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Free, open discussions vital, says Nobel laureate

Special Correspondent

Anders Liljas seeks more stress on research in basic science

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The lack of an eco-system for nurturing informal scholarly collaboration and free-wheeling dialogues could be the reason India has produced so few Nobel laureates, according to Anders Liljas, eminent scientist in the field of structural biology and a member of the Nobel Prize Committee for 10 years.

Addressing researchers and faculty members at the Karyavattom campus of the University of Kerala here on Thursday, Prof. Liljas stressed the need for free and open discussions. “Such things happen in places such as a canteen over a cup of coffee,” he said.

Prof. Liljas is in the city on a six-day visit under the Erudite Programme of the State government.

Prof. Liljas laid emphasis on the need to encourage research in basic sciences. He felt that while research in technology and applied sciences might produce quick results, it was basic science research that had the capability to produce solutions for more worthy problems of society.

He recalled that Watson & Crick's work on DNA structure was at one time considered insignificant and later transformed the whole field of biology.

Prof. Liljas felt that epi-genetics was a similar area that seemed to be emerging in significance. He recalled his association with Kerala-born G.N. Ramachandran, the eminent scientist who determined the structure of the collagen molecule.

Earlier, he was received at the Centre for Bioinformatics by Pawan K. Dhar and Achuthsankar S. Nair and students. Prof. Liljas listened to the work of researchers of the Centre for Bioinformatics and offered his comments and suggestions. The professor, who is also a musician, said he was looking forward to the Carnatic music concert by Rama Varma at the Kowdiar Palace on Friday. He also evinced interest in the history and culture of Kerala. On Friday, he is scheduled to deliver a public lecture on ‘Development of Structural Biology seen through Nobel Prizes' at the seminar hall in the Department of Botany at the Karyavattom North Campus.

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