The second meeting of the Indo-U.S. joint working
group (JWG) was held recently at Lawton Chiles International (Stone) House on campus. The meeting’s theme was Global Partnerships: Expansion of Collaborative Vision Research. Attendees included Dr. Roger Glass, director of the Fogarty International Center; Dr. Maharaj K. Bhan, India’s secretary of the department of biotechnology,
Ministry of Science and Technology; Dr. Leon Ellwein, JWG secretary/convener and past associate director for applications of vision research at NEI; and Dr. Dorairaj Balasubramanian,
director of research at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute and initiator of the Indo-U.S. collaborative
The JWG grew out of two workshops in 2005 attended by leaders in eye and vision research from the United States and India. Workshop participants identified core research areas.
In August 2005, NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni and Bhan signed a U.S.-India statement of intent for collaboration on expansion of vision research. Since then, researchers from both countries have begun partnerships in the core areas.
NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving emphasized the importance of transparency of the research planning process in both countries so investigators
can collaborate successfully. “Imagine what creative scientists in two major countries of the world can accomplish,” he said.
Dr. Loré Anne McNicol, director of NEI’s Division
of Extramural Research, gave a presentation on an existing Indo-U.S. collaborative trial on corneal ulcers. She explained that the agreement has improved material transfer and joint grant application opportunities.
Dr. Sheldon Miller, NEI scientific director, spoke on NEI’s Overseas Scholars Program and the NIH Global Health Research Initiative Program. Under these programs, researchers from low-to-mid-income countries can be trained at NIH for 2 or more years and then return home to broaden their research. This increases the pool of overseas researchers and helps develop research infrastructure in the home countries. A meeting is planned to sign an agreement with India for several post-doctoral fellows to conduct research in the NEI intramural program.
The JWG discussed a number of pending and potential joint Indo-U.S. research applications. The group plans to continue to facilitate new joint research projects through future meetings, web site content and international workshops. Information on the agreement can be found at www.nei.nih.gov.