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UK-India Researcher Links Multi-disciplinary Workshop on TB Diagnostics

Monday, June 3, 2019 - 09:00 to Thursday, June 6, 2019 - 17:00
Chennai, India

Call for Early Career Researchers

University of Edinburgh, School of Chemistry has joined hands with National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), India to conduct a workshop titled - Multi-disciplinary workshop – Achieving rapid, accurate and affordable diagnosis of tuberculosis and drug resistant tuberculosis in minimally resourced settings. TB diagnostics requires broad interdisciplinary expertise in multiple areas, therefore, in addition to NIRT and the University of Edinburgh, the workshop will also involve other leading Indian and UK institutes, e.g., the Indian National Aids Research Institute, the Indian Institute of Science, the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine  - institutions that are fully complementary in their skills sets.

Workshop Details

Costs

The Newton Fund and the Royal Society of Chemistry will cover the costs related to the participation to the workshop, including: economy travel (both international and local), accommodation and meals. Costs for the visa, and travel insurance will be covered; however participants will be responsible for making all the necessary arrangements. The British Council accepts no responsibility for any problems which may occur with travel or accommodation arrangements or any other issues participants might experience when the participants are away from their home.

Eligibility

Young scientists from the UK and India (12 each, < 7 years after their PhD’s) from varied backgrounds such as chemistry, TB microbiology, optical physics and immunology with a breadth of diversities. Participants must have links to UK or Indian higher education or research institutions.

Selection Criteria

Early career researchers will be selected based on their research interests, strength of their CV and the application.

Please complete the application form and return to: sesha.venkateswaran@ed.ac.uk (UK applicants) and umadevi.r@nirt.res.in (Indian applicants) by 5th April 2019.

Mission

The workshop is designed to bring together day-to-day practitioners/users of TB/MDR TB diagnostics, alongside those with the skill sets to develop, design and build new tools and technologies with a focus on developing early career researchers and building collaborations. The workshop will promote future UK-India collaborations to develop new TB diagnostics and will:

  1. Bring together experts to address the key needs of patients, clinicians and the WHO’s stated deliverables of affordable, reliable and point-of-care TB diagnostics.
  2. Embrace the importance of interdisciplinarity by bringing together researchers from across various disciplines, while working closely with clinicians, to begin to design and develop practical solutions, which will impact on large numbers of patients in India.
  3. Provide opportunities for early career UK and Indian scientists to work together and jointly obtain a full understanding of the unmet and clinically challenging problems that exist in TB diagnosis within India.

The workshop will thus bring together relevant experts from academia and industry from UK and India - to understand and define the current priority TB diagnostic needs for India and to develop collaborations and action plans to address those unmet needs. Thus the long-term aim of the workshop is to develop innovative tools for TB diagnosis, while in the short-term it will lead to collaborations between world-leading researchers in India and UK, exchange of researchers/students, as well as enable today’s experts to help the personal development of ‘future experts’, i.e., by mentoring early career researchers in both countries. In line with WHO’s End TB strategy of ‘collaborative HIV/TB activities and management of co-morbidities’, the participation of the National Aids Research Institute (NARI), the apex national institution for HIV/AIDS research in India will enable development of holistic TB diagnostic solutions that also address specific challenges relating to HIV-TB co-infections.

Scientific Focus

The scientific focus of the workshop would be to allow discussions and promote future UK-India collaborations to develop:

  • Rapid screening of TB infection with low-cost portable optical devices and chemical molecular probes for accurate and rapid ‘triage tests’ to allow ‘no-wash’ detection of Mycobacteria ‘ in sputum at costs lower than existing microscopy-based methods with the aim of replacing current sputum-based microscopy that suffers from low sensitivity.
  • Affordable, accurate and rapid diagnosis of drug-resistant tuberculosis ‘in-field’ at a fraction of current technologies that are expensive, require centralised facilities and infrastructure as well as high levels of operator expertise.
  • Biomarkers for early diagnosis and assessing treatment response: Point-of-care devices for blood-based biomarkers that are modulated during progression from latent to active TB and during treatment progression.

Dr Seshasailam Venkateswaran of University of Edinburgh, who leads ARREST-TB, a multilateral (UK, India, Spain, Italy and Russia), Horizon 2020 project on TB diagnostics, and with an extensive network of international partnerships in academia and industry built this workshop theme and team of experts/mentors and will serve as its Coordinator.

Scientific Leads

University of Edinburgh

Professor Mark Bradley is a world-leading chemist, and the Director of an EPSRC Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration, Proteus, that comprises some 50 staff encompassing Chemists, Biologists, Optical Physicists, Engineers and Clinicians. Mark and his team have taken bacterial optical imaging agents from the bench into patients and has also developed a revolutionary molecular diagnostics technology.

National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, India

Dr Srikanth Tripathy is the Head of NIRT with the responsibility for strategic oversight and management, including various local collaborations and overseas research partnerships.  NIRT is a world-renowned WHO collaborating centre for TB research and training and undertakes cutting-edge research in TB diagnosis, treatment and prevention, as well as in appraising new TB diagnostic technologies, producing >1500 publications, over the years. NIRT will also provide to the workshop, a clinical perspective from an Indian context to ensure the developed technologies are appropriate for local use.

Other experts/mentors:

  • Professor Sundarrajan Asokan, Indian Institute of Science, India.
  • Professor Hazel Dockrell, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK.
  • Dr Luke Alderwick, University of Birmingham, UK.
  • Dr Samiran Panda, National Aids Research Institute, India.
  • Dr Umadevi, National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, India.
  • Dr Natarajan, National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, India.
  • Dr Chandrashekhar Nair, Big-tec limited, India.
  • Dr Manisha Ghate, National Aids Research Institute, India.
  • Professor Tim Daffron, Linear Diagnostics, UK.
  • Dr Matthew Hicks, Linear Diagnostics, UK.
  • Professor James Fleck, University of Edinburgh, UK.
  • Professor Kev Dhaliwal, University of Edinburgh, UK.

We believe that this workshop will lead to new and world-leading TB diagnostic technologies and enable you to develop new international ties for longer-term joint research activities and exchange of staff and students among partner institutions – with a focus on TB.

Applications

This workshop is supported by a Researcher Links grant funded by the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry and delivered by the British Council.

Partner institutions

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In association with

Sponsor logos for the British Council, Newton Bhabha Fund and the RSC

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