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Brain research in India gets a helping hand from a dying wish

  • Late Ms. Sharawaree Gokhale, IAS (Retd)
    Late Ms. Sharawaree Gokhale, IAS (Retd)

Photo: CBR, IISc

The Centre for Brain Research (CBR) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, received a generous endowment from former IAS officer Ms. Sharwaree Gokhale who passed away on 15th January 2016. In her will, Ms. Gokhale donated a major portion of her estate to CBR. Her contribution would help progress our understanding of the most complex organ that we know of - the human brain.

Ms. Gokhale joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1974, where she went on to work for 36 years under the Maharashtra state cadre. During her time as an IAS officer, she undertook several public service projects, including effectively managing the swine-flu pandemic in Maharashtra. She was also instrumental in implementing the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme under the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government, aimed at universalisation of elementary education in Maharashtra. She was admired by her peers for her incisive analytical ability and principle approach to solving problems. Her passion and dedication was recognized by the state, and in 1979 she became the first woman to become the District Collector in the state of Maharashtra, breaking long held traditions and conventions. Her dedication towards public service and the realization that human progress required investment in scientific research, motivated her to make this donation to CBR.

CBR, an autonomous centre of IISc, was established with the assistance from Pratiksha Trust, a charitable trust set up by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan and his wife Sudha Gopalakrishnan, to assist and advance research in basic and clinical neurosciences. Current research at the centre focuses on preserving cognitive functions during ageing and developing neuromorphic computing and algorithms to better understand the functions of the brain. Although still in its infancy, the centre has embarked on a number of ambitious projects with support from Centre for Neuroscience and other departments (Computer Science and Automation CSA) at IISc. The centre also collaborates with research hospitals across the country, like National Institute of Mental health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) to better our understanding of ailments affecting the brain and to provide clinical solutions.

As a public servant, Ms. Gokhale indeed dedicated her life to improving the life of others. With her donation, she continues to contribute to the progress of human kind even in her death.  Her gift to CBR will help in furthering our knowledge of human brain especially with reference to age-related brain disorders