Chair set up at IIT Madras for brain research

A boost to computational brain research as an IIT Madras alumnus funds three chairs at his alma mater

Research at IIT Madras got a fresh impetus with the creation of three chairs in computational brain research, supported by an endowment of Rs 10 crore each. The chairs have been set up by Kris Gopalakrishnan, an IIT Madras alumnus and co-founder of Infosys.
The first of these, the Professor Mahabala distinguished chair in computational brain research was launched on campus at a function attended by Gopalakrishnan and HN Mahabala, retired faculty member from the institute's computer science and engineering department. The first occupant of the chair is Partha Mitra, principal investigator, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York.

According to R Nagarajan, Dean, international and alumni relations, IIT Madras, this will enable the institute to bring experts and researchers to campus. "The previous decade was about the internet and lots of people were working to understand the phenomenon. This is the decade of the brain," he said.

The interdisciplinary institute chair is intended for occupancy by leading mid-career and senior researchers from academia, laboratories and industry. "This is just the kind of support we need to enable the institution to enter new and exciting areas at the cutting edge of global research," said Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT Madras.

This development is also indicative of increased interest in research by industry at large. "Research funding is available and there are many government agencies willing to provide assistance as well. But it is a competitive process and the quality has to be superior. In the last four to five years, industry has come forward to fund research projects. There is a need to sponsor high-end research," says Nagarajan, adding that manufacturing efficiency, nanotechnology and affordable housing are areas seeing good research activity.
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