Friday September 21, 2018
Home Indian Diaspora Indian origin...

Indian origin scientist awarded Russia’s highest tech award

0
//
41
Engineering researcher Jay Baliga in his EGRC lab. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD
Republish
Reprint
Engineering researcher Jay Baliga in his EGRC lab. PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD
Engineering researcher Jay Baliga in his EGRC lab.      PHOTO BY ROGER WINSTEAD

By Hardev Sanotra 

St Petersburg: B. Jayant Baliga, a US-based Indian-origin scientist, is being awarded Russia’s top technology award in recognition of his work as a major development in energy management which brought about huge increase in efficiency and major savings.

The award will presented to Professor Baliga and Shuji Nakamura on Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a ceremony here.

Nakamura, a Nobel Laureate, is being recognised for his work on blue light emitting diodes (LEDs). In Russia, the Global Energy Prize is known as the electronics equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Professor Baliga invented the digital switch or the insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) while working at General Electrical research & development centre in New York state in the US in 1983.

“Every equipment from your refrigerator to lights to motor vehicles has the need to use energy efficiently. If you take away the IGBT today, almost everything will come to a standstill,” Baliga told a visiting IANS correspondent on the eve of receiving the award.

Scientific American magazine called him among the ‘eight heroes of the semiconductor revolution’, and President Barack Obama awarded him the highest American technology prize last year. He is the 2014 recipient of the IEEE Medal of Honour, a rare distinction.

Professor Baliga, who now teaches at the North Carolina University, said that his invention combines two streams of electronics and electrical engineering and has possibly saved the world around $24 trillion dollars by raising efficiency, according to one detailed calculation.

“I got zero out of it. But then I did it all for humanity.”

Of course, says Prof Baliga, that he did make some money when he started three companies, but these were financed by venture capitalists who exited with enormous profits at the right time.

He says every motor today is at least 40 percent more efficient, the light bulb like the CFL better by almost 75 percent and a motor vehicle saves over 10 percent fuel because of his invention. He has written 19 books and over 500 papers in peer-reviewed journals.

Baliga passed out of IIT Madras before going to the US for his MS and PhD after which he joined GE where he spent over 15 years.

After his ‘switch’ was invented, several of his colleagues told him that it would not work, and many scientists said he would fall “flat on his face”. But he said it stood the test of time.

The chairman of GE at that time, Jack Welch flew down especially to meet him when he heard what it could do. GE used the switch in the several of the equipments it sold, including medical devices.

A US citizen since 2000, he now has very little connection with India and does not travel to his home country much, especially after his parents and parents of his wife passed away. But, says Prof Baliga, an invention like his is unlikely in India, because it needs huge research infrastructure to be in place from universities to industries.

He feels that India has a potential which has not been fully used, although in software “it has made great strides”.

Could a Nobel be on its way in the future? “I used to say no way,” but with so many recognitions and this “global prize where I am being feted with a Nobel Laureate, who knows?”, he says. His only regret is that India does not know much about him.

“Top scientists that I meet always ask me, why has India not recognised your achievement?” And with characteristic modesty, Baliga told IANS, “I tell them that perhaps my country does not know about what I did.” (IANS)

(Hardev Sanotra is in St Petersburg at the invitation of St Petersburg International Economic Forum. He can be contact at hardev.sanotra@ians.in)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

Scientists Discover A New Method To Fight Alzheimer’s, Dementia

Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer's or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the age of 85.

0
Alzheimer's
One hemisphere of a healthy brain (L) is pictured next to one hemisphere of a brain of a person suffering from Alzheimer disease. VOA
Eliminating dead-but-toxic cells occurring naturally in the brains of mice designed to mimic Alzheimer’s slowed neuron damage and memory loss associated with the disease, according to a study published Wednesday that could open a new front in the fight against dementia.The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals.

Scientists have long known that these dead-beat cells gather in regions of the brain linked to old age diseases ranging from osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis to Parkinson’s and dementia.

Prior research had also shown that the elimination of senescent cells in ageing mice extended their healthy lifespan.

But the new results, published in Nature, are the first to demonstrate a cause-and-effect link with a specific disease, Alzheimer’s, the scientists said.

Alzheimer's
A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

But any treatments that might emerge from the research are many years down the road, they cautioned.

In experiments, a team led by Tyler Bussian of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota used mice genetically modified to produce the destructive, cobweb-like tangles of tau protein that form in the neurons of Alzheimer’s patients.

The mice were also programmed to allow for the elimination of “zombie” cells in the same region.

“When senescent cells were removed, we found that the diseased animals retained the ability to form memories, and eliminated signs of inflammation,” said senior author Darren Baker, also from the Mayo Clinic.

The mice likewise failed to develop Alzheimer’s signature protein “tangles”, and retained normal brain mass.

 

Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer’s. VOA

Keeping zombies at bay

A closer look revealed that the “zombies” belonged to a class of cells in the brain and spinal cord, called glia, that provide crucial support and insulation to neurons.

“Preventing the build-up of senescent glia can block the cognitive decline and neuro-degeneration normally experienced by these mice,” Jay Penney and Li-Huei Tsai, both from MIT, wrote in a comment, also in Nature.

Bussian and his team duplicated the results with pharmaceuticals, suggesting that drugs could one day slow or block the emergence of Alzheimer’s by keeping these zombie cells at bay.

“There hasn’t been a new dementia drug in 15 years, so it’s exciting to see the results of this promising study in mice,” said James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer’s Society in London.

 

Alzheimer's
The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals. IANS

For Lawrence Rajendran, deputy director of the Dementia Research Institute at King’s College London, the findings “open up new vistas for both diagnosis and therapy for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.”

Up to now, dementia research has been mostly focused on the diseased neurons rather than their neighboring cells.

“It is increasingly becoming clear that other brains cells play a defining role,” Rajendran added.

Several barriers remain before the breakthrough can be translated into a “safe, effective treatment in people,” Pickett and other said.

The elderly often have lots of harmless brain cells that look like the dangerous senescent cells a drug would target, so the molecule would have to be good at telling the two apart.

Also Read: Common Painkillers Triple Harmful Side Effects in Dementia

Worldwide, about seven percent of people over 65 suffer from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia, a percentage that rises to 40 percent above the age of 85.

The number afflicted is expected to triple by 2050 to 152 million, according to the World Health Organization, posing a huge challenge to healthcare systems. (VOA)