Infosys co-founder Senapathy “Kris” Gopalakrishnan has donated $1.8 million (about Rs 11 crore) to the US-based Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to establish a research partnership between CMU and the Centre for Brain Research (CBR) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.
The partnership will strategically leverage the research strengths of both institutions while enhancing the connection between CMU and India, a statement said.
CMU has become a leading center for brain research over the past two decades. CMU’s focus in neuroscience has been in computational and cognitive neuroscience, areas that are increasingly critical for linking biological and genetic mechanisms to understanding and discovering new therapeutic interventions of brain disorders.
The Centre for Brain Research was launched through a foundational gift from the Pratiksha Trust, a charitable trust established by Gopalakrishnan, and is focused on understanding and treating neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. “This partnership will provide opportunities for applying new technologies from fields ranging from imaging to machine learning to address critical questions about neuro-degeneration and normal aging,” a statement said.
The goal of the partnership will be to foster two-way interactions in the areas of brain research and education, and in closely related areas such as data sciences and engineering, human behavior and computation. The gift will be used to support post-doctoral fellowships, encourage interactions between CBR and CMU researchers, and provide strategic seed funding for research that connects CMU researchers with IISc scientists and engineers.
“I am profoundly grateful to Kris for his generous gift and his wonderful support of this partnership between CMU and IISc,” said CMU President Subra Suresh. “One of the most pressing challenges facing humanity is to understand the human brain. Our hope is that this new research collaboration will lead to discoveries about neuro–degenerative diseases that afflict the aging population, and that those findings help improve our diagnostic and treatment capabilities for such diseases.”
Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus is home to more than 1,000 students from India, comprising nearly 10 percent of the entire student population on campus. India also is home to the second largest concentration of CMU alumni. The partnership will explore avenues to further strengthen the intellectual ties between CMU and India, while addressing some of the most challenging research problems in brain research.
“Carnegie Mellon University is a world-renowned leader in many areas of research and education. I am very pleased to support President Subra Suresh’s strategic vision for the collaboration between CMU and IISc through this gift so that we can address one of the grand challenges of our times by understanding the human brain,” Gopalakrishnan said.
Professor Padmanabhan Balaram, director of the Indian Institute of Science, said, “As an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon, I know firsthand the enormous impact a collaboration of the kind envisioned here between CMU and IISc will have in enhancing our understanding of the human brain. I thank Mr. Gopalakrishnan for his support in creating CBR and for connecting its faculty with CMU through this gift.”
Gopalakrishnan co-founded Infosys in 1981, leading the company’s ascent to become one of the world’s largest IT service providers. He served as the chief executive officer and managing director of Infosys from 2007 to 2011. Recognized as a global business and technology thought leader, he was voted the top CEO (IT Services category) in Institutional Investor’s inaugural ranking of Asia’s Top Executives and selected as one of the winners of the second Asian Corporate Director Recognition Awards by Corporate Governance Asia in 2011. He also was selected to Thinkers 50, an elite list of global business thinkers, in 2009. He was elected president of India’s apex industry chamber Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for 2013-14, and served as one of the co-chairs of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2014.
IISc has grown to become India’s premier center for research and postgraduate education in science and engineering. Founded in 1909, the institute has offered several new areas of research, many of them for the first time in India. Many of India’s most distinguished scientists also have been associated with IISc as students or faculty, and the institute’s alumni head many major organizations in India and abroad.