"Indian Science Rising"is an interesting and noteworthy article (C&EN, March 20, page 12). It shows many facets of Indian science. Although several institutes and research laboratories are doing world-class research in the field of chemical sciences−including the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and Indian Institute of Science (IISc)−none of these top institutes in India has a medicinal chemistry program. Except for the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Education & Research in Punjab, the University Department of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, and the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, not many institutes have medicinal chemistry departments.
In the U.S., top universities have Schools of Pharmacy that foster research in medicinal chemistry, and in many instances, top-quality research papers come out of these schools. The top schools like IITs should open a School of Pharmacy, or the government should set up institutes on par with IITs. This will help accelerate the drug discovery process through industry-academic collaboration, create a culture of drug discovery, and produce a large pool of well-qualified scientists.
In 1973, I served as a member of a team sent to Central College in Bangalore, under the auspices of the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development, teaching chemistry to a group of high school teachers. These teachers had never been inside a chemistry laboratory. The course began every day at 7 AM with a laboratory investigation. It took three weeks for the Indian faculty to realize the pedagogical and cultural importance to the teachers of setting up their own experimental equipment. The caste system did not allow for this approach.
In this environment, S. Nageshwar eventually earned a doctorate in electrochemistry. He went on to become internationally known for his research and teaching. He made presentations at IBM and Case Western Reserve University in the U.S. and in at least seven other countries. His fervor eventually caused him to have a heart attack. At the same time, the Raman Institute was not conducting basic research but instead looking for a way to stabilize brewed coffee, sold on the street for about 3 cents per cup. Indeed, India has come a long way in the electronics and chemical industries with hard-working scholars like Nageshwar and other dedicated scientists and teachers of science.
Francis X. Sutman