PTI; August 25, 2005
The United States National Institute of Health and India's Department of Biotechnology have signed a Letter of Intent for collaboration on expansion of vision research. The agreement was signed by Maharaj K. Bhan, Secretary of India's Department of Biotechnology, and Elias A. Zerhouni, Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, at the institute campus in Bethesda, Maryland, with both emphasising an increased commitment to joint collaborations on eye disorders.
The Letter of Intent recognised the strong commitment by the two countries to reduce vision disability and blindness along with successful research collaboration between Indian and American scientists and institutions in the prevention of blindness.
The Letter of Intent also acknowledged the scientific accomplishments realised under previous Indo-US collaborative agreements, including the Indo-US Science and Technology sub-commission and the Gandhi-Reagan Science and Technology Initiative and the high degree of research expertise in basic biology and clinical science in both countries, which could make collaboration on an equal footing possible.
On the Indian side, the Department of Biotechnology would serve as the nodal agency, with the expectation of the involvement of other interested governmental and non-governmental organisations, it said. On the U.S. side, the Health and Human Services/NIH National Eye Institute is intended to serve as the nodal agency. Both parties may also identify scientific co-chairs in each other for implementation of research collaborations.
Eye disorders are responsible for 3.1 percent of the global burden of diseases, according to the World Health Organisation. Worldwide, more than 37 million people are blind. In India, the number is more than 12 million and over one million in the U.S.