Staff Development Program (SDP) on Application of Microbial And Molecular Techniques in Biotechnology, May 19-29, 2010.

A ten day staff development programme titled 'Application of Microbial and Molecular Techniques in Biotechnology' is being conducted by the Department of Biotechnology at Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi. This programme sponsored by AICTE will focus on dissemination of knowledge in niche areas to faculty and staff of biotechnology and related disciplines from a varied list of colleges/ universities. The event was inaugurated on the 19th of May, 2010 by Senior Professor Dr. K. Dharmalingam of Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai. The Principal, Dr. S. Balakrishnan presided over the function and highlighted the importance of such programmes in improving the quality of education imparted in academia. The Convener and Head of the Department Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion.

Professor Dhramalingam centered his lecture on the use of proteomic technologies for the identification of proteins which are specifically expressed in the diseased state, more specifically referred to as biomarker discovery. A normal human cell at any given point of time has a multitude of proteins within it. Identifying the few proteins that are expressed abnormally by a diseased cell, for example a cancer cell out of the entire set is akin to picking a needle from a haystack. This complexity necessitates the separation of proteins in two dimensions, the first by virtue of charge and the second by virtue of molecular size. Once, the proteome is resolved sufficiently, the normal and the diseased cell protein profiles are compared to spot the odd one out. He further elaborated on the second genetic code that exists within the cell that enables a single gene to produce more than one protein and the technology used to identify the subtle changes in these proteins via precise measurement of molecular mass.

He later emphazised the relevance of conducting faculty development programmes to update the skills of teaching faculty. He also advised the faculty to keep track of the latest technologies in biotechnology and asked them to spend considerable amount of time on performing research in their respective laboratories.

National Seminar on Advances in Bioprocess Technology, September 17, 2011.

The Department of Biotechnology of Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi organized a National seminar titled 'Advances in Bioprocess Technology' on the 17th of September, 2011. The objective of this seminar involving lectures by experts in the field of Bioprocess Technology is to stimulate the intellect of students and faculty of biotechnology and related disciplines and to serve as motivation to specialize in the field. The event was inaugurated by the chief guest, Professor Vijayalakshmi from VIT University, Vellore. The Head of the Department, Professor. M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion. Professor Vijayalakshmi centered her lecture on the development of biological drugs or large molecular weight compounds produced by genetically modified microbial and animal cells in the pharmaceutical industry. She highlighted that purification of the drugs amounts from 50 to 80 percent of the production cost and that huge scope for improvement lies in this line referred to as down stream processing. Further, intellectual input in her specialty - pseudo affinity chromotography was provided to the audience hoping to trigger their appetite for this niche area.

Yet another illustration of the power of the microbe was given by Professor S. Meenakshi Sundaram of Anna University, Chennai. His work encompasses genetically manipulating a type of yeast called Pichia pastoris to produce an anti-depression drug and developing technology for arriving at the ideal nutrient compositon for the yeast under which it produces maximum amount of drug. He addressed the problem of supplying enough oxygen for supporting the fast growth rate of yeast in bioreactors. Strategies to lower the oxygen demand and achieve high biomass by controlled addition of nutrients were discussed.

The technology currently available in the fermentation / bioprocess industry for monitoring the process relies on taking samples at regular intervals from the bioreactor. An alternative, continuous monitoring technology by the name of bio-calorimetry was presented by Dr. S.Suryanarayanan from Centre for Leather research Institute, Chennai. This high input technology which measures the heat given out by the microbe during growth is being developed by select groups in the world. The vote of thanks was delivered by the programme coordinator Mr. R. Karthikeyan.

National Seminar on Advances in Computational Biology, March 26, 2011.

A National seminar series titled 'Advances in Computational Biology' was conducted by the Department of Biotechnology at Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi. The goal of this seminar was to provide a forum for discussion of the latest research in developing computing solutions to data intensive and computer intensive problems arising from molecular biology and related life sciences areas. The event was inaugurated on the 26th of March, 2011 by the chief quest, Dr. P. Gautham, Professor at Anna University, Chennai. The Convener and Head of the Department Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion.

Professor Gautham centered his lecture on the use of molecular simulation to predict and understand the behavior of proteins and enzymes away from ideal/ optimum micro environment conditions. Data on protein structure is available at the conditions in which the protein is crystallized. The capability of computational models to provide information on structural changes occurring in the protein at actual working conditions was highlighted in his lecture. Yet another example of the potential of computing power in understanding and predicting cellular behavior was given by Professor Mukesh Doble of IIT, Madras. His simulation of the progression of Parkinson's disease, taking into account the metabolic pathways involved, further reinforced the above concept in the audience - the host and other participating colleges.

The seminar series includes a presentation by Professor S. Krishnaswamy of Madurai Kamaraj University detailing the use of computational tools to analyse and assist modify the very fabric of life, the genetic algorithm. The seminar series effectively made people take home the message that harnessing the vast computational power to develop and solve mathematical models is the way ahead in predicting complex biological phenomena.

National Seminar on Advances in Medical Biotechnology, September 29, 2012.
     

The Department of Biotechnology organized National Seminar on 'Advances in Medical Biotechnology' on 29.09.12. The resource persons were Dr. R. Karunagaran, Professor, IIT Chennai, Dr. R. Anuradha, Associate Professor, CBT, Anna University, Chennai and Dr. S. B. Anand, Asst. Professor , Madurai Kamaraj University , Madurai. The seminar focused on role of miRNA in cancer research, stem cell technology and development of vaccine for filariasis. Almost seventy students from various institutions across the state attended the seminar.

National Seminar on Advances in Agricultural Biotechnology, March 16, 2013.

The Department of Biotechnology of Mepco Schlenk Engineering College, Sivakasi organized a National seminar titled 'Advances in Agricultural Biotechnology' on the 16th of March, 2013. The objective of this seminar involving lectures by experts in the field of Agricultural Biotechnology is to stimulate the intellect of students and faculty of biotechnology and related disciplines and to serve as motivation to specialize in the field. The event was inaugurated by the chief guest, Professor K. Veluthambi from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai. The Head of the Department, Professor M. L. Stephen Raj welcomed the gathering and set the proceedings in motion.

Professor Veluthambi centered his lecture on lessons learnt from his extensive research on genetically engineered rice for sheath blight disease resistance. The resistance is conferred by altering the genetic makeup of rice cells to produce enzymes that can degrade the cells of fungi that infect it. He further explained how he went about his discovery of 'Trans - Transcriptional Gene Silencing' phenomenon wherein the presence of a particular gene under a particular promoter at the origin of an inverted T-DNA repeat causes the silencing or inactivation of other genes under the same promoter in the repeat.

Yet another illustration of the potential of the plant cell was given by Professor Smitha Srivastava from IIT Madras, Chennai. She highlighted the fact that plants cells produce a major percentage of antibiotic and medically potent drugs and that the ability to grow plants cells as discrete suspended cells offers substantial advantage over field cultivation and tissue culture. The application of engineering principles to grow plant cells in large volume reactors to meet the market drug demands was elaborated. She further addressed the problems associated with plant cell suspension culture and how hairy root culture without growth hormones can be used.

The technology of expressing unmodified or modified viral gene products in plants which leads to interference in viral life cycle during plant virus attack was discussed by Professor R. Usha from Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai. She further elaborated on the use of virus chimeras where fragments of animal viruses are fused with plant virus coat protein ad used as vaccines. Intellectual insight offered by the eminent speakers was grasped by student participants from other colleges in the state, realizing the seminar objective which was to enable participants to understand recent advances in molecular breeding, disease diagnosis, crop protection and improvement for sustainable productivity through Genetic Engineering.

National Seminar on Applications of Proteomic Technologies in Clinical Biochemistry , February 28, 2014.

The Department of Biotechnology, Mepco Schlenk Engineering College (Autonomous), Sivakasi organized a National Seminar on “Applications of Proteomic Technologies in Clinical Biochemistry” on 28.02.14. This seminar is sponsored by Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), Department of Atomic energy (DAE), Govt. of India, Mumbai. Dr. K. Dharmalingam, Distinguished Professor in Biotechnology, Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India, Dr. V. Adaikkalam, Associate Professsor Center for Biotechnology, Anna University, Chennai and Dr. Bob Kennedy Dass, Scientist, GE Healthcare, Bangalore were resource persons. Dr. M. L. Stephen Raj, Head of the department, Biotechnology welcomed the chief guest Professor K. Dharmalingam and other resource persons. The seminar started after auspicious lighting of Kuthuvilakku.

Professor K. Dharmaingam focused his lecture on application of Proteomics in the diagnosis of ophthalmic keratitis caused by fungi. He is currently pursuing clinical research work in Aravind Eye Research Foundation, Madurai. He said that if a drug is prescribed for a fungal infection to group of patients having same infection, some respond to the drug and some may be unresponsive to the drug. He stressed that this is due to the differential expression pattern of proteins among patients. His research focused on collecting tears, cornea sample from different patients with same fungal infection and analysis of differential expression of proteins in response to fungal infection. He explained about how automated Mass Spectrometer made his research easier.

Dr. V. Adaikalam, delivered his lecture on basis of Mass spectrometer and elaborated the different types of mass analyzers available till date. He mentioned about how mass spectrometer is used to find the mass of a protein/peptide and also its sequence. He also shared his research findings on how deregulation of hormone androgen might be possibly a reason for prostate cancer based on proteome analysis using Mass Spectrometer. He used two different types of mass analyzers for understanding the proteome profile of same sample and made a comparison of data obtained and inferred the results.

Finally, Dr. Bob Kennedy Dass delivered his address on application of 2-Dimensional Gel Electrophoresis (2-DGE) in proteomic analysis. His talk is more like a practical demonstration of this method. He mentioned about the experimental steps involved in this method pointing out the possible errors that would occur at each step. He explained the possible means of troubleshooting the errors. He also cited various peer reviewed journal articles, where in 2-DGE is applied for analysis of various diseases.

National Seminar on Molecular Virology , September 27, 2014.

Department of Biotechnology organized a National seminar on ‘Molecular Virology’ on September 26th 2014. This seminar is a self-sponsored by the Institution. Dr. R. Manjunath, Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Dr. T. Jebasingh, Assistant Professor, DBT-MKU-IPLS Programme, School of Biological Sciences, Madurai kamaraj University, Madurai were resource persons for the Seminar. Students and faculty members have participated in the seminar.


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