COVID-19; Eight teams of scientists from India and US selected

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Eight binational teams of researchers from India and the US have been selected for pursuing cutting-edge research in pathogenesis and disease management of COVID-19, according to an official statement on Tuesday.

The teams will pursue research in areas such as antiviral coatings, immune modulation, tracking SARS CoV-2 in wastewater, disease detection mechanisms, reverse genetics strategies and drug repurposing.

The research awards were announced by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), an autonomous bilateral organisation jointly funded by the governments of India and the US, which promotes science, technology, engineering and innovation through substantive interaction among government, academia and industry.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the US Department of States are respective nodal departments.

The mission of the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum is to act as a catalyst to promote long-term scientific collaborations between India and the United States through partnerships amongst individual scientists, scientific institutions, and the scientific community at large, the DST statement said.

“The eight teams are among the best few who had submitted proposals in response to an invitation of proposals to harness the combined expertise of the Indian and US Science & Technology communities, facilitate partnerships between teams of Indian and US scientists and engineers currently engaged in COVID-related research, and leverage existing infrastructure from both countries to further advance the research and accelerate progress,” the statement said.

Ashutosh Sharma, DST Secretary and IUSSTF India Co-Chair, said an overwhelming response in a short time to the special call on COVID-19 demonstrates a wide spectrum of cooperation between India and the US from the basic studies on the behaviour of SARS-Cov-2 virus to its transmission to diagnostics and therapeutic approaches.

“Our existing strong cooperation in S&T on health, energy, artificial intelligence and so on also continues to bring value and attests to the importance of Indo-US collaborations in providing compelling solutions,” Sharma said.

Jonathan Margolis, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Space and Health, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, US Department of State, and IUSSTF US Co-Chair, said the United States and India were able to quickly mobilise, through IUSSTF, to support jointly developed innovations to fight COVID-19.

“Our people and economies both rely on science and technology to identify tools to address the pressing challenges of the current pandemic, the statement quoting Margolis said.

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