Publication of two research papers in a national or an international journal is now compulsory for promotion of teachers in medical colleges in India, according to Indrajit Ray, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata.

Similarly, students joining postgraduate medical courses from the academic year 2010 should make a poster presentation in a medical conference, present a research paper in a conference and also publish a research article in a national or international journal.

“Only then, will they be allowed to appear for their final examinations. All these are Medical Council of India [MCI] rules, approved by the Government of India, and the gazette notification has been done,” Professor Ray said. He was speaking at the session titled “Health: current issues on biomedical research studies” at the Indian Science Congress at Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.

The MCI was keen on encouraging medical college faculty to do research and motivate college managements to build infrastructure for teachers to do research, he said. So it laid down rules for promotion of faculty in medical colleges.

While the rule so far was that a teacher who served as an assistant professor for five years could become an associate professor, the new stipulation is that he/ she could become an associate professor in four years provided he/ she had published two research papers in his discipline in a national or international journal.

Till now, a teacher who served as an associate professor for four years could be promoted as a professor. But the new rule entails that he/ she could be promoted in three years if he/she had published two research papers. If a research paper had been jointly written by a group of teachers, the credit would go only to the first author, Professor Ray said.

O.N. Paramasivan, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, United Lincolnshire Hospitals, National Health Service Trust, the United Kingdom, said the 20th century saw a mushrooming of replacement of damaged knees, hips, elbows, ankles and shoulders with artificial joints. The 21st century was focussing on regenerative orthopaedic surgery.

The trend was to use body tissues and joints that are expendable in the human bodies to recreate joints that do not function any more. But Dr. Paramasivan cautioned that expendable joints could be used only in specific places such as the elbow.

Advances in biomaterial sciences and technology led to the development of artificial joints for knees, elbows, shoulders and hips and they were useful for elderly patients. These had a limited life-span of 10 to 15 years. But biological joints made from expendable joints have longevity of life and would be useful to younger patients too, he said.

P.R. Sudhakaran, former Professor of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, said a major challenge was identifying diseases susceptible to life-styles and dietary alterations. Obesity was emerging as a major public health problem. The economic costs of people suffering from coronary diseases, strokes and diabetes was increasing. There has been a rapid rise in coronary diseases in India — they accounted for 29 per cent of the deaths in 2005.