Upon completion of 70 years of its renowned existence, Agharkar Research Institute’s Director Dr Kishore M Paknikar said Professor S P Agharkar Memorabilia will be launched on Friday. The institute has entered into its 71st year after having come a long way from its early days when it had started in the basement of the Indian Law Society and continuing there for two decades. The institute now has sponsorship from companies like ONGC and Reliance for its bioenergy research projects.
The science institute has had an unconventional history. Kishore said, “It was started by a retired scientist (Prof Agharkar) for retired scientists to have a place for research.” Originally known as Maharashtra Association of Cultivation of Science (MACS), the institute got renamed to Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) due to the founder’s contributions to it. “Prof Agharkar donated everything he had to fund the institute,” he said.
Poona University was founded in 1948, whereas the MACS had been founded in 1946, which gave it a permanent recognition as a postgraduate research institute. Eventually, the MACS had approached the Maharashtra government which granted five acre land free of cost and the institute today stands on it. MACS was renamed to its current name in 1992. It is now an autonomous grant-in-aid research institute of the Department of Science and Technology, GOI.
ARI has been instrumental in biodiversity, bioenergy, genetics and plant breeding, and nanobioscience-related research with 2,653 papers, many of which have appeared in international journals Science and Nature. It has 39 patents, of which a few have made it to the commercial market, like the drug Silveron or Meganano.
Quoting the Ministry of Science and Technology on this achievement, Kishore said, “This success not only justifies the existence of ARI, but also of the department itself.”