We are writing to you in our capacity as president of the board of governors of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), and director general of the ICGEB, respectively. We are utterly surprised by the content and the tone of your Editorial and News item about this centre (Nature 408, 121; 2000 & Nature 408, 127; 2000 ).
Last November a meeting of the board of governors, representing the 43 countries involved, very positively appraised the activity of both the Italian and the Indian components of the ICGEB and confirmed the board's total confidence in the ICGEB management, including Professor V. S. Chauhan, director of the New Delhi component. This positive evaluation was also based on a glowing report by the ICGEB council of scientific advisers — an independent body of 15 distinguished scientists.
The board was totally satisfied that the turnover of personnel is at a normal level for a research institution and that the hiring of all personnel is done in full transparency, without any external pressure, political or otherwise, but purely on professional grounds. Furthermore, the morale of the scientists working at the ICGEB is quite good, as witnessed by the accompanying letter that has been sent to you by the New Delhi scientific staff.
Their morale has been further heightened by the outcome of the board's meeting: the government of Italy has just passed a law to triple its annual contribution to the centre (hardly a sign of “donor fatigue”) and the government of India has promised to do likewise. All the other governors present at the meeting have assured that their countries will fulfil their financial commitments to the ICGEB. Furthermore, grants to ICGEB scientists from several major international foundations and agencies are steadily on the increase.