Prof Satyajit Mayor conferred "Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite"

This award reflects Prof. Mayor’s extensive efforts in supporting Indo-French scientific collaborations.

Bengaluru, 19 November 2019

Prof. Satyajit Mayor, Director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS-TIFR) was conferred the distinguished Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit), by the Ambassador of France to India, Mr. H.E. Emmanuel Lenain on 19th November, 2019.

The Ambassador visited NCBS with a team of delegates who were welcomed by Prof. Satyajit Mayor and the directors of inStem (Prof. Apurva Sarin) and C-CAMP (Dr Taslimarif Saiyed). Faculty members were present in a meet-and-greet session where engaging discussions about campus research, the necessity of fundamental science, future prospects, and collaboration opportunities took place.

Prof Mayor is one of the co-directors of the LIA (“Laboratory without walls”) between NCBS and IBDM, which is one out of the 10 LIAs in India. He has maintained outstanding collaborations with Thomas Lecuit, who is a professor of College de France and Ludger Johannes from the Institut Curie.

This award reflects Prof. Mayor’s extensive efforts in supporting Indo-French scientific collaborations. His encouragement to collaborate globally has resulted in several MOUs signed between NCBS and other premier institutes, including the Institut Curie and IBDM (Institut de Biologie du development de Marseille), and his support has ensured these strong associations sustain student mobility and progress.

The delegates in attendance included Dr. Marjorie Vanbaelinghem (Consul General of France in Bangalore), Dr. Jerome Bove (Scientific attaché from the Embassy of France in India), Dr. Anupama Ambika Anilkumar (Scientific coordinator from the Embassy of France in India, Dr. Srini Kaveri (CNRS, India head), Dr. Thomas Salez (Counsellor for Energy, innovation and urban development, French Embassy in India), and researchers from NCBS, inStem and C-CAMP who have been a vital part of the Bangalore Life Science Cluster’s Indo-French collaborations.

Address of H.E. Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India

Dear Professor Mayor,

Dear friends,

We are gathered here today to pay tribute to the work of Professor Satyajit Mayor but, more importantly, I would like to start with a word about the man behind the work.

Satyajit “Jitu” Mayor was prepared for some risk-taking in the pursuit of science and made the choice, after receiving extensive training in cell biology from top universities in the world, like Rockefeller and Columbia in the United States, to return to India in ‘95. This career choice paid off as Prof Mayor went on to successfully create a niche for cell biology both in India and internationally.

As an independent mind, setting his own course, Professor Mayor was also one of the early advocates of practicing inter-disciplinary science, bridging Chemistry, Biology and Physics, providing a very different perspective for answering challenging issues.

Prof Mayor and his NCBS colleagues worked with Nobel Laureates Richard Henderson and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan to set up a new state-of-the-art facility that took microscopic studies to the molecular level. This is a true scientific breakthrough.

Prof Mayor is also a perfect example of a person who has the necessary vision to bridge the long-existing gap between academia and industry. By organizing and offering international courses in microscopy at NCBS, Prof Mayor has always attracted top companies of the world specializing in microscopy to collaborate extensively with NCBS, which resulted in the establishment of one of the largest microscopy facilities in the world at NCBS.

In fact, one might say that entrepreneurship is embedded in his genes, as he is the Independent Director of a Gujarat-based company, Permionics, which was started by his father.

Prof Mayor also played an instrumental role in laying the foundation of inSTEM, the first Indian institute dedicated to research on stem cells, and co-founded C-CAMP, one of the earliest on-campus non-profit organisations in India.

If we are here today, it’s also to acknowledge that Professor Mayor has done much in cooperation with France.

In fact, he has always encouraged the faculty as well as the students of NCBS to collaborate globally, which has resulted in several MoUs between NCBS and other premier institutes in the world, including the Max Planck Institute, Riken Institute, National University of Singapore, and, in France, Institut Curie – to name but a few.

In the course of his career, Professor Mayor had and still has active collaborations with a number of institutes in France, including Institut Curie and IBDM-Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille (Institut de biologie du development de Marseille). He has had outstanding collaborations with Thomas Lecuit, who is professor at College de France. He has thus ensured regular student mobility through such close associations.

Professor Mayor is one of the co-directors of the International Associated Laboratory (LIA) between NCBS and the Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille. This laboratory is one amongst only 10 such International Associated Laboratories in India today and truly does credit to the collaboration between France and India in science and technology.

Our bilateral scientific cooperation is long-standing. The Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA) is a 31-year-old organization and the first of its kind in India. It enables scientists from both countries to undertake a joint scientific adventure, with the objective of making it an enduring success story.

The Indo-French International Associated Laboratory directed by Gaiti Hasan here in NCBS, and Angela Giangrande in Strasbourg is also an excellent example of such major collaborations.

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Professor Satyajit Mayor, after mentioning your scientific achievements, let me add, on a more personal note, that your interest and involvement in art and literature have drawn eminent writers and philosophers on campus, both as artists in residence and public speakers.

You also have a great passion for cricket and were actively involved in the sport with contemporaries like Ravi Shastri and Kiran More. So we could say that India has lost a great cricketer to Science – which is a fair sacrifice.

You embody the researcher who succeeds as a scientist, as a director of research institutes, and as an architect of a powerful research cluster. As you hewed this path, you brought French scientists on board for mutually beneficial associations.

I am thus delighted to confer on you the Knight of the French National Order of Merit.

And now, as required by protocol, I will proceed in French:

Professeur Satyajit Mayor, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons “Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Mérite”.

Last modified on 28/11/2019

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