The Front Page

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Blink. When you wake up, the first thing you do is open your eyes and see.

Friday, November 11th, 2016


Researchers in India and Japan have recently collaborated on a research program that will help accelerate translation of cutting-edge stem cell technology in context of human disease research in India.

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

Imagine trying to fly a kite without a tail. It swoops and loops and wiggles and finally crashes down into the ground. A kite without a tail is unstable, but add a tail at the right place, and your kite will fly steady.

Friday, July 29th, 2016

"Grrrrrrrrrr," says a chorus of young voices, followed by a burst of laughter. On the screen is a smiling man cheerily reading out a story about a lonely bear who loses his growl and finds it again. The children are from the on-campus crèche Dolna, and the man on the screen is Rob Biddulph, an award-winning children's story book writer from the UK.

Friday, July 15th, 2016

"Bzzz..." Consider the bee that keeps circling your coffee cup or glass of juice - an unsung pollinator hero helping farmers grow tons of fruit and vegetables for our consumption. You try to shoo it away, but the bee dodges your hand to land neatly on the lip of your cup. After a quick sip of the liquid inside, it's off.

Friday, March 11th, 2016


NCBS announces the 4th NCBS-Simons Annual Monsoon School.

Biology is essentially an interdisciplinary field and is in the forefront of modern physics and information sciences. The goal of the Monsoon School is two-fold.

Friday, February 5th, 2016
Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Karl Deisseroth, the D. H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University visited the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, while he was in the city as the featured speaker for the Cell Press-TNQ India Distinguished Lectureship Series 2016.

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

NCBS welcomes Thomas van Zanten, recipient of the prestigious EMBO Long-term Fellowship for postdoctoral research. Thomas joins NCBS after training at ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences, Barcelona. He got his Master's from the  University of Twente, The Netherlands, in the field of Materials Science and Technology of Polymers and received his PhD from Universitat de Barcelona, Spain, in the field of Applied Physics and Optics.

Could you tell us about your journey from Chemical engineering to the work you propose to do here?

After my training as a Chemical Engineer I moved from The Netherlands and started my graduate research in Spain. At that time, an increasing amount of indirect data suggested that the cellular membrane was segregated at the nanometer scale. However, direct observation of this nanoscale organisation required the use of optical techniques having resolutions better than conventional set-ups, which are limited by diffraction.

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013


One of the most important events on NCBS's calendar, this year's Annual Meeting will be held from the 3rd to 5th January 2013. Over the three days, fourteen of NCBS's principal investigators will speak about their recent work, focusing on different aspects of "Control in Biological Systems" - the theme for this year's talks. All seminars will be held at Dasheri (the NCBS Auditorium) in the new Southern Laboratories complex within the NCBS campus. The event also involves afternoon poster sessions where NCBS's research scholars will throw light upon their recent projects at the institute. The poster sessions will be dispersed between talks on all days.
Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
At an international Biodesign competition, called BIOMOD, hosted by Harvard University every year, NCBS fielded a team - the DNA Maestros - in November 2012 comprising 7 students from NCBS and IIT-Guwahati. Their project was a great success, winning a Silver Medal. At the competition they received tremendous feedback on the quality of their presentation from several other team mentors. Following NCBS's invitation for a repeat performance here, the DNA Maestros will regale you on Friday 21.12.12 (to make sure your world DOES in fact end with their presentation!) for about 15-20 minutes with their prize winning entry.

It's on at 4 pm, in Safeda. The world ends at ~4.20 pm - come and attend your last scientific talk!!! The speakers are a bunch of young undergraduates, do encourage them with your presence and toughen them with your best questions. See you there at 4 pm on Friday.

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The fastest carnivorous plant: a small aquatic species belonging to the bladderwort genus now holds that distinction. Scientists at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) filmed Utricularia stellaris trapping its prey and found that it was the fastest ever recorded for a carnivorous plant. The finding reaffirms that even organisms without muscle and nervous systems can evolve mechanisms that make them fast enough to outsmart prey with advanced sensorimotor capacities.

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

In March this year the Indian news media reported the onfield death, by cardiac arrest, of 28-year-old Bangalore footballer D. Venkatesh. Many young athletes die like this every year - recent victims have included stars of the European soccer scene and American basketball. In most cases, these deaths are due to an inherited form of the disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Basically, the heart muscle gets too big for its own good. Its muscular walls lose the flexibility needed for normal pumping, and when the demand for blood flow jumps too high - most commonly while exercising - the hypertrophic heart cannot keep up. And the problem is not limited to athletes. It can also strike the more sedentary among us.

Scientists at NCBS and inStem, Bangalore, are trying to understand the underlying biology of inherited cardiac hypertrophy (HCM), and also the converse disease, in which the heart muscles thin out (dilated cardiomyopathy, DCM). In each disease, the most common genetic cause is a mutation in one of the proteins that comprise the cellular machinery for muscle contraction (see figure). The net outcome of any individual mutation - either a hyper- or hypo-trophic heart - depends on whether muscle contraction is increased or decreased by the change in the mutated protein. But how that increase or decrease in efficiency is brought about remains unclear.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

One of the most prestigious awards in science, the 2012 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, was announced yesterday, and all three recipients - Jim Spudich, Ron Vale and Michael Sheetz - have strong links to NCBS, and India generally.

Jim Spudich, from Stanford, has had a long association with NCBS and is currently adjunct faculty here. Like Vale and Sheetz, Spudich's work has focused on 'molecular motors' - intracellular molecules that can harvest chemical energy to generate force. Spudich's group has been at the forefront of discovering how the motors that power muscle and other intracellular movements -myosins- do their jobs. In particular, his laboratory has developed in vitro assays that measure the speed and force produced by myosins -and are exemplars of experimental elegance. The assays allow researchers to determine the movements and forces produced by single myosin molecules. At inStem, Spudich is now leading a team investigating the role of myosin and other proteins in inherited cardiomyopathies, visiting inStem/NCBS three to four times per year.

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

The world's largest population of the endangered Asian elephant Elephas maximus occurs in one of the world's most densely populated and poorest regions, India. The ever-increasing human population exerts tremendous pressure on the natural resources including the forests in which these giants live. Increasingly, the competition for land and food has driven the two mega-vegetarians into conflict. Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is fast emerging as the greatest threat to the conservation of our 'National Heritage Animal' in the 21st century, far greater than poaching.

Although the elephant is one of the most well known, loved and revered animals in this country, we are still grappling to address many an important issue related to its conservation, including HEC. We lack rigorous scientific studies into the behaviour of these highly social animals, and thus we are unable how to predict how they might engage with their habitat - and with us. Do they always just 'follow the herd' - or do these long-lived, intelligent animals make individual decisions? Knowing the answers to these questions is fundamental to informed management.

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

A cut finger calls into action a crew of repair cells - macrophages - that crawl amoeba-like towards the wound. To drag itself forward a macrophage repeatedly anchors, then detaches, its advancing membranous fringe, to and from, the surrounding matrix. This feat is just one of many activities made possible by the cell's ability to enrich selected areas of its outer membrane with specialized proteins. For example, the macrophage's moving fringe is enriched in the protein integrin, which can link the membrane to the matrix. How such localized enrichment occurs within the broad expanse of the cell's membrane has remained unclear. Now however a team of researchers at the National Centre for Biological Science and the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore, believe they have the answer. In a recent paper in the journal Cell (Gowrishankar et al., 2012) they have proposed, and tested, a model that, unlike previous models, explains how enrichment could be an active process, and thus controllable by the cell.

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