New School of Biosciences announced by Ashoka University

Ashoka University on Jan 28 announced the launch of the Trivedi School of Biosciences with a commitment of over Rs 100 crore by Ashok Trivedi, Founder and Trustee, Ashoka University, and Managing Partner of SWAT Capital. The advisory board of the School will be led by Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society, Venkatraman ‘Venki’ Ramakrishnan. Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak of Harvard University, James Collins of MIT, Ronald Vale of HHMI and Satyajit Mayor of National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, will help set the research and teaching agenda.

Ashoka University will start its global search for new faculty led by Malabika Sarkar, Vice-Chancellor, and L.S. Shashidhara, Dean, Research. While the infrastructure will be ready by December 2021, the school already has six highly qualified faculty and a dozen PhD scholars working on various projects. It aims to have over 30 biosciences faculty and 100 PhD students by 2025.

The Trivedi School of Biosciences will focus on research in emerging areas in biology such as synthetic biology, data science (including applications of AI), biodiversity and ecology (including chemical ecology) as well as innovations in biology education at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Ashish Dhawan, Chairman, Board of Trustees, said, “Ashoka’s aspiration is to build a leading research university, with a strong focus on teaching and learning. We have also made a strong commitment to the sciences in the last couple of years. Today is a clear milestone in this journey. With an eminent board of advisors, we are on the way to make this a leading and truly distinctive school.”

Ashok Trivedi added, “If the 20th century was the era of computing, the 21st century will be the era of biological sciences. When advances in biological sciences, bio engineering and advanced computing come together, they form a capability called synthetic biology which is one the focus areas for Ashoka. It is particularly relevant to India because it has applications in infectious diseases, agriculture, water, air, and it can produce energy from biomass. Even the venture capitalists and the capital markets are waking up to it. This is the time to be in biotech. ”

According to Nobel Laureate Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, “The lifesciences revolution is of fundamental importance in terms of producing amazing knowledge and is also of great practical importance. I hope Ashoka can drive that by being a private, independent and meritocratic institution that thrives on academic freedom and on interdisciplinary exchange of ideas with its broad liberal arts education.”