India research agency transitions to new director

March / April 2013 | Volume 12, Issue 2

Dr. K. VijayRaghavan and Dr. Maharaj K. Bhan seated at a banquet table shaking hands
Photo courtesy of the Indian Council
of Medical Research

India's new biotechnology chief, Dr. K.
VijayRaghavan (left), is taking over from
Dr. Maharaj K. Bhan.

A changing of the guard is under way at one of India's leading scientific research agencies, with the departure of Dr. Maharaj K. Bhan after seven years leading the government's Department of Biotechnology. He encouraged much fruitful collaboration with the NIH, including Fogarty, producing discoveries in neuroscience, low-cost medical technologies and other biomedical research topics of high priority.

"Dr. Bhan has been a driving force nurturing productive relationships among researchers in our countries," said Fogarty Director Dr. Roger I. Glass, who collaborated with Bhan for more than 20 years on rotavirus studies. "Such relationships are invaluable as we strive toward the common goal of understanding and combating disease. We would not have achieved as much as we have without his leadership."

Taking over the top job is Dr. K. VijayRaghavan, previously director of a leading Indian basic research organization, the National Center for Biological Sciences, where he encouraged the study of developmental biology, genetics and neurogenetics, among other fields.

The Indian government recently recognized both men for their contributions to the country, giving Bhan the Padma Bhushan award and VijayRaghavan the Padma Shri award.

Among the changes Bhan initiated at the agency were broadening the focus from biology to include many different disciplines, such as engineering, agriculture and product development, and encouraging innovative collaborations. Trained as a pediatrician, Bhan has advocated for many national policy changes, for instance to promote oral rehydration therapy, micronutrient supplementation and greater vaccine coverage.

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