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Questions In A Petri Dish

The old Indo-Chinese rivalry is coursing through the Indian scientific establishment ever since China’s Tu Youyou bagged the Nobel for medicine earlier this month. After her recognition for discovering the anti-malar­ial artemisinin, there’s a growing sense that the Nobel committee may have overlooked the work of Indian scientists in the same field. Letters are flying thick and fast, as China’s first Nobel for science has become an occasion for Indian scientists to draw attention to their own work on the anti-malarial drug and draw credit they rarely get.

Some scientists even argue that malarial research in India rivals Chinese achievements on “scientific principles”—in the sense that it was done according to globally accepted scientific practice in methodology and publication. Others say Tu’s work was based on traditional knowledge so no single person can be credited for it. Implicit in this is the charge that China has been making a stronger case for its researchers in world fora, pushing in the right places to win them awards, while Indian efforts remain unknown.

R.S. Thakur, 84, a scientist who worked on artemisinin in the government’s labs in the 1980s, believes this work deserves at least as much acknowledgement from the Nobel committee as Tu’s. He says Tu’s discovery was during the ‘Cultural Revolution’, and true to that period, the work was published only in China and remained isolated from international peer review and criticism. “China’s isolation at that time raises questions on the research’s scientific merit. One wonders if certain practices of Tu—such as testing the initial compound on herself—pass the Nobel standards for ethics,” says Dr Thakur, who retired as a director of the Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow…..

Source: http://www.outlookindia.com/article/questions-in-a-petri-dish/295745

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Written by csirindia

November 2, 2015 at 9:15 am

Posted in CIMAP

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