Monday, August 28, 2017

How to help your employees ride the new wave of learning - You have to first take cognisance of four major disruptive trends in knowledge management

Your employees don’t want one-size-fits-all training programmes anymore. They also do not want to deal with clunky interfaces that characterise many learning management systems (LMSs). So, how can you respond, and ensure your workforce — your biggest asset — gets all the requisite tools for enhancing its skillsets, in order to boost its productivity, and stay motivated? Well, to begin with, we must recognise the winds of change blowing across the corporate learning landscape today.
As attrition levels rise across the board, employees — particularly the millennials — are increasingly seeking more opportunities in-house to acquire new skills at work, for greater career mobility. And, organisations that fail to foster an engaging learning environment would find it difficult in the future to retain and attract high-quality talent. Professionals today absorb knowledge in a more dynamic and self-directed way than ever before.
Unlike their predecessors, they simply don’t have the patience or time to attend workshops. Accordingly, the emphasis and orientation of corporate learning content modules have undergone a sea change over the last decade, with many companies significantly reducing their reliance on instructor-led training (ILT).
Instead, collaborative, virtual and on-the-job learning modules have become more popular. Here are the four major disruptive trends in learning management you need to keep in mind while designing and developing the next-generation knowledge management framework for your organisation:
Adaptive learning
Customise your learning programmes for each individual employee, wherein his/ her skill-building path is chalked out based on their interaction with the different components of learning modules. In short, your learning management systems must evolve into dynamic learner-centric platforms that provision “pull”-based learning rather than “push”-based, and empower individuals to tailor and reconfigure the way they deem fit.
Cognitive systems
Given the plethora of content now available, you need to make your LMS “intelligent” or “smart”.
Intelligent LMS has an inbuilt component that enables recommendation and provision of the right material at the right time. Such next-gen platforms also should be able to integrate seemingly disparate small learning pieces in a cohesive manner.
LMSs, in their new avatar, will include compelling content aggregation and curation functionalities that source and assimilate disparate content types to deliver an integrated user experience. Incorporation of these features will reposition LMSs as compelling learning experience platforms, by allowing learners to search, find, recommend, sort, share, and comment on different modules in a single place.
Bite-sized learning
In tandem, you should actively consider ways of responding to employees’ growing desire for bite-sized learning that can be easily consumed on the go.
One way of addressing this demand is to create “microlearning” modules through mobile-first design. Such modules organise learning into small components or activities — typically about five minutes in duration — centred around performance support, summarisation of key points or steady reinforcement.
Design thinking
The new “pull”-based learning paradigm requires you to have a fundamental re-look at the existing user interfaces of your LMS. If the user experience is not intuitive and seamless, then the desired skill-building and knowledge enrichment will be suboptimal. Therefore, you should adopt the principles of design thinking to revamp your LMS interfaces, whereby the end-to-end content navigation flow is structured around the needs of the actual user. Equally importantly, for all this rich content to deliver business results on the ground, you should embed your learning modules — spanning video, mobile and microlearning material — into business processes across the organisation.
For example, some of your new frontline managers might not be too keen on taking up formal onboarding courses, preferring to learn on the job. What you could do here is to provision relevant tools, videos, checklists, articles and online support for them, so that they can quickly find what they need, and go back to work.
The ability to hire, groom and retain top talent will be a key source of competitive advantage for businesses going forward. For you to foster a truly differentiating, self-directing learning environment that enables employees to deliver on intended business targets, you should begin by reimagining existing content tools, information and support systems.

Source:THE HINDU-23rd August,2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

Now, DNA sensor for quick pathogen detection

This beats conventional methods

An ultrasensitive DNA sensor that can detect S. pyogenes, a bacterium which causes a wide range of diseases in about 30 minutes has been developed. The DNA chip is highly specific device for S. pyogenes. The conventional method of identification takes 18-24 hours and the basic culture test does not specifically help distinguish S. pyogenes.

Early detection

From mild skin and throat infections to life-threatening toxic shock syndrome, S. pyogenes infections affect 700 million people every year. If not treated during early stages of the infection, S. pyogenes can even lead to rheumatic heart disease (heart valves damage).
The sensor was developed by scientists from CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Delhi, and the results were published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.
The DNA chip based sensor consists of a carbon electrode embedded with gold nanoparticles. By means of a bioinformatics study, the researchers were able to design probes which are specific for S. pyogenes.
The working electrode surface of the device is attached with several small-sized, single-stranded DNA probe specific to the pathogen. When patients’ DNA, isolated from throat swabs, are placed on the surface, they bind to the complementary single-stranded DNA on the device and an electrochemical change is seen. This is measured using a differential pulse voltammetry.
Identification of pathogen
For confirmation, traditional culture test was used and the results matched with the DNA sensor. “The sensor is highly sensitive and could detect even 60-65 bacteria in a 6 microlitre sample. It could identify the pathogen even at very low concentrations of DNA. We were able to get a peak with a concentration of even 0.001nanogram per 6 microlitre,” explains Swati Singh from IGIB and the first author of the paper.

Stable sensor

The sensor was found to be stable for 12 months with only 10% loss in initial current peak on storage at 4 degree C. “We are working on construction of different biosensors for different pathogens. Early and quick diagnosis can help in preventing the diseases and seek medical treatment at the early stage of infection,” adds Dr. Ashok Kumar, Chief Scientist/Professor (AcSIR) at IGIB and corresponding author of the paper.

Source: THE HINDU-13th August,2017

IIT Guwahati develops silk patch to repair damaged heart tissue

The 3D patch has high cell density, a foremost requirement for heart tissue

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have fabricated a 3D cardiac tissue patch using silk protein membranes seeded with heart muscle cells. The patch can potentially be used for regenerating damaged heart tissue.
“The 3D patch that we fabricated can be implanted at the site of damage to help the heart regain normal function. It can also be used for sealing holes in the heart,” says Biman Mandal from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati, who led the research.
Cardiac tissue gets permanently damaged when oxygen supply is reduced or cut off during a heart attack. The damaged portion gets scarred and does not contract and relax, which over time leads to a change in the shape of the heart and reduced pumping capacity.
While currently available grafts fail to mimic the structure and the function of the native heart tissue as well as maintain high cell numbers, the patch developed by the IIT Guwahati researchers scores over these on many counts. The results were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.
The team led by Prof. Mandal tested both mulberry (Bombyx mori) and non-mulberry (Antheraea assama) silk to fabricate the membrane. Silk proteins extracted from raw silk were used for fabricating the membrane by using a mould. The nano-groove structure on the mould was transferred to the silk membrane and this helped guide the heart muscle to grow in a linear fashion and parallel to each other thus mimicking the heart tissue structure. “We focused on developing a silk-based tissue engineered membrane which will allow the cardiac cells to grow while maintaining the structural anisotropy,” says Prof. Mandal.

Seeding the silk

Heart cell lines and cells taken from the heart tissue were used for seeding the silk membrane. The presence of certain cell-binding protein sequences (RGD motifs) and greater surface roughness of the non-mulberry silk, which is endemic to north-east India (locally called muga silk), facilitated better anchorage and cell binding. “The cells grew and proliferated, filling the membrane 7-10 days after it was seeded,” he says.
As heart tissue continuously contracts and relaxes, the engineered tissue should have good elasticity. “The muga silk exhibited good elasticity and mechanical strength comparable to native heart tissue as we used only 2% silk proteins to make the membrane,” says Shreya Mehrotra, Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering and first author of the paper. “When tested on mice, we found the muga silk was immunologically compatible and hence not rejected by the immune system,” she adds.

Making a 3D patch

The single membranes with proliferating cells were then stacked one over the other to form a 3D patch. “In 5-6 days, the cells present on top of the membrane bound to the membrane above it leading to the layers sticking to each other,” Prof. Mandal says.
“Stacking the membranes to form a 3D patch overcomes the drawbacks of current scaffolds used for cardiac tissue engineering in terms of creating a high cell dense anisotropic patch, a foremost requirement for this tissue,” he stresses.
The silk in the patch supports the cells till the newly formed cardiac tissue integrates with the native heart tissue and degrades once the integration takes place. “This method is better than the conventional direct delivery of cardiac cells to repair the damaged portion of the heart as the cells get washed out from the injected site,” says Ms. Mehrotra.
The team will carry out animal studies in collaboration with AIIMS.

Source: THE HINDU-13th August,2017

On a mission to reduce, reuse and recycle - Two students lead drive to collect used ballpoint pens from campuses in Kozhikode

A world without plastic is not possible, believe Harishanker S. Nair and Shabab Karunyam, two college students from Kozhikode. They, instead, propagate the three ‘R’s — reduce, reuse and recycle.
And their venture, Mission Ball Pen, is a step in this direction, aimed at reducing the use of ballpoint pens, reusing them if possible, or if not, recycling. The final year undergraduate students of Lissah College, Kaithappoyil and Government Arts and Science College, Meenchanda, Harishanker and Shabab have dedicated their current academic year to the mission, which, they expect, will take the message to all school and college campuses in Kozhikode district and beyond.
Their tryst with ballpoint pens began when the two were volunteering for the Pen Drive, a project undertaken by the Green Care Mission in Kozhikode a year ago.
Under the project, they collected around one lakh used ballpoint pens from all over the district and handed them over to a group that took it to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, where the pens were used to make an installation.
The Pen Drive kicked off a movement in campuses in the district, as part of which the students continued to collect the pens, but did not know what to do with them. “Teachers from many schools contacted us asking for guidance to dispose off the pens. This prompted us to begin Mission Ball Pen on an experimental basis,” says Harishanker.
Waste management
The volunteers of Mission Ball Pen plan to collect ballpoint pens from campuses and hand it over to Green Worms, a Kozhikode-based waste management venture that will recycle the pens. The volunteers will propagate the message either directly through classes or through the social media.
The activities of Mission Ball Pen is managed by a parental body that has members from Government Arts and Science College, Meenchanda, Lissah College, Kaithappoyil, Ramakrishna Mission Higher Secondary School, Meenchanda and Green Worms, while Harishanker and Shabab constitute the directing body.
The services of the mission are provided free of cost while transportation charges are levied from institutions that are located more than seven kilometres away from the city.
“We are getting queries from colleges in Thrissur, Kannur and Wayanad. They can be included if the load is substantial,” says Harishanker.
The duo does not plan to continue with the mission after the current academic year. Interested organisations, student bodies or individuals are welcome to take over the mission, which will be formally announced at a function to be held at HiLite Business Park in Kozhikode.

Source: THE HINDU-13th August,2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

India lags in pharma innovation - China has surged ahead when it comes to developing novel therapies for indigenous diseases

Pharma is bullish in China. Lung, liver and stomach cancers are among the top killers in China, says the WHO. Novartis AG is testing a clinical candidate to treat head and neck cancer widespread in southern China. Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) portfolio includes clinical candidates for lung cancer and hepatitis B, endemic in China. Sanofi SA has a preclinical candidate to treat a form of liver cancer that is prevalent in China.
 In 2012, JNJ opened a drug discovery laboratory in Shanghai, which has developed preclinical candidates for lung and blood cancers and hepatitis B. Novartis committed $1 billion in 2009 and 2014 to set up a new drug discovery centre in Shanghai; last October, it began testing its first China-discovered molecule to treat nasopharyngeal cancer on Chinese patients. Eli Lilly’s team of 600 drug discovery scientists is initiating clinical studies on a China-discovered molecule to treat liver fibrosis.

Typhoid, jaundice, sickle-cell anaemia and diarrhoeal diseases like amebiasis affect millions in India; then how come there are no clinical or preclinical candidates to treat these diseases in the pipelines of pharma? Yes, the market sizes are different, but pharmaceutical pricing in China does not compare well to what these companies make in the US and European markets on innovative drugs. Despite this, pharma companies are investing in building Research and Development capabilities in China. Why have we not seen similar investments in innovative drug development in India?
Of course, it is entirely unreasonable to expect our own industry, which is primarily focused on selling copies of chemical and biological drugs invented by others at cut-throat discounted prices, to think of undertaking such innovative efforts. Yes, I know; there have been a few attempts in the past, and we have a few clinical candidates in development, but do we really have the appetite to develop innovative therapies? More importantly, with great fanfare and focus on Make in India, what do we have to show in the area of development of New Chemical and Biological Entities?

While there is a myriad of reasons, all relevant I am sure, that have led to where we are, let me offer you a few to think about.

First, drug discovery and development is a risky proposition. I am sure you must have heard of the astronomical costs associated with the development of a new drug; much of this comes from the failure of several candidates which fall by the wayside during the rigorous risk-benefit analysis when it comes to safety and therapeutic efficacy. Unfortunately, our understanding of business risk is very different. We take plenty of risks, but all in wrong places. Five years of inspection data from the US FDA conclusively prove that.

Our pharmaceutical industry expects a return on capital deployed in 24 months (that is how long it takes to develop an Abbreviated New Drug Application), while drug discovery is a 10-year game. We just don’t have the business risk-appetite to compete; let’s be honest about it. Drug discovery doesn’t yield results in five years, and most promoters who run Indian pharma do not have the patience to persevere in the long run; plain and simple.

Second, we don’t have the skills to conduct drug discovery. Yes, we have become masters at reverse engineering chemical entities, our chemistry skills are a force to reckon with. But drug discovery requires biology, in addition to chemistry. And here we fail miserably. Yes, we have a lot of hoopla about “Skill India”, but when was the last time you heard about training microbiologists in the context of that programme?
Third, the Chinese government played a key role in convincing expat Chinese scientists from the West to come back to China and help establish the industry. It gave them generous grants, created world-class laboratory infrastructure and incentivised these folks to come back home. Anyone who has gone through the process of applying for a DST grant will tell you what a boondoggle it is. The bureaucrats who administer these grants are the last people who know anything about innovation. They are experts in creating red-tape and revel at it. It’s a fishbowl for patronage. So much for creating a conducive environment!

Finally, the Chinese government overhauled its ageing regulator. It modernised its laws governing research, bought competent people from the industry to administer the regulatory agency and held them accountable (including hanging an official found guilty of bribery and corruption). The result is that CFDA’s standards align with ICH, internationally acceptable norms. It doesn’t promote two sets of standards, one for the “Chinese market” and another for “export-markets” like we do.

China has leapfrogged India when it comes to developing novel therapies for indigenous diseases. Our priorities are finding solutions to deal with problems that we have ourselves created, like Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis!
The author is a public health activist and chairman of Medassure Global Compliance Corporation. Views expressed are personal.

Source: DNA-10th August,2017

ISRO to develop full-fledged earth observation satellite - ‘Hyspex’ imaging will enable distinct identification of objects from space

A new set of future satellites called hyperspectral imaging satellites is set to add teeth to the way India will be seen from about 600 km in space.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) says it plans to launch a full-fledged niche earth observation (EO) satellite — called the Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite or HySIS — using a critical chip it has developed. 

There is no specific time-frame yet for its launch, an ISRO spokesman said, adding that meanwhile, the new chip, technically called an “optical imaging detector array,” that they have created for it would be tested and perfected. “ISRO is endeavouring to enter the domain of operational hyperspectral imaging from earth orbit with a satellite that can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above ground,” ISRO has said. It said it decided to develop the chip that suited Indian requirements.

Hyperspectral or hyspex imaging is said to be an earth observation trend that is being experimented globally. Adding a new dimension to plain-vanilla optical imagers, it can be used for a range of activities from monitoring the environment, crops, looking for oil and minerals all the way up to military surveillance — all of which need images that show a high level of differentiation of the object or scene.
About a decade ago, ISRO added another earth observation niche with microwave or radar imaging satellites RISAT-1 and 2 that could ‘see’ through clouds and the dark — an important feature useful for the military and security agencies.

‘Hyspex’ imaging is said to enable distinct identification of objects, materials or processes on earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space.
Another official described it as “another important development by ISRO in its quest for better and diverse earth observation technologies.”
ISRO first tried it out in an 83-kg IMS-1 experimental satellite in May 2008. The same year, a hyperspectral camera was put on Chandrayaan-1 and used to map lunar mineral resources. Very few space agencies have such a satellite; a German environmental satellite called EnMAP is due to be launched on an Indian booster in 2018.

The payloads development centre, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, designed the architecture of the chip which was made at ISRO’s electronics arm, the Semi-Conductor Laboratory, Chandigarh. The result was a detector array that could read 1000 x 66 pixels.

According to an EO expert who called it the ‘CATSCAN’ equivalent of Earth from space, hyspex technology was still an evolving science.

Source: THE HINDU-10th August,2017

Drones may soon replace skilled labourers in spraying fungicide - Startup, with govt. support, to launch a working prototype in January next

Soon, we may see drones replacing skilled labourers, who are scarce, to spray fungicide to control ‘kole roga’ (fruit rot disease) in arecanut plantations during the rainy season.

A team of five engineers, that has floated a startup in Nidle village near Dharmasthala in Dakshina Kannada district, is geared up for commercial production of such drones by the end of next year.
“Its working prototype will be launched in January next for all farmers to see,” Avinash Rao, founder and CEO of ISP Agro Robotics Pvt. Ltd., told The Hindu .

The startup cell of the State Department of IT and BT recently sanctioned a corpus of Rs. 50 lakh to this “idea to proof of concept project” as grant-in-aid.
Mr. Rao, an automation and control specialist who quit his lucrative job in Bengaluru to launch the startup, said the research and development of the project began in 2008 and its field trial demonstration was under progress.
The prototype was demonstrated to Mangaluru-based Arecanut and Research and Development Foundation, under Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd., for suggestions. The modifications and trails will go on till the common arecanut grower is convinced.

Acute shortage
Manchi Srinivasa Achar, president of the All-India Areca Growers’ Association, Puttur, said thousands of growers have been facing acute shortage of skilled labourers who can manually climb the palms for spraying fungicide (mixture of copper sulphate and quick lime) on areca bunches. Arecanut palm-climbing devices developed on trial basis by individuals are yet to convince the farmers on safety of the climber and hence have not become popular.
Ramesh Kaintaje, an arecanut grower, said as the palms become slippery when it rains and skilled labourers find it difficult to climb them and have to wait a long time for the palms to dry. Hence, it takes a long time to complete spraying. Even if skilled labourers work for an hour a day, a grower would have to make the full payment of Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,500 a day.
On certain occasions, small and marginal farmers have to spend more than Rs. 5,000 as wage for spraying fungicide on an acre. The wages have gone up because of labour shortage.
Mr. Rao, who comes from a family of areca growers, said many drones could be used in one plantation to complete the spraying at the earliest.

Source: THE HINDU-31st July,2017

Legalise Marijuana - Medical and recreational usage will prevent addiction to hard drugs

Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi's suggestion that marijuana for medical needs should be legalised is welcome. Such an amendment would reflect an enlightened drug policy that takes into cognisance medical data and international trends. In the US today more than half the states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.In fact, a report of the US National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine which analysed more than 10,000 scientific studies on marijuana found strong evidence of the organic drug helping in the treatment of chronic pain, nausea after chemotherapy, and some symptoms of multiple sclerosis. 

There's no reason why Indian policymakers shouldn't take a similar informed approach to marijuana and even legalise possession of small quantities of the mild intoxicant for recreational purposes. All the more so because the consumption of marijuana and other cannabis derivatives such as bhang dates back hundreds of years and has strong roots in Indian culture.Till 1985, marijuana and cannabis derivatives were legally sold in the country through authorised retail shops.However, the enactment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in that year ­ done under US and international pressure ­ clubbed marijuana with hard drugs and made all illegal.

Now that opinion and trends with respect to marijuana are reversing in the US and other countries, India should follow suit. Besides, several studies have shown that moderate consumption of marijuana is far less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. If the latter can be sold over the counter, the same standards should be applied to marijuana as well. Plus, decriminalising marijuana use will prevent people from graduating to harder drugs that should remain proscribed. Distinction between the two will also help unclog our prisons that are bursting at the seams. Hence, a liberal approach to marijuana coupled with greater focus on de-addiction for hard drugs must be the way forward.

Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA-1st August,2017

You can stop Google from tracking you

Google could have a complete list of al most everything you've ever looked at. The site collects information on your searches, browsing history , YouTube videos you've watched and more. But it can all be seen -and deleted -from one page.

Google's `My Activity' page includes all of those searches and pages. The list will at least include every Google search you've ever done while signed in. But if you use Google Chrome, it will also include just about every website you've ever visited, all catalogued by date and time.

Google collects the information in part so that it can be useful to you, but it is mostly to use it for ads. You can turn the collection off on the Activity Controls page.

Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA-1st August,2017

Fingerprint sensor could dial for help in the future

Apple may be working on a way for the Touch ID sensor in the iPhone to contact emergency services quickly and easily.
An Apple patent published recently by the US Patent and Trademark Office shows a method for using a biometric sensor similar to the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 6 and later home button to discreetly trigger an emergency call.
Filed in March 2013, the patent describes using a system that can recognise the frequency, force, and even specific fingerprint used on the sensor to execute particular commands.
The system could be used to quickly activate a `panic alarm', which could send a GPS signal to emergency responders, or activate a live videoaudio stream to record an incident. Currently, leading smartphones have an option to make emergency calls without unlocking the device, but still require the user to be on the line with the emergency dispatcher.
But, Apple's patented feature could allow one to designate a certain finger or special sequence of presses to request for help without having to be engaged with the phone throughout the emergency.

Source:The Economic Times-31st July,2017

An Eye for Engineering - How an engineer who walked in for treatment to LV Prasad Eye Institute changed the way engineering is used in Indian ophthalmology

VS Sangwan likes to answer his patient's questions thoroughly, and so he didn't find anything unusual when he first met Ashutosh Richhariya.It was 2004. Richhariya, who was running a business in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, had run into trouble with his eyes and hence his business. He had come to LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Hyderabad, to get treated. Sangwan, one of the leading ophthalmologists in the country, was preparing to operate him when the questions began to flow.

Richhariya first asked Sangwan about corneal dystrophy, the genetic disease he was suffering from, where unwanted material gets accumulated in the cornea. It often begins in childhood and progresses with age and Richhariya was losing his vision in one eye when he met Sangwan.His vision improved after the surgery but he developed astigmatism, a common occurrence after eye surgery.
Richhariya asked why he had got astigmatism and why it could not be stopped. “I told him that there are many uncontrollable factors,“ says Sangwan.Richhariya was not convinced they were truly uncontrollable.
When he came for the first time to LVPEI, Richhariya had already founded an instrumentation company called Shubda ElectroMechanial Engineers in 1997. By 2002, it had touched revenues of `100 crore. Richhariya had to shut down the business when the eye problems started. His astigmatism after the surgery really troubled him, as his eye power was changing every two weeks.Then he got glaucoma and later cataract.
Richhariya is an engineer and an MBA, and so could look at a problem from two vantage points. “I was really disappointed that there were so many uncontrollable factors,“ says Richhariya. “So I wanted to use the tools of quality management to understand non-conformation.“
He felt he could figure out the problems in the processes followed during surgery, and then find out ways of fixing them.Sangwan encouraged him. Richhariya decided to look at the eye more closely, especially from the vantage point of an engineer. Meanwhile, he had to earn a living. In 2012, he joined Mahakal Institute of Technology, a new engineering college in Ujjain, as a lecturer.
While he taught there, Richhariya continued to research on the cornea. He had sought Sangwan's help to use the library at the eye institute, and he spent long hours in there reading. Richhariya didn't have a PhD. The management of Mahakal Institute told him that he would not get far in academics without a PhD degree. He did a masters in engineering and found a professor at Ujjain Engineering College, Sunil Punjabi of the department of mechanical engineering, to be his guide. Since Richhariya wanted to research corneal biomechanics, he sought the help of Sangwan, too, who also promised to be his guide.
He asked Sangwan for permission to watch his surgeries. He took corneal samples and studied them. In a few years, Richhariya had mastered his domain, but he had to surmount some systemic problems.
Engineers and doctors did not see eye to eye in India, and there was little collaboration between the two disciplines.So there were very few experts, not to speak of equipment, to help Richhariya in his research.
He had found out mechanical stresses of the eye produced changes in refractive index, and not just changes in shape as was believed by ophthalmologists.His theory was not easy to test with out high quality optical equipment.One world class institute at Indore, the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RR-CAT) had the necessary equipment. It was not far from his home town of Ujjain, and Sunil Punjabi used his connections to provide Richhariya access to do experiments there.
As he worked on corneal biomechanics, Sangwan watched him closely and began to feel that he was a serious researcher.
Ophthalmologists in India have their own battles with equipment. They were too expensive and poorly maintained due to lack of technical expertise. Expensive machines often stopped working in government medical institutions, as they run out of money to get equipment serviced. Top-ranking private hospitals maintain their's at great expense.
LV Prasad Eye Institute, for example, bought a phacoemulsification machine, used in all high-end eye hospitals for cataract surgery using ultrasound. It cost the institute `50 lakh but it is poorly maintained as there are no experts available. Service is often late. Its hand piece, which delivers the ultrasound waves, can last longer if maintained regularly in the hospital. When it breaks down, the manufacturer insists on replacement rather than repair, adding to the cost.“Engineers are as important in a hospital as doctors,“ says Sangwan. He saw in Richhariya an engineer who could change things, at least in his institution.
Richhariya, however, had his own plans.He applied for a Fulbright Fellowship to go the US to work in the best labs in his discipline. Interviewers for the scholarship were amazed at his knowledge of corneal biomechanics. “Within 30 minutes they told me I would get the fellowship,“ says Richhariya.
Sangwan, meanwhile, spoke to institute founder Gullapalli Rao to sponsor Richhariya's work in the US for an extra year. Rao had worked at the University of Rochester, which had one of the world's leading optics labs. He readily agreed to send Richhariya there. Rao also agreed to hire Richhariya to start an engineering division at LVPEI when he returned.
David Williams of the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester was then developing a remarkable new technique for imaging the eye in extraordinary detail. Called adaptive optics, it is now being used in state-of-the-art optical telescopes to compensate for distortions of the atmosphere. In telescopes using this technique, mirrors change their shapes a thousand times a second to counteract atmospheric distortions of celestial light. Williams developed similar techniques to compensate for the distortions caused by fluids in the eye.
Richhariya worked in his lab to understand the technology. Specifically, he worked on an Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope (AOSLO), which can image individual cells of the retina.“He learned not just to use the instrument,“ says Williams, “but also trained to set up the instrument in India.“ When he returned, Williams gave Richhariya the instrument parts, which he assembled himself at L V Prasad Institute. “It is difficult,“ says Williams. “Not many in the world have this capability.“
The instrument is now assembled on a large table top. University of Rochester owns intellectual property, but Richhariya is free to modify as he likes. LVPEI has begun to use it for its research and to detect retinal diseases at an early stage. Richhariya is now associate director of the engineering group, which works on instrumentation used in the hospital. He has expanded LVPEI's reach through academic partnerships with two IITs in India and the University of British Columbia in Canada.
A partnership with IIT Hyderabad had beg un informally even before Richhariya started the engineering division. D Balasubramaniam, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular biology in Hyderabad, had gone to IIT to give a talk in 2012.
After retirement in 1998, Balasubramananian had become research director of LVPEI, where he had helped develop, among other things, pioneering techniques for using stem cells to produce corneal epithelia. This later became the largest successful human clinical trials of stem cells. “Balasubramanian threw some challenges to the engineers,“ says Sumohana Channappayya, professor of electrical engineering at IIT Hyderabad.“He asked us, can we build an artificial eye? Or how can we help people who are visually impaired?“ Some professors took the challenge and began working on eye-related engineering problems.
Now, IIT Hyderabad works with LVPEI on long-term b a si s. T he eye i n st it ute sp on sors three MTech students for three years on research problems t hat have relevance in ophthalmology.
After Richhar iya joi ne d for iya joi ne d for mally, he also started a project with IIT Madras, on using lasers for eye surgery.Anil Prabhakar and Balaji Srinivasan at IIT Madras had developed a new generation of lasers called fibre lasers, which can withstand dust and reduce cost of equipment. These two institutions, along with the IIT Madras startup Unilumen Photonics, is working on a project to develop a pico-second fibre laser for ophthalmology, partly funded by the Department of Biotechnology.
Unilumen will manufacture the product, when ready. LVPEI will also look at manufacturing other devices from its research.The adaptive optics device helps image the retina at cellular level and can catch degenerative diseases well before they become evident on other imaging equipment. One day, this could become a product that is manufactured in India. Meanwhile, LVPEI is developing a handheld device, along with the University of British Columbia, to catch eye infections early.
Richhariya joined LVPEI in December 2012. he submitted his PhD thesis in 2013.It was so unusual that the Rajiv Gandhi Technical University, the Bhopal-based institution where he had registered for his PhD, took three years to find experts to examine the thesis. Richhariya got his PhD last month.

Source: THE ECONOMIC TIMES-1st August,2017

Leaders who are readers

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to read one book a week, while investor guru Warren Buffett goes through five newspapers a day.

Here is a look at the reading habits of a few ultra-successful people
Mark Zuckerberg
In 2015, the Facebook CEO vowed to read one book every other week “with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies“.
“Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today,“ he wrote. “I'm looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.“

Phil Knight
According to The New York Times, the Nike founder kept the library behind his executive office so s ac r e d t h at a nyone who entered had to remove their shoes and bow. When asked by the Times in 2007 if he had preserved the library after stepping down as CEO, Knight responded with incredulity. “Of course the library still exists,“ he said. “I'm always learning.“

Mark Cuban
Dallas Mave ricks owner Mark Cuban is a vocal supporter of treating business like a sport, which means he looks for the competi tive edge however he can. Often, that means reading for three hours every d ay, j u s t t o learn more about the industries he works in. Cuban has said this worked won ders at the start of his career.
“Everything I read was pub lic,“ he wrote i n h i s blo g .
“Anyone could buy the same books and magazines. The same information was available to anyone who wanted it. Turns out most people didn't want it.“

Oprah Winfrey
Since 1996, the talkshow host has been advising her viewers' reading habits with her book club. Winfrey has ca l led reading “her personal path to freedom“.
“Books allowed me to see a world beyond the front porch of my grandmother's shotgun house,“ she said in her acceptance speech for the 20 04 United Nations Humanitarian Awards, adding that books gave her “the power to see possibilities beyond what was allowed at the time“.

Bill Gates
The former Microsoft CEO has attested to reading 50 books a year, or roughly one book a week. Most of the books are nonfiction dealing with public health, disease, engineering, business, and science. Every now and then he will breeze through a novel (and sometimes in one sitting late into the night). But primarily, the books serve Gates's interest in learning more about the world he inhabits.

Warren Buffett
The Berkshire Hathaway magnate reportedly spends five to six hours a day reading five different newspapers. He also combs through 500 pages of financial documents and recommends prospective investors do the same.
“That's how knowledge works,“ he recently told an investment class at Columbia University. “It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.“

Elon Musk
Long before he became the CEO of Tesla, and even before he cofounded PayPal, Elon Musk was reading sciencef ic t io n n ove l s fo r up to 10 hours a day.He a lso repor ted ly read through the ent i r e E nc yc lop e d i a Britannica when he was nine. He credits a love of books for his vast knowledge about rockets. When asked how he knew so much .about them, he said, “I read a lot of books.“

Source:THE ECONOMIC TIMES-1st August,2017