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Indian Chair at Cairo varsity will benefit India, Egypt: Prof

Press Trust of India  |  Cairo 

The first Indian Chair in the Arab world at a top Egyptian university, which was operationalised last month, will benefit both countries as it facilitates exchange of top academics, an Indian professor here has said.

The MoU to establish the Indian Chair was signed between Cairo's Ain Shams University and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in March and was operationalised last month.

The Indian Chair will be for a period of one semester at a time for three years and will be extended on mutual agreement.

Naidu Subbarao, who teaches bioinformatics at the varsity and is the first Indian Chair in the Arab World, expressed his excitement to have an opportunity to share his knowledge with Egyptian students.

Bioinformatics is the application of computer technology to the management of biological information. Computers gather, analyse and integrate biological and genetic information, that can be applied to gene-based drug discovery and development.

There are high expectations for bioinformatics to lend to drug discovery.

"It is a new field (which became popular) in the past 20 years only. The biological data is coming up and it combines biology with computer science so it is important to focus on it. Now, any biologist without computers they can't do well anymore," said Subbarao.

His course explores issues faced during drug discovery and development and thus he has to finalise the curriculum in consultation with the university to meet local requirements and to impart knowledge on India's technological advancements.

"I want to teach the students here so they have a broader idea about what is going at the moment and what is the future of bioinformatics," he said Subbarao.

The professor, who completed his PhD from IIT Kanpur and was Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary Commonwealth Postdoctoral Fellow at UK's University of Leeds, faced few challenges while teaching Egyptian students, one of them was the language.

"The first challenge, I think, was language. I still have some communication problems, but I try to go slow so that the students can understand me and I am trying to learn Arabic and have already picked up a few words," he said with excitement.

"So far the interaction with the students have been very good. They are very helpful and cooperative," he said.

According to him, one of the major problems facing higher education is funding. "Also, we need to have good teachers in different fields and students should be willing to learn."

Subbarao is also eager to explore and its culture.

"I particularly want to visit the pyramids, and the beautiful Nile River," he said.

Last month, India's Ambassador here Sanjay Bhattacharyya said that by establishing the Indian Chair, both countries have entered a "new era" in academic cooperation.

Ain Shams University, a beacon of high quality education in Egypt, is the third largest Egyptian university, founded in July 1950. Known for its leading role in developing cultural ethos, ASU inculcates scientific temperament, enriches human knowledge and promotes political participation among youth.

Recently, ASU commenced the teaching of Hindi and use of Devanagari script in its Faculty of Languages.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, October 16 2016. 14:28 IST