innovative science and more importantly, relevant science, within the ambit of our expertise.

The Institute is primarily involved in basic and applied research in the following broad areas:

  • Biophysics and Molecular Design
  • Cancer Biology and Chronic Diseases
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Vaccines
  • Infectious Diseases

While on-going programmes have kept us busy, the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has thrown up sudden challenges and unique opportunities. Benefitting from our inherent institutional strength and expertise, several of us have embarked upon the design and evaluation of a protein-based vaccine; initiatives in drug discovery are also underway.

As our understanding of immunology broadens, we increasingly imbibe the tools and techniques of physical and engineering science. In order to fully exploit the potential of such cross-fertilization, NII has recently initiated a Flagship Programme on Immuno Engineering. This umbrella project encompasses research on novel adjuvants and vaccines (for infectious diseases and cancer), immunotherapeutic strategies and artificial antigen presenting cells, scaffolds and drug delivery devices, and on new methods and protocols for regenerative medicine. Several therapeutic modalities involve the adoptive transfer of cells that have been modified in vitro using molecular methods, and then grown to high density in bioreactors, in the presence of appropriate cytokines, growth factors and support cells. We therefore aim to also set up an advanced cell culture/fermentation facility to grow human cells/tissues/organs for therapeutic applications.

The support of the Department of Biotechnology, in terms of both funds and intellectual inputs, has been an enduring source of strength; their administrative assistance and guidance has allowed the optimal use of our resources.

We shall continue to build on our strengths, and look to the future with great anticipation.

Amulya K. Panda

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