Category Archives: Science & Technology

Kolkata hosts conference and live workshop on colorectal diseases


The next few days the city will witness a series of brain storming session on the updates, insights and latest treatment modalities on colorectal diseases. Colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists, radiologists, and oncologists from across the globe have already arrived in Kolkata to exchange knowledge and through hands-on workshop and conference. Organised by CK Birla Hospitals – CMRI, Gastrocon was flagged off on Friday.

“We are increasingly seeing diseases that were relatively uncommon in the past. Colorectal diseases are one such spectrum, where doctors have had to evolve in their knowledge to cope with increasing demands. This conference attempts to gather doctors from different disciplines under one roof to try and provide a holistic approach to colorectal diseases,” said Dr. Sanjay De Bakshi, Senior Consultant.

The third most common malignancy across the world is colon cancer. It accounts for nearly 1.4 million new cases and 6, 94,000 deaths per year. The high incidence rate is possibly due to the modern lifestyle and unhealthy diet. Through Gastrocon the hospitals also aims to create awareness about the disease available diagnostic and treatment options.

“As we are a research oriented institute we are continuously deliberating and coming out with the best possible solutions for our patients. With Gastrocon, we aim to create a common platform of knowledge sharing between the medical community and our patients where we intend to spread awareness and in turn educate them on how to deal with all kinds of colorectal diseases,” said Uttam Bose, CEO. CK Birla Hospitals – CMRI.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Sumati Yengkhom /TNN / November 17th, 2017

IIT Kharagpur led NDL India and UNESCO join hands through Globalization of Digital Library Design

Kolkata :

In the recently concluded international workshop jointly held by UNESCO and the National Digital Library of India (NDLI) under the leadership of IIT Kharagpur, NDLI announced to go global through international collaborations with the world’s top digital libraries keeping up to its motto of ‘Open and Inclusive’.

The Workshop deliberated on the state-of- the-art technology, practices, and policies as internationally accepted and available for digital library design. About 200 domain experts from India and abroad participated in the Workshop including representatives from Microsoft Research, Google and Taylor & Francis.

UNESCO, the event co-organizer collaborated with NDLI to promote the digital libraries as a very effective avenue to realize universal open access of the learning contents. It has promised to co-ordinate digital library development, resource sharing activities of the SAARC countries. Integration of UNESCO South Asia publications has been taken up as the first step towards that.

“While getting international content is one aspect of NDLI, the other focus for NDLI is being inclusive and open. Inclusive will be in terms of education, languages and disciplines. It is open in every respect whether data, technology or content,” said P P Das who is the in-charge of NDLI.

NDLI is mulling over possibilities of collaborations with Trove and DigitalNZ in terms of sharing of resources and software components. NDLI is already collaborating with Europeana Foundation. Individual experts in user data analytics, knowledge graph mining, linked data have shown keen interest in imbing best research practices into NDLI development. Some of the other digital libraries which expressed interest in collaboration with NDLI are Tainacan Project (Brazil), National Library of The Netherlands, National Library of South Africa, and National Library of Nepal.

Under the NDLI project, IIT Kharagpur has also initiated discussion with Microsoft Academic on sharing scholarly publishing knowledge graph.

“NDLI research and development team will soon focus on implementing technical outcomes of the workshop in terms of data aggregation framework, indexing infrastructure and service based models for data sharing. The developments in academic search engines like Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic also provide cues to efficiently organize scholarly publication in NDLI,” said Plaban Kumar Bhowmick, Program Co-Chair of the workshop.

K K Sharma, secretary, MHRD and R. Subrahmanyam, additional secretary, MHRD who were present on the occasion opined that by 2030 the union ministry is targeting to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education to 30 per cent from the present 24 per cent. To achieve this goal, a combination of digital technology with the educational resources is the ideal pathway to ensure that all of India can learn, share and grow.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News> Schools & Colleges / by Somdatta Bose / TNN / November 07th, 2017

Skin cancer hope from Calcutta-born biologist

Aishwarya Kundu

New Delhi:

Cancer biologist Aishwarya Kundu has chemically tweaked a natural compound found in broccoli, cabbages and cauliflowers to design a novel molecule that shows promise as a treatment for skin cancer resistant to standard therapy.

The California-based researcher and her colleagues have shown through laboratory studies that their designer compound is about 20 times more potent in killing skin cancer cells than the parent compound extracted from the vegetables: indole-3 carbinol (I3C).

Scientists have known for nearly 30 years that broccoli and the other so-called cruciferous vegetables contain I3C, which has anti-cancer properties. Several research teams working independently have since the late 1980s shown that I3C suppresses breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and leukaemia cells grown in laboratory petri dishes.

The compound, packaged into tablets, has even been sold as a “health supplement”.

“But the exact way it works in different kinds of cancers is not known. Nor are its direct targets known, without which a compound cannot be given the status of a drug,” said Kundu, who was born in Calcutta and studied at Calcutta Girls’ High School before moving to Manipal and then to the US for higher studies.

Kundu’s research at the University of California, Berkeley, is the first to establish that I3C can block two specific biological pathways -BRAF and PTEN – that drive the growth of skin cancer. While the current drugs against skin cancer target the BRAF pathway, I3C promises a second alternative route of attack.

The researchers have added a chemical structure to the I3C compound to create a novel molecule that shows the same anti-cancer effect at a concentration 20 times lower than the parent compound.

“This is a specially valuable aspect that the drug industry looks for – compounds that are effective at very low concentrations,” Kundu told The Telegraph over the phone. The novel molecule also blocks a third biological pathway: Wnt.

Skin cancer cells use the Wnt pathway as an “escape route” to develop resistance to the standard drugs. Most of these drugs target the BRAF pathway, which is the primary “driver” in 70 per cent of skin cancer patients.

“Since our novel compound blocks the Wnt escape route, we hope it will be more effective than BRAF blockers alone. It can be used in combination with BRAF blockers to curb the risk of resistance,” Kundu said.

“It may also hold out hope for the 30 per cent of patients who don’t carry the BRAF mutation in their tumours and, currently, have limited treatment options. This market alone runs into billions of dollars.”

The California researchers’ studies show that both I3C and the new compound can independently shrink skin tumours in mice. Kundu and her colleagues are now hoping to conduct the required animal studies before the new molecule can be assessed in human clinical trials.

If all goes well, Kundu speculates, human trials could start within two years.

source: / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Home> India / by G.S.Mudur / October 27th, 2017

Malaria App

Two aspiring engineers have developed an app-based system to detect malaria in a blood sample in less than a minute.

The detection involves a multi-step process that starts with the collection of a person’s blood sample. The slide containing the blood sample has to be inserted into a foldscope – a small microscope made of folded paper and a microlens.

The foldscope was developed by Manu Prakash, who teaches bioengineering at Stanford University.

Prakash’s lab sent two prototypes to the Calcutta researchers. The foldscope then has to be fitted to a smartphone, whose camera helps magnify the sample. The magnified image is then transported to a server, where using an algorithm, malaria parasites, if any, are detected in less than a minute. The diagnosis is relayed back to the phone user and the findings archived.

Nilanjan Daw and Debapriya Paul, BTech final-year students of computer science and engineering at the Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM), Salt Lake, developed the system with the help of their teacher Nilanjana Dutta Roy and IIEST professor Arindam Biswas.

Picture by Anup Bhattacharya

source: / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / Thursday – October 19th, 2017

Software for tiger watch in Buxa

Alipurduar :

The Union ministry of environment and forests has launched a software to ensure better monitoring of tigers that will be introduced in the Buxa Tiger Reserve by April.

The software has been made in collaboration with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for all tiger reserves in the country.

“MSTrIPES”, a hi-tech monitoring system, would be introduced in Buxa Tiger Reserve by April and each beat officer will get an Android phone with the software inbuilt that will help to monitor tigers in the habitat, Ujjal Ghosh, the field director of the BTR, said.

There are 42 beat offices in Buxa with one officer each.

MSTrIPES is a GPS-based software that will provide patrolling protocols and record wildlife crimes.

The software will also handle ecological monitoring and store data related to tiger monitoring.

Ghosh said: “The forest guards will have to fill in information about the area they patrolled and number of tigers spotted daily in the Android phones. This information will be passed by the beat officer to the forest range officer who will forward the same to the division officer, followed by the state government. The state will then pass on the information to the Tiger Control Cell of WII in Dehradun. Through this system, there will be a statistical analysis of data regarding protection and monitoring of the tigers.”

According to a forest officer, the BTR is important to the NTCA because ‘Tiger Augmentation Programme’ would be held here this year.

source: / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> North Bengal> Story / by Our Correspondent / Thursday – February 23rd, 2017

Doctor far-off, care close by – Satellite health unit set up at remote Rimbick

A patient being treated at the medical unit at Rimbick. Telegraph picture

Darjeeling :

An idea that bagged an award from the Acadèmia de Ciències Mèdiques, a forum of healthcare professionals in Barcelona, Spain, has blossomed into a fruitful project that is saving human lives in one of the farthest corners of Darjeeling district in Rimbick.

Plaban Das, a medical director of Planter’s Hospital in Darjeeling, during his advanced medical studies at La Santpau hospital in Barcelona, had through his Spanish friends proposed an idea in 2009 to create a satellite healthcare unit in remote areas.

The idea we bagged the Beques de Cooperacio Academia del Mon award that carried a prize money of 200 Euros in 2009.

“Anna Goma, a Spanish doctor, has presented the idea to the academy and it bagged the first prize. It was just an idea then and wanted to replicate the same in Rimbick, where I had conducted a medical camp in 2007,” said Das.

He mulled over the idea for long and once social media, more particularly WhatsApp, became common among people, he started working on the project.

“The basic idea was to ensure the people of Rimbick and its surrounding areas quick medical intervention during emergencies so that lives could be saved,” said Das.

Rimbick is about 90km from Darjeeling and one has to trek 6-7km further to reach the villages of Srikhola and Daragoan.

“With the help of local people, we formed a 12-member committee and set up the Rimbick Singalila Health Care Centre, a no-loss-no-profit venture which was inaugurated on September 13, 2015,” said Das.

Das made a personal contribution of Rs 2.5 lakh, along with the prize money of 100 Euros (the remaining 100 Euros was used in a project in Nigeria), while local people contributed around Rs 1 lakh. “Dr Hem Gosai, who practices in London but is from Darjeeling, later contributed Rs 1 lakh when he heard about the project,” said Das.

Two nurses, one para-medic and two technicians run the two-bedded centre at Rimbick with ECG, X-ray machine, nebuliser, oxygen cylinder and lab equipment.

“Whenever there is an emergency, the nurses contact me through WhatsApp. Primary tests are done there and they send the report on Whatsapp to me. Then I prescribe preliminary treatment right away, which is important in cases like brain stroke and heart attacks,” said Das.

Prakash Gurung, GTA Sabha member of the area, has also donated an ambulance to the centre.

In fact, this year, the centre observed a Stroke Survival Day, where five patient who had become paralytic and fully recovered because of immediate medical intervention were felicitated.

Shiva Rai, a hotelier, said: “I would not have been speaking to you had the centre not been there. I had gone to bed normally but in the morning, I found that my hands were paralytic and my face slanted. I could recover fully because of immediate medical intervention.

Binod Kumar Rai, a teacher of Rimbick Higher Secondary School, said: “I had a bee sting followed by fever and diarrhea. I recovered immediately. Importantly, my relative who had a stroke also recovered well.”

The centre needs Rs 30,000 on an average a month to function. “They charge a minimum amount. If we were to go and meet Dr Das in Darjeeling we need to spend anything between Rs 2000 to Rs 3000. But treatment is much cheaper and efficient at the Rimbick centre,” said Binod.

Das, along with other doctors visit the centre, once a month. A group of doctors from Zion Hospital in Nagaland held a free medical camp on February 15 there.

“People from Nepal also visit the centre now,” said Das.

Apart from the Spanish doctor, Anna, Martha Gallego, a nurse, Pau Casan Bonet, a pianist, and Begonya Crespo Bosque held a musical event in Barcelona to support the centre.

A similar project is being worked out for Badamtam tea garden, about 20km from Darjeeling.

source: / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Front Page> North Bengal> Story / by Vivek Chhetri / Monday- February 20th, 2017

Film on messiah of pavements to hit Kolkata screen tomorrow

Kolkata :

At 87, this doctor bends over to listen to heartbeats. He bends slightly more these days, but there is otherwise no sign of fatigue on his weather-beaten face. You may have not been lucky to come across Jack Preger — the healer on Kolkata pavements as, he is popularly called — at work, but here’s a film that captures the journey of the British farmer-turned-doctor who has been serving destitutes on Kolkata streets since the 70s.

The film, ‘Doctor Jack’, directed by French filmmaker Benoit Lange, is an 83-minute film that has already won a coveted international award and is likely to enter some more competitions this year.

It will be screened by Alliance Francaise for a select audience on Thursday and will open for public screening at a popular south Kolkata movie hall the next day.

The French/Swiss film released in those two countries in 2016 and won in the documentary section of the prestigious Solothurn Film Festival, Switzerland. Camerawork by renowned European cinematographer Camille Cottagnoud has received critical acclaim worldwide. The filmmaker has donated the entire amount of 20,000 Swiss Franc to Preger’s organization, Calcutta Rescue.

Born in 1930 in Manchester, Preger’s life has been extraordinary. After graduating from Oxford University with economics and political science, he took up a career in hill farming. It was during this time that he realised that he had a different call in life and that he should spend the rest of his life trying to take medical benefit to the poor who cannot afford structured treatment.

After training as a surgeon at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Preger decided to leave the first world for good and go to Bangladesh to treat war refugees.

Thereafter, he reached Kolkata and started his clinic on the pavements of Middleton Row. For years, he ran this clinic before Calcutta Rescue spread its wings crisscrossing pavements of the city.

“It took me four years to make the film, such is the mystery of the man. Where does he get so much strength from? I call him the Don Quixote of modern times — a farmer metamorphosing into a messiah. What an exceptional destiny,” said Lange.

Preger, however, in his characteristic humour explained, “Sometimes you don’t choose life…life chooses you.”

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey / TNN / February 16th, 2017

Air to water device produces purer drinking water

Kolkata :

The technical report of the functioning of the air to drinking water converting machine have been submitted by state Public Health Engineering department engineers.

Results from the Central Testing Laboratory have shown that the quality of water that is produced by the machine is many times purer and better than the typical water purifier devices.

The Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) authorities are now planning to install a few such machines in different parts of New Town.

“A sample of water produced from the device was sent to the Central testing Laboratory through PHE engineers to find out how pure the water is. The water has been found to have purer quality than the normal water purifying devices. We are planning to install some such devices in Eco Park and other commercial spots,” said a Hidco official, adding that plans are on to install the device at the Mother’s Wax Museum canteen on a trial basis and a few other places like gate No.3 of Eco Park, police outposts, traffic signal kiosks and places inside Eco Park in phases.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Suman Chakraborti / TNN / February 13th, 2017

Diversity makes US great, says Nasa scientist from Kolkata

Goutam Chattopadhyay.

Kolkata :

A jet propulsion scientist at Nasa who grew up in the suburbs of Kolkata believes America owes much of its success to immigrants.

“The driving force of America is the assimilation of people from all over the world; people who are talented and have used the opportunities to drive innovation. That is what makes America great,” said Goutam Chattopadhyay, who migrated to the ‘land of opportunities’ in 1992 and lived his dreams.

Growing up in utter poverty in Konnagar, Chattopadhyay was not allowed to sit in a Class III exam as his school fee (Rs 8) hadn’t been paid. Still, he finished second in class that year, the only time he did so as he topped his class right up to his engineering degree in Electronics & Telecommunication from BE College, Shibpur. He had even cracked IIT entrance exam but could not study since his family could not afford it.

From BE College, Chattopadhyay went to TIFR in 1987. That’s when his horizon widened. “Till then, I wasn’t sure what to do other than take up a job to support my family,” the senior scientist recounted. As a design engineer at the premier institute, he was part of the team that designed the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope (GMRT). Chattopadhyay designed the Local Oscillator System that converts the signal that comes from the sky into lower frequency signal that is easier to process.

In 1992, he went to the US to pursue higher studies, doing his masters at the University of Virginia and then PhD at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). There, he was in the group that developed Terahertz that will come into commercial telephony when 5G is rolled out.

On completion of the PhD in 1999, he got a call from Nasa. “Looking back, it has been an amazing journey and it has been possible because the US has been welcoming. I don’t think Indian students will be affected by what is happening right now. These are short-term bumps. I hope this will not stop the flow of talent to the US,” he said.

Chattopadhyay is currently working on a project that could help President Donald Trump overcome some of the fears on homeland security. His team is using Terahertz to do a remote pat-down of suspects. A project for the department of Homeland security, it is a device that allows law enforcement agencies to remotely scan a person to detect guns or bombs hidden under the jacket. “It can work at a 30-40 metre distance and be of use in airports and stations,” he explained.

Talking of airports, Chattopadhyay missed the crowds waiting at LA airport to welcome immigrants to protest against Trump’s ban on seven Muslim-majority countries as a judge in Seattle had put a stay on the executive order a day before he took his flight to India. Though he wasn’t worried about taking this trip as there are no restrictions on travel from India, fellow colleagues in Nasa who hail from the countries under the scanner won’t risk a visit ‘home’ anytime soon.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / TNN / February 09th, 2017

Now, Rs 5 wonder sachet to help you save teeth, bone


. Scientists have developed an inexpensive kit to test the fluorosis level in the body

. The fluoride level detection kit that will soon be available in shampoo-like sachet

Kolkata :

Scientists at a top-notch research institute in Durgapur have developed an easy-to-use, inexpensive kit to test the fluorosis level in the body so that one can take corrective measures before it causes teeth and bone deformity.

A team led by CSIR-CMERI scientist (surface engineering and tribology division) Dr Priyabrata Banerjee has developed the fluoride level detection kit that will soon be available in shampoo-like sachet. The sachets, to be priced around Rs 5 each, will contain two kits comprising two vials and a strip of colour-coded paper. While one vial will be empty, the other will contain a chemo-sensor liquid.

“All that a person has to do is spit into the empty vial, then pour the chemo sensor into it, close the vial and shake it vigorously. There will be an instant colour change, indicating the level of fluorosis in the body. If it is orange, it will indicate unsafe level of more than 1.5 ppm. Yellow indicates safe level of less than 1.5 ppm. The vial can be placed against the colour coded strip to match the colour and the fluorosis level it indicates,” Banerjee pointed out.

The Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) is a leading mechanical engineering R&D institute under the aegis of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) that has developed technologies to provide societal solutions.The folurosis level detection kit is one such that has already been provisionally patented and technology tranferred to small scale industry for commercial production. The institute showcased this and other technologies at the 31st Indian Engineering Congress organised by the Institute of Engineers (India) in Kolkata recently.

“We expect the kits to be available in health stores in rural Bengal, particularly villages in Purulia, Bankura and Birbhum where fluorosis is a problem,” said Banerjee, who is the key inventor. Fluorosis can be dental, skele tal or non-skeletal and cause motteled teeth or deformity of limbs.

Banerjee’s team has also developed a chemo sensor station costing around Rs 2,000 each that will be placed at the primary health centres in fluorosis-affected districts where people can get the samples electronically verified.

“The salivary fluoride level detection kit is the latest technology that our scientists have come up with. The patent for this product was filed on November18,” said CSIR-CMERI director Harish Hirani.

Another technology that the R&D institute demonstrated was a smart card operated and pluggable energy meter through which one can instantly measure the energy level of an electrical installation using a smart phone. “One only needs to have internet connectivity or bluetooth to link a smart energy meter with a smartphone,” said a scientist.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Suman Chakraborti / TNN / December 20th, 2016