Bioinformatics, the convergence of information technology and biotechnology, which is the present day frontline discipline in science, has been attaining rapid developments in India. This scientific discipline emerged simultaneously with the developments of several genome- sequencing programmes launched in 1980s. The Biotechnology Information System Networking (BTISNet) programme of the Department is established in almost all parts of the country through a dedicated computer / satellite linked communication system connecting research Institutions, Universities and educational Institutions in different parts of the country. The network system offers a single window biological information resource and a common platform for exchange of information among the scientific community thereby enhancing advanced research in inter-disciplinary areas of modern biology and biotechnology. Today the facility is directly accessed by more than 25000 registered users through 61 Bioinformatics Centers of the network in various parts of the country. The recent user level analysis of the Bioinformatics Centres showed that during last five years the number of users has tremendously increased and in this year alone 8000 new regular users have been registered in the network through various Bioinformatics Centres. Focus of BTISnet has been on the following areas viz. establishment of infrastructure facility and platforms for technology, data transfer and commercialization; organisation, access, search and retrieval of biological information; analysis and interpretation of the biological data through computational approach including visualization, modeling and simulation and development of algorithms for highly parallel processing of complex biological structures; advanced research in frontier areas of bioinformatics and computational biology; human resource developments in bioinformatics; international co-operation with leading institutions, organizations and countries in the world and establishment of effective academia-industry.

Biotechnology Information Networking System (btisnet)

The network system consists of an apex Centre at DBT head quarters, New Delhi which is linked to 60 Bioinformatics Centres. There are five Centres of Excellence (COEs), ten DICs and forty-five Sub-DICs. The location of these Centres is given in annexure VI. These Centres are the data input and data dissemination centres of the network, information of which can be accessed at web site or the individual web site of the bioinformatics centres. In addition to the dissemination / exchange of in-house developed databases and technology packages in a well secured manner, mirror sites of widely used public domain genomic and proteomic databases are also hosted in the network. India is the first country in the world to have established a nation wide distributed network systemexclusively for the advancement of modern biology and biotechnology and it is recognized as a model network system for dissemination of scientific knowledge / technologies.

Btisnet Advancements

Centre of excellence

Considering the rapid advancement and fast changing dimension in this frontier area, five DICs, MKU, Madurai, IISc, Bangalore, University of Pune, Pune, Bose Institute, Kolkata and JNU, New Delhi that have shown excellent performance particularly in advanced research, manpower training and information management and dissemination were given the status of Centres of Excellence. The infrastructure facility and manpower of these centres have been strengthened and flexibility provided in their governance. These centers have initiated Ph.D. programmes in Bioinformatics along with postdoctoral training. They have also been supporting the Bioinformatics industry in the country.


Area of specialization of COEs


Priority Area

Bose Institute

Molecular Modeling & Genetic Engineering

Indian Institute of Science

Structural Biology & Bioinformatics

Jawaharlal Nehru University

Computational Genomics

Madurai Kamaraj University

Genetic Engineering & Structural Bioinformatics

University of Pune

Computational Biology & Genomics



Establishment of DICs by upgrading sub-DICs

Five Sub-DICs viz. Kerala Agricultural University, Trissur; Anna University, Chennai; M.S. University, Baroda; University of Calcutta, Kolkata; and Pondicherry University, Pondicherry were up-graded to the status of DICs during the current year. Up-gradation of these Centres has made great impacts in expanding their activities towards human resource development in Bioinformatics, R & D activities and to initiate new developmental activities in database and software.

New bioinformatics centers

Steps have been taken to establish four new Sub- DICs at CARI, Portblair, College of Engineering, Raipur, T. M. Bahalpur University, Bahalpur and BISR, Ranchi.

Advancement in Networking

The capacity of networking of BTISNet has been enhanced through dedicated leased lines, VSATs and Microwave lines. Remote Centres with inadequate ISP coverage have been networked through satellite communication system by providing VSATs. The BHU and NEHU centers have been networked through DVBVSATs. The super computer facility at IIT, Delhi was also networked as a part of the Biogrid India (VPN), for facilitating the use of this super computer by the VPN nodes through remote login.

Human Resource Development in Bioinformatics

Advance diploma courses

These courses are conducted by five major Universities viz. MKU, Madurai, University of Pune, Pune; University of Calcutta, Kolkata; JNU, New Delhi and Pondichery University, Pondicherry. Twenty candidates are being admitted in each course through an entrance test. Passed out Students found excellent placement opportunities in different industrial and research organizations.

Post-graduate courses (M.Sc., M. Tech, Ph.D)

Five BTISNet Centres n JNU, University of Pune, Bose Institute, Anna University and National Brain Research Centre run Ph.D programmes in Bioinformatics. Some BTIS Centres also provide two months summer training for the postgraduate students in Bioinformatics. Two Fellows each from NBRC and University of Pune were awarded Ph.D. University of Pune also conducts M.Sc. in Bioinformatics with the annual intake of 30 students. SASTRA, Tanjavur and IIIT, Allahabad implemented M.Tech. courses in Bioinformatics. Several new centers have initiated Ph.D programme during the year.

Traineeship / Studentship

The BTIS Centres including the Apex BTIC in DBT have been providing studentship / Traineeship scheme for doing 6 months project works for partial fulfillment of students of M.Sc. and M.C.A. degrees. More than 50 students have done their project work in different BTIS Centres. Traineeship and studentships are being supported with stipends. In order to attract brilliant students towards Bioinformatics the stipend was enhanced from Rs. 3000 to 5000 per month for a period of six months.

Short-term training and workshop programmes

In order to train the scientists / students in various aspects of Bioinformatics, short-term training courses / workshops upto 30 days are conducted through BTIS Centres. During the year more than 100 courses were conducted by different Centers and a total of 1700 personnels were trained in Bioinformatics.

Developmental Activities

Database development

The Centers have brought large volume of information into the databases and the data volume has increased 3-4 fold during the year. 33 new databases were initiated by the BTIS Centers. The Apex Center was initiated steps to evaluate the quality and prepared certain guidelines to organize the data in a common format. The BTIC has also initiatied integration of the databases on a common portal.

Software development

The Centres have also developed several software packages for addressing the biological problems and most of the software packages developed by the Centers meet international standards. Centres got three patents, one copyright and filed 8 copyrights.

R & D activities in bioinformatics

The Department over the years has introduced various activities in bioinformatics starting from infrastructure building to resource generation, networking and educational activities. These activities have promoted expertise in doing hardcore research in Bioinformatics. Recognising the potential, the Department organized a Brain Storming Meeting to identify areas for R & D activities in Bioinformatics. The identified research areas were advertised in the Newspapers, Current Science journal and web sites of DBT. More than 70 proposals were received and are being processed.

Important Meetings

Brain storming session in bioinformatics

A Brain storming session on Bioinformatics organized on 5th February 2004 at Anna University, Chennai identified new thrust areas for R&D including development of databases such as SNP, EST etc; new algorithms for Genome and Proteome analysis; Bioinformatics tools for analysis of cellular functions and metabolic pathways; Analysis of systems biology; Modeling, simulation and drug design; Identification of key pathways of infectious agents and Development of teaching and e-learning modules, etc.

XVth Coordinators Meeting

The XVth BTISNet Coordinators meeting organized during February 6–7, 2004 at Anna University, Chennai considered programmes under five-subject specializations of Computational Biology / Genomic Research; Health; Crop improvement; Biodiversity & Environmental Biology and Networking & Resource sharing. Recommendations were made for further improvement in the activities of the BTISNet. The recommendations have been published on BTISNet website.

Brain storming meeting

A Brain Storming Meeting on ‘Current Trends and Future Perspective in Bioinformatics – Indian Scenario” organized at Hyderabad through CDFD on September 14, 2004 considered the progress made by India in the field of Bioinformatics and to propose a road map for development of this discipline further in the country. Keeping in view manifold jump in the amount of information being generated due to major advances in experimental techniques in biology and the consequent requirement for extensive use of computer for the management of information and data mining. This meeting also helped in drawing suggestions from the academia and industry for National Biotechnology Policy being formulated by the DBT. The meeting report is available on BTISnet website (

International Collaboration

Indo Malaysia cooperation in bioinformatics

The department has entered into bilateral cooperation with Malaysia for collaboration in areas of bioinformatics including sharing of bioinformatics resources; Post-doctoral exchange programme; Shortterm attachment for training; Exchange visits of scientists as course facilitators; Exploratory visits to identify new areas in biotechnology and Joint research programmes.

NBRI collaboration with GBIF

NBRI, Lucknow has entered into collaboration with Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and established GBIF India node at NBRI. Initiative has also been taken to link other Indian institutions working on biodiversity informatics to this node. About 15 institutions have already become the members.

Impact of Bioinformatics

Infrastructure for bioinformatics

Significant achievements have been made in the area of infrastructure developments. Dedicated leased line connectivity with high bandwidth for Internet access and LAN / WAN connectivity has been established in all Bioinformatics Centres. Many Bioinformatics Centres have established subject-specific web servers. TBGRI, Thiruvananthapuram and NCL, Pune have established web servers for biodiversity informatics and NBRI has established a GBIF nodal port for the dissemination of biodiversity informatics. The performance of BioGrid and the super computing facility at IIT, Delhi has been well appreciated. The Centres while undertaking Bioinformatics activities provide the whole range of IT supports in their respective host institutions. DBT secured 4th position in e-governance implementation among 69 central government departments and first among the scientific departments.

Sharing of resources

The Bioinformatics facility is directly shared by the scientists and students of the host institutions and near by institutions of each Bioinformatics Centre. The BTISNet facilities have been used for preparation of more than 60 Ph. D. thesis, 3000 publications and 700 project / other reports. The number of registered users in the network system has gone up to 25,000. DBT is promoting inter institutional linkage and several Centers have initiated joint R & D activities. Pondicherry University has made a tie-up with Vector Control Research Center and IICT for joint R & D ventures. Similarly University of Kashmir has made a tie-up with Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Srinagar for the development of database on Medicinal plants of Jammu and Kashmir.

Enhancement of quality publications

Through the support of Bioinformatics more than 3000 publications were published in various reputed peerreviewed journals. Out of these, about 230 publications are the direct outcome of the Centres. Various other publications like Directories, Brochures, Proceedings, etc. were also published which are of immense use in Biotechnology growth.

Databases and software products

The Centres have developed 128 databases in various aspects of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. Fiftyseven software packages have been developed and are being successfully used to address various issues in biology. Of these, 35 software packages are being used in molecular biology, 5 in health care, 5 in agricultural informatics, 5 in dairy development, 12 in management of biodiversity and 5 for addressing the general issues like library management, literature searching, etc. The IMT center has come up with a suite of programmes for computer aided vaccine design. A large number of computer programmes are integrated in single software where users can input their sequences once only and use all the programmes in a single command. In addition, the programs have been recorded in C++ language instead of the original PERL in order to improve their performance. The value addition through integration makes this software package attractive for the rapid prediction of potential vaccine candidates in an antigen.

Websites of DBT

DBT websites

The web site of DBT is regularly up-dated and provides detailed information about all activities of the DBT. All publications of DBT, programmes, guidelines for project proposals, performa, policy documents, biosafety, patent facilitation cell, contact details of nodal officers, Institutional details, fellowships and training programmes, etc. are made available through this site. The site is also linked with the web site of BTISNet. It is also maintaining an online women discussion forum SWATI, which facilitates the interaction between women scientists and people working for women development.

BTISNet website

The website provides an upto- date information on the various activities of 60 Bioinformatics Centres distributed throughout India under BTISNet. The site provides details of infrastructure, resources, important meetings, bioinformatics training calendar, etc. The India Map on the home page is hyper linked to various BTISNet Centres. BTISNet is now in the process of integrating the databases developed by different Centers, which will be made available through the site very soon.

Project Registry Database (PRD)

The Department is maintaining a project registry database, which was jointly developed by NIC Cell, DBT and BTIC. The Project Registry Cell (PRC) is the gateway for receiving project proposals submitted by investigators for financial support. Once a project is received in the PRC, its outline information is fed into the PRC database and an acknowledgement is sent to the Investigator stating the Project Registration number and name of the dealing officer in DBT. After this the Internal Screening Committee (ISC) of DBT evaluates its prima facie suitability and decides about further processing. In case the project doesn’t fall under DBT’s priority areas, the PI is informed at this stage. The Task Force / BRPC approved projects are updated in the database and uploaded on the DBT’s website ( On an average 7-8 ISC meetings are conducted in a year. The status of the proposals submitted to DBT can be ascertained by contacting the respective dealing officer or by sending an e-mail to

NIC Cell in DBT

The NIC cell at DBT has made significant contribution towards providing IT support to DBT. Following the success of installation of two DVB VSATs one each at NEHU, Shillong and BHU, Varanasi a detailed analysis of networking status of all 61 Bioinformatics Centres was carried out and fifteen Centres have been recommended where DVB VSATs is proposed to be installed through NIC. The NIC has completed creation of website for Biosafety rules in India. This would bring more transparency and better impact on the Biotech industries as far as safety and regulatory measures are concerned. The website development on Bio-pesticides is in progress and extraction of material from more than 100 project reports has been completed. The site would be launched shortly. Further with the support of NIC, interaction has been made with NICSI for the development of Bioinformatics Portal, which would consolidate information on the developments made by BTIS Centres. The existing Project Monitoring System (PRC database) is being reengineered as a web enabled application to make it more user-friendly. Steps have also been taken by NIC Cell to promote e-governance in the Department. Also NIC Cell along with BTIC is imparting training on various IT tools and their application to the scientific staff of DBT.

Other Activities

Training Calendar on Bioinformatics 2004-05

An Annual training Calendar for the year 2004-05 has been published. Ninety seven training programs in eight different areas have been conducted as per the schedule. Over 2000 persons received training from various Centres of BTISNet during the year. The electronic copy of this publication has been published in BTISNet website:

Indian bioinformatics society (IBS)

It has been planned to form an Indian Bioinformatics Society (IBS) through one of the BTISNet Centres. The proposed society is to work towards advancement of Bioinformatics as a frontline research discipline, success of Bioinformatics as industrial activity and promotion of advanced teaching and training.

XVIth BTISNet Co-ordinators Meeting

The Department has so far conducted fifteen Annual BTISNet Coordinators meeting successfully since 1989. The Coordinators meeting provides a forum for discussing various Bioinformatics issues including sharing of resources and expertise