The Academic Research Program at the Centre covers diverse areas of Life Sciences with emphasis on Cancer Biology. Principal Investigators attempt to unravel the molecular mechanisms responsible for many manifestations of cancer using in vitro cell line and animal model systems. We have dedicated scientists who ask very basic and pertinent questions such as-- What makes a normal cell to convert into a cancer cell? What are the underlying genetic changes that could bring about this transformation? What causes some of these cancers to be inherited, how does the disease spread? What is the role of immune response? Why does cancer become aggressive and why many of the cancers resist treatments? Why are some cancers cured and while others are not? Is life style a reason? Can tobacco or smoking cause cancer? etc. etc. Some of the research that happens in the institute is a little more abstract. A set of dedicated scientists wonder about size and shape of organelles inside a cell or ask what can we learn from some humble organism such as the drosophila or how the process of development is linked to diseases such as cancer. Another set of PIs solve or use structures of molecules and ask why and why not about the way these structure and their alterations dictate normal and disease conditions.
Education and Training is a vital mandate of the centre, and scientists of the centre participate in teaching and training activities at various degree colleges and departments of the University of Mumbai, DY Patil University, and other neighbouring Universities. Senior scientists of the centre are members of national and international boards of various research committees.
Since 2006, the centre has been affiliated to the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI), a deemed University under the UGC Act. At present, 21 scientists of the Centre are recognized as research guides for the Ph.D. degree programs in Life Sciences.
Admission to the Ph.D. Program
Applications for the Ph.D. programs are invited through advertisements through newspapers and online media and on institute website every year. A candidate, and an Indian citizen can apply for the programs through online. The selection takes place by short listing the candidates based on their performance in an entrance examination (online) and an interview at the ACTREC.
Eligibility Criteria for Applicants
Students with a two years M.Sc. (Applied Biology / Biochemistry / Bioinformatics / Biophysics / Biotechnology / Botany / Life Sciences / Microbiology / Molecular Biology / Zoology or related Biological Sciences), M.Tech.(Bioinformatics / Biotechnology), M.V.Sc. or M.Pharm. from a recognized University, with over 60% aggregate marks can apply for the entrance examination. Candidates awaiting for results can also apply. Candidates who have completed their post-graduate course of only one year are not eligible for the Doctoral Programs at the centre.
How to Apply
Candidates fulfilling the minimum eligibility requirements shall APPLY ONLINE. The application fee transfer through NEFT/RTGS/ Debit Card/ Credit Card/ UPI (No fees for female/ SC/ ST/ Physically Handicapped candidates).
The candidates who fulfill the eligibility criteria will be informed to appear for an entrance examination (online) in their selected cities. Those who clear the exams are informed through their email Ids along with the interview dates. The short listed candidates list will also be displayed on the institute’s website about the interview dates.
In addition, candidates who have qualified the Junior Research Fellowship(JRF) from CSIR/ UGC/ DBT or other recognized agencies in the national level and applied will be called for the direct interview at ACTREC. Candidates who have appeared the JGEEBILS exam, ACTREC will post a list of candidates and are eligible to apply at ACTREC. These candidates must APPLY ONLINE.
Final admission of successful candidates into the Ph.D. program is subject to the candidates satisfying HBNI eligibility criteria and completion of other institutional requirements like medical examination. On admission into the Ph.D. program, the candidates are offered Junior Research Fellowships.
Junior Research Fellows (JRFs) at ACTREC receive a monthly stipend of Rs. 31,000/- + 27% HRA (if hostel facility is not allotted) as applicable. The Fellowship is paid on every month after receipt of the monthly attendance certificate from the Research Guide / Principal Investigator. Candidates having Fellowship from agencies like CSIR, DBT, UGC, etc. can avail external Fellowship. Junior Research Fellowships are tenable for a period of 2 years, extendable by a further period of not more than 2 years, on an annual review/renewal basis. JRFs are upgraded to Senior Research Fellows (SRFs) after two years and receive monthly stipend of Rs. 35,000/- + 27% HRA (if hostel facility is not allotted) as applicable, on the recommendation of the Doctoral Committee (DC) after their performance in an open seminar. Extension for successive years is considered after extensive evaluation of the work done during the previous year. JRFs and SRFs are not regular employees of the Centre and will not be considered for any direct appointment.
- The Fellow will have to open a savings bank account at Central Bank of India, ACTREC branch to facilitate remittances of monthly Fellowship on due date. To open the bank account Fellow has to produce necessary documents at the bank branch.
The Fellow will have to make deposit of Rs. 30,000/- (Rupees Thirty Thousand only) (for SC/ST candidate security deposit Rs. 20,000/-) as security which may be remitted in four installments as indicated below:
- First installment of Rs. 10,000/- at the time of joining.
- Remaining amount of Rs. 20,000/- for general and Rs. 10,000/- for SC/ST may be deposited by deduction from monthly Fellowship @ Rs.5000/- per month.
The security deposit is refundable without interest at the time of relieving the Fellow from the Institute after adjusting the dues towards any loss sustained by the institute on account of his negligence and any such other adjustment as may be ordered by the Competent Authority. Security deposit will be forfeited if the Fellowship is terminated on disciplinary grounds or the Fellow leaves the centre without his resignation being accepted before completion of Fellowship period or if the Fellow leaves the Centre within 2 years of joining.
The Fellow will have to observe the Work and Conduct rules being applicable in force from time to time at the ACTREC campus. The Fellow will have to fill online anti-ragging undertaking from UGC websites (www.antiragging.in and www.amanmovement.org) and submit the acknowledgement at the time of joining (as per updated UGC regulations).
Hostel facilities are made available on first come first served basis. Those JRF/SRFs who have not been provided hostel accommodation should make their own living arrangements.
JRFs and SRFs can avail medical facility under CHSS scheme as per DAE rules.
Fellows have access to a well equipped gymnasium and indoor facilities located in the Faculty Guest House ‘Retreat’ on the campus.
The subsidized canteen and cafeteria facilities are available at ACTREC on payment basis.
Common Instrument Facilities
Sophisticated state-of-the-art equipments are commissioned in the Common Instrument Rooms. These instruments include high-speed and ultra centrifuges, radioactivity counters, spectrophotometers, fluorimeter, high pressure liquid chromatography systems, gel documentation system, ELISA reader and UV transilluminator. Equipment for genomics studies include an image analysis system for comparative genomic hybridization, dHPLC system, microarray system, tissue arrayer, real time PCR and DNA sequencers. The proteomic facility has state-of-art mass spectrometers- MALDI-TOF-TOF (BrukersUltraflex II) and 5600+Quadrapole TOF (ABSCIX)..The other equipment arenanodrop spectrometer, bioanalyzer, flow cytometers, CD polarimeter, micro PET/CT/SPECT animal imaging system, XRD and isothermal calorimeter. ACTREC’s Digital Imaging facility houses several advanced, state of the art imaging platforms, including: LSM510 confocal microscope, Multiphoton confocal LSM780 microscope, 3i Mariana spinning disk confocal microscope, Leica SP8 confocal microscope with STED super resolution system, Axio Imager .Z1, and AxioVert 200M. The facilities provide services to the entire ACTREC community and external users.
Assignment of Research Project to JRF
The selected JRFs visit the laboratories that have openings for Ph.D programs. On the basis of their discussion with respective Principal Investigators, the JRFs submit their preferences for the laboratories they wish to join. Similarly, Principal Investigators also submit their preferences and depending on best possible match between the two preferences, the JRF is allocated to a specific laboratory.
Before initiating the Ph.D. project work, all JRFs at ACTREC go through a core training course of HBNI, which comprises of different facets of Cancer Biology through several modules encompassing disciplines such as Cell Biology and Cancer Cell Biology; Molecular Biology and Epigenetics; Genetics, Stem Cell Biology and Immunology; and Macromolecular Biophysics and Statistics. On completion of the core course, the JRFs take up the requisite number of Electives in areas such as Tumor Immunology; Carcinogenesis, Chemoprevention and DNA repair; Angiogenesis and Metastasis; Cancer Therapeutics; Deregulation of Cell Growth in Cancer; Animal Models in Cancer Research; and Structural Bioinformatics, Biophysics and Structural Biology. JRFs are also given orientation in Research Methodologies, Intellectual Property Rights, Epidemiology and Bioinformatics, and Orientation to Cancer Clinics. The JRFs also receive training in using instruments and equipments, Orientation to Advanced Techniques and Laboratory Safety Guidelines. The progress of the JRFs is monitored through a series of written tests, take home assignments, presentations based on the lectures delivered in each module, and seminar presentations. The JRFs have to score an average of 60% marks in the Cancer Biology core course and electives. The JRFs will be evaluated by research guides after completion of one year and the marks given are added to the cumulative total marks.
Open Viva-voce Examination
As per HBNI guidelines, the PhD candidate has to defend his/her thesis in an open viva voce in the presence of thesis reviewer/s, doctoral committee members, faculty and students.
Procedure for Redressal of Grievances By Mentor / St
A healthy student-mentor relationship is of atmost importance in research environment for the career of both, student and mentor. On rare occasions, when a difference of opinion arises between student and mentor, it is expected that the matter is resolved by open communication between both sides. If this attempt fails, then a process is required to either ensure that conflicts are resolved in an appropriate fashion or find an alternative legitimate solution. The process is outlined below and at each step the minutes of the process and decision is recorded. These discussions are confidential.
- Important Clause: The committees (described below) responsible for resolving such conflicts should ask for evidence of communication on the specific issue before entertaining any complaint, either from a student or from a mentor. Insufficient evidence will result in the committees asking the complainant to first discuss the issue with the other party. If the evidence shows that the complainant has made a genuine attempt to resolve the matter with the other party and the conflict has not been resolved, the following steps are followed.
- First year students: First year students, who haven’t faced 1st Doctoral Committee (DC) meeting, either the Student or the Guide should approach and inform the Academic Committee (AC). The AC should meet both of them individually and attempt to identify the nature of the problem and provide a possible solution.
- Students in the second year and above: For students who have cleared the OGCE and have moved on, the student or mentor should approach the internal members of the DC. The DC members should meet both the mentor and the student individually and attempt to identify the problem and provide a possible solution. Once the problem is identified, the DC can provide a solution that will hopefully resolve the issue, failing which the student/mentor can take the problem to the ACas described above.
- If all of the above intervention methods do not resolve the issue, the AC Chairperson directs the matter to the Director, ACTREC. A committee will be set up by the Director, ACTREC which will have an external counsellor as one of the committee member.
Training Programs (Observership / summer / short)
ACTREC offers an active Training Program which plays a vital role in creating in the minds of bright, young students an awareness about cutting-edge research carried out at the Centre, and the opportunities available for pursuing cancer research as a career. During the training, students get to work on small scientific queries under the close supervision of scientists and clinicians of the Centre. ACTREC also accepts staff or doctoral students of academic/ research institutions either as observers or as trainees, to learn specific techniques/ technologies that they can then put into use in their parent institution. Training requests from individuals who have completed academic studies and who wish to get exposure to the research milieu are also accepted.
Students or Faculty of academic or research institutions who wish to observe specific techniques can approach the Centre’s Principal Investigators directly for Observership for not more than 15 days.
ACTREC scientists take M.Sc.(I/II) students during their college summer breaks. Students can apply directly to individual scientist. The period of training vary from one to two months.
Short Term Training
Students (Bachelor’s or Master’s) and whose college requires a dissertation work to be conducted at a research centre as a part of their curriculum can approach Principal Investigators of the Centre for short term training in specific areas of Cancer Research. Faculty/ teachers/staff or doctoral students of academic/ research institutions who wish to learn specific techniques, or persons who have completed their academic courses and are not presently employed, also can approach the PIs for training in a bid to get exposure to the research milieu. The period of training can vary from one to six months, extendable in exceptional cases.
Those who wish to join the Center as a Trainee or an Observer may send an email enquiry directly to the Scientist/Clinician by attaching CV, mentioning the reason for seeking training and the period of training (with start and end dates). Trainees should apply well in advance. Currently, the Centre charges Rs. 3000/- pm for observership/ training fees from students and staff affiliated to privately funded colleges and institutions.