Among 35 medical colleges chosen to set up research unit

The Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, is all set to take a major step forward in biomedical research, with the establishment of a multidisciplinary research unit (MDRU) and a modern animal house to aid clinical experiments. The project, which has come through as part of a national initiative of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to promote health research infrastructure in medical colleges, is being supported by the State government.

While the ICMR will provide the project a one-time grant of Rs.5.25 crore and an annual grant of nearly Rs.35 lakh each for the next five years for manpower, training, and consumables, the State government will chip in with Rs.27.55 crore for infrastructure requirements.

“This is a dream project not just for the medical college but for the State as the ICMR is planning the research unit as a major initiative to promote health research, especially in the area of non-communicable diseases, virology, and molecular diagnosis. The government medical colleges in the State do not have advanced diagnostic facilities like PCR at present. When the MDRU functions full-fledged, it will be a major public sector clinical diagnostic facility in Kerala,” medical college Principal Ramdas Pisharody said.

Establishment of MDRUs in government medical colleges during the 12 Plan period is envisaged by the Department of Health Research to promote basic, applied and clinical research in medical colleges as well as research in non-communicable diseases. The initiative is intended to “bridge the gap in the infrastructure, which is inhibiting health research in medical colleges”.

The medical college in the city is among the 35 in the country where ICMR is helping set up the multidisciplinary research facility in 2013-14.

Five labs

The proposed multidisciplinary lab will have facilities which can be shared by clinical departments such as biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, forensic medicine, anatomy, and pharmacy to aid research in pharmaceutical sciences, basic sciences, and clinical genetics.

The unit will have five laboratories – virology, genetics, molecular biology, cell culture and analytical laboratories.

A modern animal house facility is also to be a part of the project as animal experiments are a crucial part of clinical research. The existing animal house in medical college is being upgraded based on the detailed guidelines issued by ICMR for the proper housing, breeding, and ethical and humane use of laboratory animals.

“The virology diagnostics facility will be developed this year itself as ICMR is keen on launching basic diagnostics for viral diseases immediately, in view of the annual epidemics of infectious diseases. For the time being, a new virology lab is being set up in the new OP block in the medical college, which will be shifted to the MDRU building when the infrastructure is ready,” Dr. Pisharody said.

Team’s visit

Two members of the scientific advisory committee, National Institute of Virology, Pune – D. A. Gadkari and U. C. Chaturvedi – visited the medical college on behalf of the ICMR last week to inspect facilities

The work on the multi-storeyed building to house MDRU has been launched by HLL Ltd. The State government has allocated Rs.8 crore for the project in the current Budget.