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Indian Institute of Science launches 'Longevity India Initiative' to pioneer ageing research in India



2024-05-25 02:33:41 Education

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19 April 2024: The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) announces the launch of the Longevity India Initiative, a project focused on efforts to extend human 'healthspan' and tackle ageing-related challenges. The initiative has also started a large-scale clinical study that will involve researchers from multiple IISc departments, clinicians, industry, philanthropists and civil society. This initiative seeks to enhance the understanding of ageing through both fundamental and applied research, and to develop solutions that can improve quality of life. The initiative has received initial grant funding support from Prashanth Prakash, Founding Partner, Accel India.

The initiative was formally launched at an event held at the Institute. The Longevity India Initiative brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts from academia, industry, and healthcare to address complex challenges related to ageing. The initiative will leverage advanced research to develop interventions that can help manage age-related diseases more effectively, with an emphasis on promoting healthy ageing across India.

"The Longevity India Initiative challenges the notion that ageing is an inevitable fate. As we study the complexities of ageing, we recognise the importance of considering diverse factors that shape it, including lifestyle, culture, genetics, and environment. With India's unique demographic landscape, existing longevity research may not suffice. This initiative is an attempt to bring together multiple stakeholders working in the space, and explore the subject factoring in India's specific and diverse needs," said Prashanth Prakash, Founding Partner, Accel India.

"Advancing ageing-related scientific research is key and we believe research-based interventions can pave the way for healthy ageing in India," added Prakash.

"As we witness remarkable progress in ageing research, it's evident that collaboration between industry and academia is essential. With India's elderly population projected to surge to 347 million by 2050, it is imperative that we leverage technology to provide accessible geriatric healthcare, nurture the silver economy and invest in digital systems that support ageing populations," said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon, speaking at the launch.

"There is an urgent need for diverse stakeholders from academia, healthcare and industry to come together, and nurture technology development and deep research on healthy ageing," said Govindan Rangarajan, Director, IISc. "Many research groups at IISc have already been working on ageing and associated challenges for years. We are optimistic that this timely initiative will have a significant impact on tackling the growing burden of ageing in the country."

Deepak Saini, Convener, Longevity India Initiative, said, "The longevity field needs long-term investment and support. We look forward to engaging with various stakeholders in this game-changing initiative."

MS Ramaiah Hospital and Bangalore Medical College & Research Institute have officially partnered to conduct a clinical study for identifying biomarkers of ageing. Additionally, leading industry partners like Beckman Coulter, Healthians, Valerian Proteomics, and DecodeAge are providing crucial support by offering their technologies at accessible costs, accelerating research efforts.

Highlights from the launch event:

- Navakanta Bhat, Dean, Division of Interdisciplinary Sciences, IISc, gave the opening address

- Govindan Rangarajan, Director, IISc, outlined the vision and expected impact of the Longevity India Initiative

- Deepak Saini, Convener, Longevity India, provided an overview of the initiative, its goals and plans

- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon, shared insights on industry's role in supporting longevity research

- A fireside chat on the need for longevity research in India was organised, featuring industry leader Prashanth Prakash, Accel Ventures, and healthcare expert Vishal Rao, HCG Global

The initiative's research focus includes identifying early disease indicators, investigating ageing biomarkers, and developing new therapeutics and technologies to aid in healthy ageing. IISc's extensive experience in biological and interdisciplinary sciences will facilitate the development, testing and implementation of these innovations.

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