The Centre for BioSystems Science and Engineering (BSSE) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was founded on June 4th, 2015, based on the critical mass that became evident due to the Interdisciplinary PhD programme in Bioengineering that started in August 2012 and a large grant from DBT entitled 'Bioengineering and Biodesign Initiative'. BSSE brings together biologists, engineering, and those who are trained as bioengineers. It is also extending its reach to medical doctors, agricultural scientists, and biomedical industries.
BSSE undertakes research and training in the broad multi-disciplinary area of biological systems with equal emphasis on science and engineering. To retain the multi-disciplinary character, the academic programme is continued as an interdisciplinary PhD programme. The students in this programme come from different backgrounds. We have a gradually growing comprehensive course curriculum that caters to different backgrounds and exposes students to many essential aspects of BSSE. The PhD programme aims to provide wide exposure to students in the core areas of biology and physiology, materials, mechanics, thermodynamics, etc. It provides them not just quantitative skills but an ability to solve problems in biology using mathematical modeling and engineering principles. As the programme develops, there will also be a progression towards systems and synthetic biology. Involving medical students and doctors is also on the anvil.
The approach to research in BSSE is two-pronged. The first is to conduct discovery-oriented research in biology using engineering principles. This is a complementary approach that dovetails with extensive biology research being conducted in IISc. Increasing number of biologists are getting involved with BSSE. The second is to engineer biological systems, biomedical instruments, and human-assistive devices for improving human healthcare and agricultural practices.
The Centre is new but it has some facilities that are already used by many students and faculty in IISc. The Centre aims to set up common laboratories based on common areas pursued at the Centre.
The Centre follows an inclusive approach to involve all interested IISc faculty and students in the activities of BSSE. Frequently held seminars and workshops facilitate this. We also have outreach programmes for undergraduates (e.g. Bioengineering Summer Training (BEST) programme). A seminar series by accomplished medical doctors, namely, “Distinguished Lectures in Medical Science and Practice”
Last but not the least, BSSE invites biomedical industries to contact us to work together to improve healthcare systems in India, and thereby contribute to the world at large.