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To manage the Indo-German Science Centre for Infectious Diseases (IG-SCID), the Division of International Health, ICMR has taken up a project entitled “Managing the Indo-German (ICMR-HGF) Science Centre for Infectious Diseases (IG-SCID)” under the Principal Investigatorship of Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Deputy Director General/Scientist E, IHD, ICMR. Dr. Harpreet Sandhu, Scientist D, IHD, ICMR is the Co-Investigator.

The project has been in operation since September, 2007. The major aim of the project is to promote Indo-German cooperation on infectious diseases and to oversee the effective execution of laid down procedures and protocols by the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).The basic aims and objectives of the projects are as under:

  1. To facilitate coordination of the twinning projects conceptualized under Indo-German Science Center for Infectious Diseases.
  2. To provide logistics and co-ordination for organizing joint workshops in frontier areas of cooperation in the field of infectious diseases.
  3. To promote and facilitate exchange of both scientists and students to foster ties for capacity building by utilizing the identified platforms of universities/ centers/ research institutions of excellence.
  4. To arrange & organize physical meetings of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) & the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) members at alternate locations and/or through tele-conferencing or video-conferencing whenever required.  
  5. To create a web based interactive platform to discuss views and analyze relevant problems as well as for dissemination of information about the IG-SCID.
    Areas under which workshops were organized include:
  1. Genetic Susceptibility
  2. Vaccines and Anti-Infectives
  3. Viral Diseases (HIV/HCV)
  4. Zoonoses and Animal Models of Infectious Diseases

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I. Workshop on Genetic Susceptibility was held during 1st to 2nd October,     2007, at Goslar, Germany

The following scientists attended the workshop:


Indian Participants

Scientific Chair

    • Prof. Narinder K. Mehra, All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS), New Delhi.

Participants

      1. Prof. A.P. Dash, National Institute of Medical Research(NIMR), Delhi
      2. Dr. Ramesh S. Paranjape, National AIDS Research Institute(NARI), Pune
      3. Dr. Kiran Katoch, National JALMA Institute for Leprosy and Other Mycobacterial Diseases, Agra
      4. Dr. Gurvinder Kaur, All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS), New Delhi
      5. Dr. Ajay Wanchu, Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh
      6. Dr. Ranga Uday Kumar, J N Center for Advanced Science Research, Jakkur, Bangalore


German Participants

Scientific Chair

    • Prof. Hansjörg Hauser, Division of Molecular Biotechnology, HZI, Braunschweig, Germany.

Participants

      1. Prof. Jorg Schmidke, Department of Clinical Immunology, MHH Medical School, Hannover
      2. Prof. Reinhold Schmidt,Department of Clinical Immunology, MHH Medical School, Hannover
      3. Dr. Andrea Kroger, Division of Molecular Biotechnology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research Braunschweig
      4. Dr. Dagmer Wirth,Division of Molecular Biotechnology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig
      5. Dr. Javier Martin, Instituto de Parasitologia y Biomedicina “Lopez-Neyra” Granada, Spain
      6. Dr. Torsten Witte, Department of Clinical Immunology, MHH Medical School, Hannover 
      7. Dr. G. S. Chhatwal, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig

Summary of presentations of Indian participants during the workshop:

    • Prof. Narinder Mehra described the detection and characterization of peptide presenting Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules (disease susceptibility genes) and their role in controlling immune responsiveness in mycobacterial diseases like leprosy, tuberculosis, HIV infection, autoimmune disorders like Type 1 Diabetes mellitus, Celiac disease, Lupus and Rheumatoid diseases.
    • Dr. Gurvinder Kaur spoke on the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) studies in HIV positive individuals of Northern India and showed that vulnerability to HIV infection and development of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome(AIDS) is associated with HLA-A*24; B*35Px; A3,B7 super types and DRB1*03. In India alleles at HLA-A (A*02/*11/*24/*01/*33) and at HLA-B (B*05/*35/*40/*44/*07) were predominant and would be useful in designing MHC based Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte (CTL) peptide vaccines for the Indian population.
    • Dr. R. S. Paranjape spoke on the safety, but low level of T cell responses in Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) based HIV vaccine given to normal healthy HIV infected adults. He also spoke about the genetic diversity of HIV clade C including B/C recombinants and their prevalence in India. He explained that the Indian HIV-1 subtype C has limited env genetic diversity compared to sequences from other countries thereby suggesting that there may be shared epitopes(antigenic determinant) among circulating viruses and that the immune response induced by one strain may extensively cross-react with the other isolates.
    • Dr. Wanchu outlined his research work on genetic epidemiology of HIV/AIDS and markers of disease activity in systemic autoimmune disorders. He suggested identifying genetic variants that influence susceptibility to autoimmune diseases like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Primary Sjorgen's syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Inflammatory Myositis by mapping the regulatory regions of these genes that affect transcriptional activity & subsequent protein expression.
    • Prof. A. P. Dash spoke on the genetic diversity of the vector “Plasmodium” causing malaria and the varied disease manifestation and response to therapy in different geographical areas. Due to these variations, there are differences in the vector control measures being used as well as development of vaccines for prevention of malaria.
    • Dr. Kiran Katoch deliberated on the issues of molecular and genomic approaches relevant to clinical and therapeutic research in mycobacterial diseases i.e. leprosy and tuberculosis. She also highlighted the chronicity of the leprosy disease, incidence and severity of reactions, strain variations in the mycobacteria, response to treatment in different ethnic populations, development of resistance and variations in response to various vaccines.
    • Dr. Uday Kumar Ranga made a presentation on the unique genetic diversity of the HIV-1 subtype C strain of Southern Indian cohorts. He brought into focus the important and unique molecular and biological properties of this important viral subtype probably underlying the successful dissemination of this strain globally. He briefed about evaluating the role of “Siddha” in HIV/AIDS human clinical trials.

 

The project entitled “Implications of the Interferon system and immunogenetic basis of resistance to HIV-1 infection and disease progression” conceptualized during the workshop has been submitted and funded.

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II. Workshop on Vaccines & Anti-Infectives held during 30th to 31st October,
    2007, at Braunschweig, Germany

The following scientists attended the workshop:

Indian Participants

Scientific Chair

    • Dr. V. A. Arankalle, National Institute of Virology(NIV), Pune

Participants

      1. Dr. Bhaskar Saha, National Centre for Cell Sciences(NCCS), Pune
      2. Dr. Saumitra Das, Indian Institute of Science(IISc), Bangalore
      3. Dr. Ranjan Kumar Nandy, National Institute of Cholera & Enteric Diseases(NICED), Kolkata


German Participants

Scientific Chair

    • Prof. Carlos Guzman, Department of Vaccinology, HZI, Braunschweig

Participants

      1. Dr. Ronald Frank, Department of Chemical Biology, HZI, Braunschweig
      2. Dr. Thomas Pietschmann, Twincore Centre, HZI, Hannover
      3. Dr. Werner Tegge, Department of Chemical Biology, HZI, Braunschweig


Summary of presentations of Indian participants during the workshop:

  • Dr. Saumitra Das outlined his  work on inhibition of hepatitis C virus translation by nucleic acid based antiviral agents, such as, DNAzymes, (si/shRNAs), small RNA analogue. He also explored the collaborative expertise on the HCV mouse model being developed by Dr. Carlos Guzman. He proposed the setting up of a High Thoughput (HT)-screening of synthetic and natural compounds for HCV infection targeting the viral RNA translation, based on the experience and expertise of Indian and German partners in this area.
  • Dr. Bhaskar Saha stressed upon the collaborative potential of his compatriot Dr Carlos’s work on vaccine adjuvants and it's possible application in the area of Leishmaniasis. He proposed to test the chemical arrays on Leishmania proteins to generate the preliminary data.
  • Dr. Ranjan Nandy proposed the development of effective anti-infective agents against V cholerae as well as to understand the role of quorum sensing/biofilm formation in its pathogenesis.


The following projects conceptualized during the workshop have been submitted and funded.

      a. Novel strategies to combat cholera

      b. Novel strategies to combat leishmaniasis



III. Workshop on Viral Diseases (HIV/HCV) held during 30th to 31st October 2007 at Hannover, Germany

The following scientists attended the workshop:


Indian Participants


Scientific Chair

    • Prof. S. K. Sarin, Department of Gastroenterology, G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi

Participants

      1. Prof. Puja Sakhuja, Department of Pathology, G. B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi
      2. Dr. S. Mahalingam, Division of Molecular Virology and Cell Biology, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai
      3. Dr. Shahid Jameel, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology(ICGEB), Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi
      4. Dr. Rajni Rani, National Institute of Immunology(NII), New Delhi
      5. Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee,  Department. of Biochemistry,  University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
      6. Dr. Harpreet Sandhu, International Health Division, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi

     

German Participants

Scientific Chair

    • Prof. Reinhold Schmidt, Department of Clinical Immunology, MHH Medical School Hannover, Hannover, Germany

Participants

      1. Dr. Dirk Meyer Olson, Clinic for Immunology and Rheumatology, MHH Medical School Hannover, Hannover
      2. Dr. George M N Behrens, Division of Clinical Immunology, MHH Medical School Hannover, Hannover
      3. Dr. Jurgen Rockstroh, Department of Medicine University of Bonn, Bonn
      4. Dr. Matthias Stoll, Division of Medicine, MHH Medical School Hannover, Hannover
      5. Dr. Roland Jacobs, Clinical Immunology, MHH Medical School Hannover, Hannover
      6. Dr. Michel Stratz, Finance Department, HZI, Braunschweig

In the workshop it was decided that a joint proposal may be developed on immune responses in HIV/HCV infected patients.


 Summary of presentations of Indian participants during the workshop

  • Dr. Rajni Rani discussed the role of pf MHC class I and II alleles in the manifestations of HIV and HCV infections. Role of Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor (KIR) gene complex was discussed in relation to HLA-A, B and C alleles. Since there is no data available from the Indian subcontinent, it would be important to study the co-infected cases with respect to their immuno-genetic pre-dispositions since these genes have a functional role in terms of immune responses to the infectious agents.
  • Dr. Sharmishtha Banerjee discussed about Mycobacterium tuberculosis and HIV co-infections.
  • Dr. S. Mahalingam discussed the role of pf cellular Mitogen-Activated Protein (MAP) kinases on HIV pathogenesis.
  • Dr. Shahid Jameel discussed the role of HIV accessory proteins like Nef and Vpu in HIV infections in down regulating MHC class I expression, down regulation of CD4+ T cells and how Nef deficient virus does not cause AIDS.
  • Prof. Puja Sakhuja discussed about the emerging concept on hepatic fibrosis, stellate cells and cannabinoids. She discussed the stellate cell activation in HCV and HCV-HIV coinfections and the role in fibrogenesis and the mechanisms involved. It was proposed that Natural Killer(NK) cell pattern in HCV related liver disease could be studied with further correlation with stellate cell activation and necrosis, as NK cells can directly lead to stellate cell death. 
  • Dr. Harpreet Sandhu, presented an outline of mechanisms and procedures for Indo-German collaboration in health sector.

The project entitled “HCV-HIV co-infection: Immune mechanisms, viral interactions and pathogenesis”conceptualized during the workshop has been submitted and funded.

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IV. Workshop on Zoonoses and Animal Models of  Infectious Diseases was held at New Delhi on 15th September, 2008

The following scientists attended the workshop:


German Participants


Scientific Chair

    • Dr. Klaus Schughart, Department of Experimental Mouse Genetics, HZI, Braunschweig, Germany

Participants

      1. Prof. G.S.Chhatwal, Division of Microbiology, HZI, Braunschweig
      2. Dr. Eva Medina, Research Group on Infection Immunology, HZI, Braunschweig
      3. Dr. Bastian Pasche, Post Doctoral Fellow, HZI, Braunschweig
      4. Dr. Michal Straetz, Finance Officer, HZI, Braunschweig
      5. Ms. Helga Brink, Project Manager, HZI, Braunschweig

Indian Participants

Participants

      1. Prof.N. K. Ganguly, Advisor to Hon’ble Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Govt.of India, and Former Director General, ICMR, New Delhi
      2. Dr. S.K. Bhattacharya, Additional Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi
      3. Dr. D.K. Mitra, Department of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi 
      4. Dr. Malini Shroff, Department of Microbiology,VP Chest Institute, New Delhi
      5. Dr. B.K. Das, Department of Microbiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi
      6. Dr. Subeer S. Majumdar, National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi
      7. Dr. Mukesh Kumar, International Health Division, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi
      8. Dr. R.S. Sharma, Division of Reproductive Health & Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi
      9. Dr. Harpreet Sandhu, International Health Division, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi
      10. Dr.Nivedita Gupta, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases (ECD), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi
      11. Dr. Arvind Nath, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases (ECD), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi


Summary of presentations of German participants during the workshop:

  • Dr. Klaus Schughart made a presentation on genetic susceptibility of the host to influenza infection. He described briefly about mapping the susceptibility loci in mouse model, with genetically diverse mouse populations to influenza A infection to mimic human genetic diversity. This analysis of different inbred mouse strains revealed large differences in their susceptibility to viral infections. Viral load, chemokine cytokine production, cellular infiltrates and lung pathology has been studied and the results suggested an elevated early viral replication and immune pathology due to over-reactive immune response as one of the main factors for the high susceptibility in one inbred mouse strain. These results will lead to important insights into the mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions and the immune response in humans.
  • Dr. Bastian Pasche made a presentation on the Infection Challenge Platform (ICP) for mutant mice. The ICP can be used to phenotype genetically modified mice as well as modified pathogens.
  • Dr. Eva Medina described a mouse model of infection for the identification of genetic factors and immunological mechanisms underlying host resistance/ susceptibility to Staphylococcus aureus.

Summary of presentations of Indian participants during the workshop:

  • Prof. N.K. Ganguly highlighted the issues related to research on animal models which could be used to study infectious diseases and diabetes. He also informed gathering about development of transgenic mice and other animal models by different Indian institutes for various research areas like tuberculosis, viral diseases, oncology, leprosy and malaria.
  • Dr. S.K. Bhattacharya stressed on zoonoses to be taken up as an important potential area of research for Indo-German collaboration.
  • Dr. D. K. Mitra presented his work on genetic susceptibility to tuberculosis and proposed to use animal models for understanding the host immunity.
  • Dr. Benu Dhawan spoke on animal models of Staphylococcus aureus including MRSA. She mentioned that Staphylococcus aureus has developed resistance to nearly all antibiotics and that mupirocin-resistance is being largely observed. She described the findings of studies on skin and soft tissue isolates and also the spread of community-acquired MRSA to hospitals. Some strains of Staphylococcus aureus produce a potent toxin called Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) which usually causes skin and soft tissue infections, including boils and abscesses.
  • Dr. Malini Shroff discussed her work on Pneumococi carried out by her.
  • Dr. S.S. Majumdar gave a presentation on “Mouse modeling future implications and safeguards”.
  • Dr. R.S. Sharma, made a presentation on “Quality control and availability of lab animals” in India.
  • Dr. Mukesh Kumar reiterated the goal and vision of IG-SCID and affirmed about modalities for exchange visits and format to be submitted for a joint project and progress report under IG-SCID. He also made a presentation on transfer of human biological material.
  • Dr. Harpreet Sandhu made presentation on “Ethical issues in animal experimentation".
  • Dr. Nivedita Gupta gave an overview of Zoonotic diseases in India and role of ICMR.

V.The event was organized for launch of the website of Indo-German Science Centre for Infectious Diseases (IG-SCID), URL address: http://www.icmr.nic.in/igscid

The IG-SCID website launch event was held at ICMR Headquarters, New Delhi on 26th November, 2009 .The website was inaugrated by Dr. V. M. Katoch, the Secretary, Department of Health Research(DHR), MoH (F&W) & Director Genral, ICMR. While inaugrating the website he said that launching of this website initiates the era of an virtual office and a historic event in bi-lateral relations between the two countries for the advancement of medical research relevant to pressing public health needs of Indian people’. Dr Katoch views the mutual relations and new scientific partnership between India and Germany as more of intimate friendship rather than commercial venture and felt that raising the IG-SCID will prove monumental in international collaboration in scientific research. Dr. Heinz Wirth, Counselor (S&T) at German Embassy in India who was present on the occasion was delighted to note that the scientists of the partnering countries will be able to not only share their experiences but also publish scientific findings on the website. He recommended the linking of the Science Circle forum coordinated by the German Embassy, New Delhi URL http://www.science-circle.org/ with the IGSCID website so that the scientific community could be benefited in the long run. The minutes of this activity can be seen here.

VI.The first meeting of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and a Projects’ Progress Seminar were held on 7th April, 2010 at ICMR Hqrs, New Delhi.

Under the ICMR-HGF (Helmholtz Association) Memorandum of Understanding, the first meeting of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and a Projects’ Progress Seminar were held on 7th April, 2010 at ICMR Hqrs, New Delhi.
The JSC meeting was co-chaired by Dr. V.M. Katoch, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India & Director General, ICMR and Prof. Jürgen Wehland, Scientific Director, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Braunschweig, Germany.
The minutes of this meeting & seminar can be seen here.

VII.The Hon’ble Prime Minister of Niedersachsen, Germany Mr. David McAllister visited India.


The Prime Minister of Lower Saxony David McAllisterThe Hon’ble Prime Minister of Niedersachsen, Germany Mr. David McAllister visited India along with scientists from Hannover Medical School and the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig.  During his visit to the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi on 30th September 2010, he lauded the joint efforts to create Indo-German Science Center for Infectious Diseases (IG-SCID) which has become the role model for Indo-German scientific cooperation.

Mr. Prime Minister of Niedersachsen commented that his aim to visit India was to reinforce and deepen existing relationships with India as we had a long tradition of cordial relations between the two countries which has benefitted both the nations. This scientific cooperation event was organized at NII, New Delhi on 30th September, 2010 between 1.00 p.m. to 3.30 p.m(IST) and attended by high level delegations on both sides for panel discussion led by Prof. N. K. Ganguly, DBT/former DG, ICMR, Prof. Drik Heinz, HZI, Prof. G.S. Chhatwal, HZI, Prof. Reinhold Schmidt, MHH and Prof. Rajendra Prasad, JNU.

Dr V. M. Katoch, Secretary, Department of Health Research(DHR), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW), Government of India (GOI) & Director General(DG), ICMR delivered the welcome address along with Dr. M. K. Bhan Secretary, Dept. of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science &Technology, GOI.


Dr. G. S. Chattwal, HZI, Braunschweig and German Nodal Officer for IG-SCID along with Mr. Henning Noske, Editor of Braunschweig Newspaper from Germany call on DG, ICMR and visited the IG-SCID at ICMR Hqrson 28th September 2010 and interviewed Dr. V.M. Katoch, Secretary, DHR, MOHFW, GOI & DG, ICMR, New Delhi and Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Indian Nodal Officer for IG-SCID ICMR.

 

VIII.Signing Ceremony of the new Memorandum of Understanding between ICMR and HGF.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Helmholtz Association (HGF), Germany have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on translational efforts in biomedical research for a period of next five years. The signing ceremony of the ICMR- HGF was held at Hyderabad House, New Delhi on 31st May, 2011 in the presence of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and H. E. Chancellor of Germany, Dr Angela Merkel. The MoU will provide for active translational efforts in biomedical research particularly in infectious diseases with long term capacity building for researchers and scientists. Both the countries will be benefited in multiple areas pertaining to the biomedical research and public health in terms of joint collaborative research efforts and projects.

IX.The second meeting of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and a Projects’ Progress Seminar were held during 29-30 June 2011 at Berlin, Germany.

The second meeting of the Joint Steering Committee (JSC) and Projects’ Progress Seminar under this MOU were held on 29th June, 2011 & 30th June, 2011 at, Berlin, Germany followed by a visit to Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI), Braunschweig in Germany on 1st July, 2011. The Indian delegation led by Dr. V.M. Katoch, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India & Director General, ICMR, along with Prof. S. K. Sarin, Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi, Prof. Seyed Hasnain, Indian Institute of Technology- Delhi and Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Head, IHD, ICMR as Member Secretary participated in JSC. Shri Sanjiv Datta, Financial Advisor, ICMR and Dr. Rashmi Arora, Head, ECD, attended the Projects’ Progress Seminar. The ICMR & HZI are planning to hold a joint workshop in the area of translational research in infectious diseases in India during 28-29 November 2011.

The minutes of this meeting & seminar can be seen here.

X.A symposium on Translational Research in Infectious Diseases was organized at India International Centre, New Delhi during 28‐29 November, 2011.

  Under ICMR-HGF MoU, a symposium on Translational Research in Infectious Diseases was organized at India International Centre, New Delhi during 28‐29 November, 2011. The areas covered during the symposium were Hepatitis C Virus, Novel Anti-infective Compounds  ; Humanized Mouse Models; Improved Human Vaccines, Streptococcal Diseases and HCV/HIV Co-infections wherein nine scientists from Germany and more than 20 scientists from India had participated for in-depth discussion and identified potential co-operation partners for selection and specfic areas for joint research projects to be undertaken in 2012-13 under the proposed Indo-German Translational Research Programme.

Visit by Dr. G. S. Chattwal, HZI, Braunschweig, German Nodal Officer for IG-SCID


Dr. G. S. Chattwal, HZI, Braunschweig, German Nodal Officer for IG-SCID visited ICMR Hqrs on 23rd, March 2012 and met DG, ICMR and Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Indian Nodal Officer to discuss the future activities of Indo-German centre.

 
Symposium on Translational Research
Minutes of 2nd JSC meeting and Projects Progress Seminar
Genetic Susceptibility
Vaccines and Anti-Infectives
Viral Diseases (HIV/HCV)
Zoonoses & Animal Models of Infectious Diseases
Launch of IG-SCID website
P.M. of state of Lower Saxony, Germany visited to India