The ONGC Genetics department at the Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Ophthalmology, the research arm of Sankara Nethralaya conducted the 4th Genetics Symposium at the Sri V D Swami Auditorium on February 10, 2017 on the critical and highly relevant area ‘Genetic Testing and diagnosis of diseases’. The meeting was addressed by leading academicians, scientists, geneticists from all over India. The growing significance of molecular genetics and cyto-genetics in diagnosis as well as management of various cancers were discussed in detail at the meet.
Welcoming the gathering Dr N Soumitra, Associate Professor at the Sankara Nethralaya ONGC Department of Genetics observed that the symposia being held is the fourth in a row of such meets, the first one being held in commemoration of the 20th year of the department. She underlined that the purpose of these meets is to help in better diagnosis, counselling and alleviation of suffering through a better understanding of genetics.
Dr Ronnie George, Director – Research, Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology gave an interesting account on the research activities in the areas of basic and clinical sciences being carried out at Sankara Nethralaya and their impact, he underlined, that the genetics department had grown from research on karyotyping, molecular methods to next gen sequencing. He proudly announced that the department had several firsts to its credit, including path breaking research on Leber’s congenital amaurosis that included tests on RPE65 gene modules to identify therapy for Retinitis Pigmentosa. The first gene for angle closure glaucoma a very important discovery in the treatment of the disease was made by a large consortium of which Sankara Nethralaya was a part he added.
Dr S Krishnakumar, Deputy Director – Research, introduced the Chief Guest Dr Nallasivam Palanisamy, Associate Scientist, Department of Urology, Venkutti Urology Institute, Henry Ford Health System, Associate Professor (Adjunct), Michigan Centre for Translational Pathology, with a Ph.D in Genetics from University of Madras. He added that the distinguished Chief Guest had won many honours including the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Grant awards, by National Cancer Institute; He highlighted that the distinguished Chief Guest is a member of several prestigious bodies like the American Society of Human Genetics and Cancer Genetics and had over 100 publications to his credit and three Patents granted with a H index of 47.
Delivering the plenary lecture, the Chief Guest started on a cautious note that technology currently available to understand genome complexities was limited and thus any study on genomes will raise more questions than it can answer. Dr Nallasivam Palanisamy gave an interesting account on genetic testing for health care including predictive and pre-symptomatic, pharmaco genetic testing, prenatal and carrier testing and its application status. He spoke in detail on advancing precision medicine for prostate cancer through genomics, the current status of cancer therapy, mutations, melanoma, mitochondrial disorders, progress in cytogenetics that were special fields of interest in his study.
The expert on Genetics observed that while leveraging on techniques on genome analysis like next gen sequencing technology, Gene regulation, transcriptome sequencing were aimed at yielding results for translational therapy, deeper study and research were necessary in the field of genetic engineering.
The symposium saw several eminent speakers from all over India making in-depth lectures on a wide range of topics including non-invasive Cell free DNA testing in Fetal Medicine & Clinical Oncology, Genetic testing in clinic: The Indian Milieu, Whole genome sequence of bacteria – experiences with human clinical isolates of pseudomonas aeruginosa and genetics in pediatric neurology and solid tumour diagnostics going molecular.
It was a day of in-depth learning and knowledge acquisition and left a deep impact on the attendees.