A 3-member delegation led by the Union Health Minister, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, currently on an official visit to France met the France Minister for Health, Youth Affairs and Sports, Ms. Roselyne Bachelot on 9th January at Paris. During the meeting, besides bilateral issues relating to the health sector, the following areas of cooperation were identified for focussed attention; Medical Research, Biotechnology, Development of vaccine, Promotion of Indian Systems of medicines and cooperation between ICMR and INSERM of France. The Indian Ambassador for France Mr. Ranjan Mathai and officials of both the countries also participated in the meeting. The Health Minister also visited the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and Robert Debre Hospital, Paris. The Director General of INSERM, Prof. Andre Syrota and the Director of the Hospital Dr. (Ms). Christine were also present with him. The INSERM is the only French public research body entirely dedicated to human health. Its researchers are committed to studying all diseases, whether common or rare, through their research in the fields of biology, medicine and public health. INSERM’s principal mission is to facilitate exchange between: Basic research, sometimes defined as “guided by curiosity”, designed to shed light on the unknown, without any specific objective; Clinical research, conducted with patients; Therapeutic or diagnostic research, the purpose of which is to study diseases; Public health research, aimed at gaining a better understanding of health mechanisms, notably through the study of particular population groups. In order to fulfill this mission, the Institute has worked in close partnership with other public or private research institutions and care centers such as hospitals from the outset. Today, 85% of Inserm’s 339 research laboratories are housed within university hospital or cancer treatment centers, the others being located on research campuses of the CNRS (French scientific research institute) or of the Pasteur and Curie India and France Identify Areas of Cooperation in the Health Sector A Memorandum of Understanding between the ICMR and INSERM was signed on 1st February 2007 for strengthening of research in biomedical sciences. In pursuance of the MoU, a number of Joint Working Groups have been held, the last being the 6th ICMR-INSERM JWG meeting held in Paris on 8th June 2007. The following areas have been identified for collaboration by ICMR and INSERM: – Infectious diseases (TB, AIDS, Malaria, Leishmaniadis); Human Genetics and Genomics; Neurosciences; Surveillance/epidemiology; Stem cell research; Bioethics; and Clinical research etc. At present, eight joint collaborative projects between Indian and French scientists are in progress and eight projects have been successfully completed. In the last JWG meeting, it was agreed that both the agencies will finalize a topic out of four areas already identified viz. Translational Research, Chikungunya, Biobanking, Immunogenetics and Cancer for the next workshop to be held in India during March-April 2008.

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