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December 5, 2007

Purdue contingent to meet with industry, academic leaders in India

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
R. Graham Cooks (L) and Nathan Sanders
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Purdue researcher R. Graham Cooks and Discovery Park administrator Pankaj Sharma are traveling to India this month to meet with government, industry and university officials to explore research agreements in analytical instrumentation, climate change, energy, health care and pharmacy.

They also will discuss student internship and faculty exchange programs.

R. Graham Cooks
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Meetings are planned with officials at several research facilities, including the Indian Department of Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Inter-University Accelerator Center, Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research, Tata Energy Research Institute, and the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research.

The Purdue officials, who will spend two weeks in India beginning Wednesday (Dec. 5), also will meet with top executives at Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd. in Hyderabad; Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and Satyam Computer Services Ltd. in Hyderabad; and pharmaceutical manufacturer and health-care giant Wockhardt Ltd. in Mumbai.

Pankaj Sharma
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"Purdue and states like Indiana must look to form stronger educational and business relationships with countries like India to flourish in a global economy," said Sharma, associate director of Discovery Park. "Many of the economic and cultural challenges facing India also align with Discovery Park's mission to tackle challenges in areas ranging from alternative energy and health-care delivery to nanotechnology and cyberinfrastructure."

Cooks, Purdue's Henry Bohn Hass Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science, will join Sharma in meetings at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi to discuss collaborations involving his lab's mass spectrometry technologies.

Similar meetings on Cooks' technology and its applications in cancer detection and homeland security are planned with other industry and institution officials.

Cooks also will deliver a series of lectures titled "Ion Trap Mass Spectrometry: New Methods for Life Science and Trace Organic Analysis" to groups in Bombay, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Madras and Delhi. The lectures are co-sponsored by analytical instrument company Thermo Fisher and Discovery Park.

Experiments in Cooks' lab at Purdue led to mass spectrometers that could create ions easily and gently and contributed to the founding of Griffin Analytical Technologies in 2001 to manufacture miniaturized versions of mass spectrometers. Griffin is now located at the Purdue Research Park. These experiments also led to the establishment of Prosolia Inc., an Indianapolis-based company that manufactures ion sources for these instruments.

"India's economy has grown nearly 9 percent a year the past four years," Cooks said. "So we're talking about a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit in this country of 1.1 billion people where opportunities abound for U.S. universities seeking to establish partnerships with the country's leading industries and research institutions."

About one-third of India's population today is under the age of 15. Over the next five years, India will be responsible for nearly 25 percent of the increase in the world's working-age population, according to a World Bank report released in October.

Cooks, whose work at Purdue has led to 10 patents, also leads a team developing a technique to rapidly detect and precisely identify bacteria without time-consuming treatments usually required. The technique, called desorption electrospray ionization, could help create a new class of fast, accurate detectors for applications ranging from food safety to homeland security.

A native of South Africa, Cooks came to Purdue in 1971 as co-director of the Department of Chemistry's Mass Spectrometry Center. He was named center director and associate professor in 1975 before becoming a named professor in 1980. He was granted his distinguished professorship in 1990. His specialization includes instrument development, surface analysis and ion scattering.

Purdue ranked second in the nation among U.S. public institutions in international student enrollment for the 2006-07 academic year and is fifth in the nation among all institutions, according to the Institute of International Education. Of the 4,994 international students enrolled at Purdue in the current academic year, there are 1,182 students from India, followed by South Korea (818), China (778), Taiwan (243) and Indonesia (197).

Purdue also has more than 85 faculty of Indian origin, mostly in engineering, management and science.

Sharma, who moved to the United States nearly 25 years ago from India, said this trip will foster academic, industrial and political relationships that will spark Indiana's economy and create jobs in the United States. Purdue officials also will update Indian research and university leaders about the success of Discovery Park, its interdisciplinary focus on research, and how it has created jobs and helped launch 24 businesses, most of which are now located at the Purdue Research Park.

A contingent led by Charles Rutledge, Purdue's vice president for research, signed an agreement with the Indian Department of Science and Technology last February to establish formal research collaborations and exchanges of researchers, students and faculty between Purdue and Indian institutions.

As a follow up to that visit, Sharma said Purdue plans to conduct two research workshops  - on carbon nanotubes and nanomedicine, bionanotechnology and pharmaceutical manufacturing - in collaboration with Indian Institutions and corporations during 2008. 

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, (765) 496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources:   Pankaj Sharma, (765) 496 7452, sharma@purdue.edu

R. Graham Cooks, (765) 494-5263, cooks@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

PHOTO CAPTION:

Purdue chemist R. Graham Cooks, at left, works with student Nathan Sanders on a mass spectrometer the Cooks team is developing. Efforts to improve mass spectrometer technology, which could be used in law enforcement and pharmaceutical development, are the types of interdisciplinary research now under way at Discovery Park's Bindley Bioscience Center. (Purdue News Service file photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/UNS/images/+2005/cooks-bindley.jpg

Note to Journalists: Journalists interested in talking with Sharma and Cooks about the upcoming trip to India or while they are there can arrange interviews by contacting Phillip Fiorini, Purdue News Service, at (765) 496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu.

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