Biological Sciences Division

Biological Sciences Division

Professor Mahalanobis’s interest towards biology developed and deepened when he met Dr. Nelson Annadale in 1920 at the Indian Science Congress Session in Nagpur. Dr. Annadale had handed him over anthropometric data on the Anglo-Indians in Calcutta for statistical analysis which resulted in his first scientific paper on the ‘Statistical Analysis of Anglo-Indian Stature: Male’, published in the Records of the Indian Museum in 1922. Mahalanobis continued his statistical analysis of anthropological data and he made use of the D2 statistic for the first time. His other contribution was the revision of H.H. Risley’s anthropometric data on the Indian population by using statistical methods. Professor D.N. Majumder, the then Head of the Anthropology Department of Lucknow University, extended his active support to Professor Mahalanobis by providing him with data from anthropometric surveys in U.P. and Bengal, which yielded in a series of landmark publications. The prevailing view that castes were distinguishable by ‘racial criteria’ appeared untenable in this research work of Professor Mahalanobis.

  • In 1924, Professor Mahalanobis published a paper on the probable error of field experiments in agriculture, without even knowing about the revolutionary work of Sir Ronald A. Fisher, which attracted the attention of Sir Ronald. Their friendship began to grow and produced a very creative impact on the shaping of research and teaching policies of the Indian Statistical Institute in the subsequent decades.
  • Several eminent scientists in the field of Biology, attracted by the innovative research work of Professor Mahalanobis, began to visit the Institute from abroad. They included luminaries like Ruggle Gates, Julian Huxley, and G.L. Stebbins, while Professor J.B.S. Haldane joined the Institute in 1957.
  • During 1960s, researchers in ISI in the field of human adaptation to the environment, more particularly in “Stress Research”, were undertaken in collaboration with Professor H.L. Shapiro, which was popularly known as the Shapiro project.
  • At about this time, there had been a spread of research activities in the field of Serology and blood polymorphism. The research work expanded to include new human genetic traits. Later on, an Indo-Soviet collaborative study (with the earstwhile USSR Academy of Sciences) was undertaken on the Indian and Central Asian populations, using several anthropological and genetic parameters.
  • Research work was initiated in the field of molecular embryology, embryogenesis, biological clock, and chemical ecology.
  • In 1970, research on leaf protein was introduced with the keen interest and support of Professor N.W. Pirie, FRS, and Professor R.L.M. Synge, Nobel Laureate."
  • Prof. K.C.Malhotra and other senior scientists took a leading role in this period.

Recent Developments:

  • Presently Biological Science Division consists of three research units: (I) Human Genetics Unit, (ii) Biological Anthropology Unit, and (iii) Agricultural and Ecological Research Unit. The Division has tended to focus its research on areas such as agriculture; ecology and environment; genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics; health systems; and bioethics.
  • The main theme of agricultural research would be to ascertain a stable and sustainable production of crops and natural resources. Inter-disciplinary studies in agroecology and statisticians including GIS. The major interrelationship with statistics will be in the areas of design of experiments, multivariate analysis, and pattern recognition.
  • Furthermore, ecology and environmental research will explore different fields like global change regarding climate, human impact, land use, water availability, pollutants, agricultural demands, and changes in biodiversity with particular emphasis on ecological monitoring and modelling. The nature of interaction with statistics will include formulation of innovative sampling designs and multivariate measures of ecological status and assessment of temporal changes of these measures.
  • The research focus of the Human Genetics Unit will continue to be  Genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics research, with special emphasis on (a) Population-based genetic, epigenetic and genomics approaches to the study of common diseases, such as cancer and other diseases and (b) Identification of DNA variations in populations that contribute to differential responses to treatment regimens for common diseases. Greater emphasis will be placed on the development of statistical methods for mapping genes for disease inference and DNA sequence analysis.
  • Multivariate statistical analysis will be the major statistical aspect of health systems research.
  • The research focus of the Biological Anthropology Unit will continue to be on biocultural dimensions of the health of different communities inhabiting diverse ecological settings in the perspective of biocultural adaptation.


Recruitment of Faculty Position at the Biological Sciences Division

The Biological Sciences Division is currently inviting applications from exceptionally bright and motivated individuals for the post of Assistant Professor with excellent experience in the following areas. Recruitments in higher positions (Associate Professor and above) may also be made depending on the experience and suitability of the candidate.
  • Agricultural and Ecological Research Unit
    • Theoretical ecology
    • Applied/ experimental ecology
    • Quantitative epidemiology
    • Digital agriculture, forecasting, and agriculture systems modelling
    • Crop, soil and environmental management with demonstrated quantitative applications
  • Human Genetics Unit
    • Statistical human genomics with broad interest and expertise in genomics of disease and biological systems
    • Human genetics
    • Biomedical genomics
  • Biological Anthropology Unit
    • All related areas of biological anthropology with demonstrated quantitative applications

For more details see: CLOSED


Visiting Scientist positions at Biological Sciences Division, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

Biological Sciences Division invites applications for short-term Visiting Scientist positions from bright candidates who have recently completed a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics / Anthropology / Agriculture / Biochemistry / Biotechnology / Bioinformatics / Computational Biology / Ecology / Environmental Science / Genetics / Molecular Biology / Statistics / Life sciences. Candidates who have submitted their PhD thesis and are awaiting a degree may also apply. Offers for the Visiting positions will be made 3 times a year. The deadlines for submission of applications for each quarter are June 15, September 15 and December 15. (Recruitment for the Visiting Scientist position is subject to fund availability and administrative approval)

Eligibility: PhD from a recognized Institute/University. Candidates who have freshly submitted their PhD thesis are also encouraged to apply.

Application must include the following documents in a ZIP file:

(1) Curriculum Vitae with a list of publications, if any.
(2) A write-up of work already done along with a plan for proposed research commensurate with the ongoing work of the division
(3) Soft copy of Ph.D. thesis, and preprints/reprints, if any.
(4) Name(s) of the faculty member(s) with whom the applicant wishes to work may also be mentioned.
(5) Candidates should also include the names of 2 referees - if possible. It is preferable to arrange recommendation letters from two referees (one from the supervisor).

The complete application along with the recommendation letters should reach directly to the Professor-in-Charge, Biological Sciences Division, Kolkata at the email id: pnc_bsd[at]isical[dot]ac[dot]in. Selected candidates will be informed via email. If the offer is acceptable, the candidate should join the institute not later than a month from the date of the offer.


Junior Research Fellow (externally funded) positions at the Biological Sciences Division

The Biological Sciences Division invites applications for Junior Research Fellows who are interested to work at the institute with their own fellowship. Candidates interested in working in the following research domains may apply: Applied Mathematics / Anthropology / Agriculture / Biochemistry / Biotechnology / Bioinformatics / Computational Biology / Ecology / Environmental Science / Genetics / Molecular Biology / Statistics / Life Sciences.


  1. Name of the post: Junior Research Fellow
  2. Qualification: Qualification: M.Sc. with First Class and consistently good academic record. Must have qualified in CSIR-UGC NET/DBT/ICMR/NBHM or possess any other fellowship and have their own funding.
  3. Age: Preferably below 30 years
  4. Monthly Consolidated emoluments: Selected candidate will have to work in laboratories under the concerned faculty in the Biological Sciences Division at his/her own fellowship grant.

Candidates are requested to visit the faculty profiles of the Biological Sciences Division. It’s advisable to seek prior consent from the concerned faculty with whom the candidate is interested in working.  


Candidates who meet the eligibility criteria outlined above are invited to submit their applications as a single ZIP file via email to the respective Heads of the Unit, with a copy to the Professor-in-Charge, Biological Sciences Division, whose email addresses are provided below. The application should include the following documents:

  1. A cover letter addressed to the Head of the Unit.
  2. A comprehensive biodata that details academic achievements, work experiences, and includes self-attested copies of relevant certificates.
  3. Preferably, a letter indicating in-principle consent from the proposed supervisor.

Selection exercises will be carried out four times a year. The deadlines for submission of applications are March 31, June 30, September 30, and December 31.

Email address:

General instructions:

  1. Age relaxation is admissible in respect of SC/ST and OBC (Govt. of India non-creamy layer certificate) candidates.
  2. The incumbents selected will have no claim for regular appointments or continuation of his/her services in the same or any other project.
  3. No TA/DA will be admissible for attending the written test/walk-in-interview



Dr. Abhishek Mukherjee
Biological Sciences Division
Indian Statistical Institute, 
203 Barrackpore Trunk Road,
Kolkata 700108,

Email: pnc_bsd[at]isical[dot]ac[dot]in