The origin of the department of Microbiology & Cell Biology (MCB) traces to the Pharmacology Laboratory and the Fermentation Technology Laboratory, both established in the early 1940’s, which were amalgamated in 1968. Over the decades, MCB department has continuously evolved, kept pace with the cutting edge research tools in varied areas of microbiology and cell biology, often taking up research problems that are relevant to society. Some areas where we have a long tradition of excellence are (i) microbial biology including work on pathogens, (ii) regulation of gene expression, (iii) cancer biology, (iv) vaccine/drug development for infectious diseases and (v) plant biology. This progressive approach, temper for high-quality research and commitment to teaching has arguably positioned us among the best in the nation for research in microbiology and cell biology. We have recently showcased our work in an International conference that marked 75 years of our pioneering research and training efforts. Our key findings on biology of host responses to bacterial (Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Salmonella sp. other bacteria) and fungal pathogens (Candida albicans), on antimicrobials, antibiotics, antivirals (Hepatitis C) and work on therapeutics reflect our search for new molecules and vaccines for addressing issues of serious global and national concern. Additionally our exemplary fundamental work on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that control gene expression using several prokaryotic and eukaryotic models is well recognized. Employing diverse model systems such as human cells, mouse, C. elegans and plants e.g., Arabidopsis thaliana, rice and tomato, we are making noteworthy inroads in the understanding of cell division, cell fate determination, cellular/ organellar trafficking, complex issues of organ specification, function and physiology that are important for normal development in animal and plant models. These efforts expand our knowledge of cancer, diabetes and other life style related human diseases and give a deeper insight on the genetic and epigenetic processes during plant development that have future implications on food security.
The core strength of our department is our students who join our portals with prior excellent academic records acquired from all over the country. At MCB they pursue rigorous programs leading to PhD and Integrated PhD degrees. We also proudly mentor IISc undergraduate students pursuing BSc (Research) degree. MCB department offers courses on Microbiology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Immunology, Virology, Genetic Engineering, Developmental Biology, Molecular Oncology and Electron Microscopy. We also host and mentor a large number of post-doctoral fellows and young investigators towards an independent career.
The activities of our department are consistently supported by research funding, secured by our faculty members, that comes from various national agencies (DST, DBT, ICMR, CSIR, UGC, DAE etc.), international agencies (European Union, Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance, RCUK etc.) and to some extent from industries.
Our ingenuity in embracing newer areas of science and encouraging collaborative research locally and globally contributes to making MCB a vibrant and exciting place to work in and grow. Thus, it is no surprise that many of our students and postdoctoral fellows go on to become leading investigators in institutions of repute within India and abroad.
Prof. K. Somasundaram
(Chair, Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology)