Fri, 14 Aug 2020

By Suchitra MukherjeeNew Delhi [India], July 3 (ANI): The drug discovery hackathon, a joint initiative of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), can yield to some novel solution for COVID-19, said Shekhar Mande, Director-General, CSIR.

The hackathon program was launched on Thursday by Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, MHRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', MoS MHRD Dhotre in presence of PSA Vijay Raghavan.

"The combination of two can actually yield some novel solution to COVID-19. So the idea is to pose problems to a large body of students, train them how the drugs are discovered and all using in silicon method allow the student to actually work on finding the novel solution which is the idea," said Mande.

"PM of India had suggested to the principal scientific advisor to the government of India, Professor Vijay Raghavan that we should involve students at a large scale to try to find the solution for COVID-19, especially in the drugs field. This is the first time in the world that a drug discovery hackathon has been launched," he added.

Mande continued saying that AICTE education has been conducting hackathon for other problems in the past and last year when hackathon was conducted about 3 to 3.5 lakh students across India had participated.

"There is so much energy in young India, so whether we can use that energy for finding the solution to COVID-19 that is the question," he added.

"The CSIR has had an experience in the past in open source drug discovery and we thought that our experience open source drug discovery can be combined with the hackathon experience together," said Mande.

"Basically we will post problem statement to the students then the students will be trained in the method to solve this problem and they will be given access to the computer to solve it. Then they will actually come up with some novel solution. Problem statements have been defined, infrastructure is almost there so it should start very very soon," he added.

The idea is that CSIR will use its experience to train the student but if any lead comes out of this and goes into animal trial and human trial, CSIR and AICTE will take it up and lead forward, Mande added. (ANI)

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