India's biomedical sector is set to receive a boost thanks to a new £80 million (around US$141 million) partnership.
The Biomedical Research Career Programme will be jointly funded over five years by UK medical research charity The Wellcome Trust and the Indian government's Department of Biotechnology.
The programme seeks to strengthen Indian biomedical science by providing around 75 fellowships for a range of researchers from newly qualified postdoctoral students to senior scientists.
"We have an extremely successful senior research fellowship scheme [in India] with 20 fellows active at the moment, and we recognised that there are lots more opportunities to support the excellent developing science base in India," Mark Walport, director of The Wellcome Trust, told SciDev.Net.
Walport says the partnership will fill an important gap in India's science funding infrastructure.
"What's [currently] lacking are the intermediate support schemes, which will train younger postdocs, people who have some postdoctoral experience but aren't yet independent."
K. VijayRaghavan, a director and professor of developmental genetics at the National Centre of Biological Science in Bangalore, India, told SciDev.Net that the partnership is a "major breakthrough" for the biomedical sector.
"What is lacking is multiple coordinated programmes for biomedical research … of exactly this kind, where you have a really outstanding partner to bring in global principles of selection and management and you have a commitment from the Indian government," he says.
The partnership will complement the Trust's recent investment in public health research. Walport told SciDev.Net that the Trust has made three grants totalling £15 million (around US$26 million), one of which is in partnership with the Public Health Foundation of India.
"There are lots of opportunities for funding concentration in India at the moment," says Walport.
He adds that The Wellcome Trust is funding a range of projects including one at the Christian Medical College in Valore, where scientists are developing new treatments for gastroenteritis in children, and work on the basic biology of malaria.