Indian and British research experts agree way forward on major problems

A two-day international workshop on sustainable cities and microbial infection has concluded in New Delhi. 

The workshop was jointly organised by the University of Birmingham and Panjab University (PU), in collaboration with the University of Nottingham. PU led a group of institutions around Chandigarh, known as the Chandigarh Region Innovation and Knowledge Cluster (CRIKC). 

Experts from Birmingham – one of the world’s top 100 universities – and PU, the leading university in India, met in Chandigarh and Delhi, agreeing to lay the foundation for joint research that could help to solve major problems facing both countries. 

Research specialists in the area of sustainable cities from Birmingham and Chandigarh have agreed to work together in helping cities of both countries survive the massive population wave that will hit them in the coming decades. 

Similarly, experts in infection and microbiology discussed joint research opportunities that could help tackle issues such as the causes of antimicrobial resistance. India is the world's largest consumer of antibiotics and faces significant problems with such drugs fast losing their power to heal. 

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India’s Minister of State of External Affairs General Vijay Kumar Singh attended the event’s closing session in Delhi, whilst Birmingham experts met UK Minister for Universities & Science Jo Johnson after the workshop to brief him on its highlights.  Mr Johnson is pictured above with, from left, University of Birmingham Chancellor Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, General Vijay Kumar Singh, PU Vice-Chancellor Professor Arun Kumar Grover and University of Birmingham Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Robin Mason.

Jo Johnson said: “We have a long history of working closely with India and this two-day workshop is a brilliant example of the UK’s world leading researchers collaborating and sharing expertise with Indian counterparts to find innovative solutions to issues that affect people around the world.” 

Addressing the workshop, General Vijay Kumar Singh said: “The world is shrinking - universities interacting to share knowledge is no longer a luxury to make the world better, it is a must. If we do not do that, we will be lagging behind in our duty towards humanity. 

“I envy the students of today who have opportunities to work together. We must put into effect what we have learned in our universities and create a social impact. I see a great future ahead and hope that the type of co-operation we see here today exceeds our imagination.” 

Speaking at the close of the workshop, University of Birmingham Chancellor Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea said: “The University of Birmingham has a long tradition of engagement with India stretching back over 100 years. I am proud and delighted to see this tradition continued in the excellent work carried out in partnership with CRIKC over the last two days. 

“Research into sustainable cities will be hugely important to both countries and help Indian cities survive the massive population wave that will hit them in the coming decades. Antimicrobial resistance is a problem of profound significance, as India is the world's largest consumer of antibiotics and faces significant problems with such drugs fast losing their power to heal. 

“This partnership reflects the continuing importance of universities in the UK and India working together to progress research and education opportunities between our two countries.” 

The Chairperson of CRIKC and PU Vice-Chancellor Professor Arun Kumar Grover expressed happiness that the UK-CRIKC cooperation is moving to the next level. The societies of both countries as well the students and researchers would benefit from closer collaborations between CRIKC and leading British institutions. 

Referring to the rich presence of Punjabi diaspora, Professor Grover described the UK, Canada and Australia as natural partners for PU and CRIKC institutions. He said: “The British Council initiative to promote collaboration between CRIKC institutions and UK universities, particularly in the Midlands region, has enabled us to learn best practice at international level.” 

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For more information or interviews , please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or  +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

 Notes to Editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • Panjab University (PU), based in Chandigarh, is one of the oldest universities in India and is a leading University of India in all the three recent THE World University Rankings. The previous Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmoham Singh is a PU alumnus along with four
    current cabinet ministers.
  • Panjab University co-ordinates a group of institutions around Chandigarh, known as the Chandigarh Region Innovation and Knowledge Cluster (CRIKC) and they work together to promote and sustain excellence in research, with joint and collaborative international
    research projects one of their identified aims.  PEC University of Technology and the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and  Research (PGIMER) are also part of CRIKC.
  • The research workshop followed September’s Punjab-Birmingham Women’s Cancer Genomics Workshop, in New Delhi, where key partners from India and the UK discussed establishing a cohort study to investigate the factors causing the three most common cancers in women – breast, cervical and ovarian - in the Punjab region.
  • The Punjab-Birmingham Woman Cancer Genomics project links the University of Birmingham with a number of centres of excellence in India: Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, Punjab; National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kolkata; and Public Health Foundation of India.
  • Understanding how the cancers emerge in Indian patients will help to diagnose and prevent the disease in susceptible families. Improved risk-prediction models may allow cost-effective population-based screening and early detection programmes.
  • CRIKC was conceived in 2012 to enable individuals and institutions to enhance their performance levels by forging inter-institutional collaboration and sharing the resources and facilities.