Nothing perhaps captures the spirit of learning and research at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the research arm of Sankara Nethralaya than the fact that research in genetics and molecular biology towards finding causes and solutions to ocular issues began here in right earnest 20 years ago, at a time when such genetic research especially in a non – government body was most uncommon. Started as a Cytogenics Laboratory in 1993, it evolved into a full fledged, State of the Art Genetics laboratory and was named as the ONGC Genetics Department in recognition of the large funding made by the Public Sector Undertaking. The research facility in deference to the wishes of its visionary founder Dr SS.Badrinath decided to celebrate its 20th year of operation as a day of knowledge sharing and learning and joined hands with the Sankara Nethralaya Academy the academic arm of Sankara Nethralaya to fulfill its objective.
The research institution and the academic arm of Sankara Nethralaya organized an in-depth one day symposium titled ‘SN Genetics” 2013 – A symposium on Gene Counseling and Gene Testing” at the Sri V.D. Swami Auditorium, Sankara Nethralaya main campus on 21st December 2013, with guest lectures on the entire gamut of genetic research by experts from the field. Shri Sanjay Wadhwani, Deputy General Manager and Head- Human Resource, ONGC, Chennai was the Chief Guest of the occasion. The event generated a high degree of interest among the student and teaching community with a high number of participants registering for it from both categories. The in-depth nature and educational value of the symposium can be gauged by the fact that “The Center for CME Accreditation of the Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University” awarded 10 Credit Points in Category -ii to it.
Dr Rama Rajaram, Advisor, Vision Research Foundation warmly welcomed the Chief guest of the day, dignitaries and participants and gave an interesting recap of the laboratory’s inception and evolving into a State of the Art Genetics laboratory with qualified and dedicated personnel, its path breaking research in Stem Cell, nano-biotechnology, collaborative molecular research, the good number of Patents to its credit and the support it received from funding bodies like the ICMR, DBT etc. Dr AJ. Pandian, Reader and Head of the Genetics laboratory started his address with a warm note of thanks to the ONGC for its most generous donation in aid of the Genetics laboratory; he thanked Dr SS.Badrinath for sowing the seeds and inspiring the commemorative symposium and expressed that it would be made as an annual event from next year.
Delivering the Chief Guest’s address Shri Sanjay Wadhwani had a high word of praise for Sankara Nethralaya’s community services and research; he lauded the institution for being looked upon with respect and high esteem by society at large. Drawing a parallel between Sankara Nethralaya’s pioneering research to find solutions to ophthalmic issues and the research by his own organization the ONGC, to find solutions to the nation’s increasing energy needs through exploring hydrocarbon reserves, he underlined that it is only research that leads to new thought and new direction and it is research which directly impacts the needs of the community. He underlined that the ONGC was proud of its association with an institution like the Sankara Nethralaya and its head Dr SS.Badrinath and happy to be of service to society through this association and closed his address with the observation that the institution had the good fortune of being nurtured by Dr. SS.Badrinath and receives its direction from him which makes the learning experience here most stimulating.
Thanking the Chief guest Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya, recalled the major role of Shri Subir Raha, former Chairman & MD, ONGC in the huge funding of Sankara Nethralaya’s research initiatives by the No-1 Public Sector Undertaking in the country and bringing about the association between the two institutions and the eye care camps conducted by Sankara Nethralaya in the villages surrounding Karaikal where the ONGC is active, he expressed that Sankara Nethralaya would only be too happy to reciprocate the generous gesture of ONGC by conducting free eye camps in the places of its choice. Dr SS.Badrinath highlighted the vital role of youth in moulding the future of the country and reiterated his appeal made to them recently at the NDTV awarding ceremony at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan, underlining his appeal with the poignant words of John Kennedy “Ask not what the country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. Dr SS.Badrinath had a special word of praise for Shri A. Mahalingam, Assistant Registrar, Sankara Nethralaya Academy for his role in developing the academy and organizing the symposium and Social Worker Shri Arokiaswamy for his tireless role and unstinted support in creating awareness on Sankara Nethralaya’s activities.
The day witnessed in-depth lectures by experts on the entire gamut of genetic study including genetic disorders, genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis, role of latest technology in genetics and molecular diagnosis, research on the role of genes in diabetes mellitus and ocular disorders. The highly informative and absorbing proceedings concluded with a detailed description of the special tests in terms of toxic and trace elements being carried out at the Sri Nathella Sampathu Clinical Laboratory at the Sankara Nethralaya main campus and a special felicitation to the researchers for the excellent work and their team members who played the role of internal assessors for their dedicated support and commitment in going out of their regular work to ensure the right documentation and quality control leading to the laboratory winning the highly prestigious accreditation by the NABL (National Accreditation Board for Laboratories) and renewal of the same for 4 times. Dr N. Soumitra, Lecturer at the ONGC Genetics and Molecular biology delivered the Vote of Thanks after which the jubilant participants shared their feedback and collected their participation certificates.