Pune hosts ICMR's state-of-the-art bio-safety lab

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has teamed up with the department of science to set up the first state-of-the-art facility for medical research in the country at Pune, in Maharashtra.

Union minister for health and family welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad dedicated Asia's first bio-safety Level-IV laboratory to the nation at a function held at Pune today.

Addressing the inaugural programme, Azad said the department of health research has made several strides in the field of health and medicine and this lab is an outstanding example of their capabilities.

He said the department has facilitated the development of domestic reagents and domestic vaccine for influenza-A (H1N1) and in increasing the number of labs from 2 to 46, both within one year's time. It has also identified 75 leads of potential public health importance for development and evaluation.

These include new regimens for the treatment of Kala-Azar, new drug combinations for treatment of malaria, new tests for diagnosis of dengue, chikungunya, TB, several other infections and cancer, a cholera vaccine and an affordable testing strip for diabetes.

A total of 16 new; 14 BSL-II and 2 BSL-III laboratories have been set up for working on viral diseases and TB in the country. The National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune has done tremendous work on research and management of infectious agents, including viruses. It continues to do excellent work on viruses, which are transmitted by vectors including mosquitoes, ticks and mites.

Azad said the enhancement in the capabilities of the institution through BSL IV infrastructure is going to be of crucial importance and of substantive importance to not only India but also to other countries in the region.

NIV, he said, has played a flagship role in investigations of the diseases of national and international concern such as SARS and avian influenza, besides the H1N1 Pandemic.

He said the 12th Plan document approved by the National Development Council yesterday, has earmarked an outlay of more than Rs10,000 crore for the Department of Health Research and ICMR, almost five times more than the funds received in the 11th plan.

The following schemes will be rolled out in the area of health research during the 12th Plan period:

  • Establishment of multidisciplinary research units in 150 government medical colleges;
  • Setting up of 50 rural health research units at block level;
  • Establishment of a network of 250 laboratories at regional, state and district level for managing epidemics;
  • Grant-in-id to researchers on projects involving development of affordable technologies, reagents and methods for public use;
  • Strengthening existing ICMR institutes and set up new centres in deficit areas;
  • Suggest and regularly update standard treatment guidelines;
  • Benchmark and accredit health research institutions; and
  • Support human resource development for producing qualified researchers.

Azad complemented scientists, doctors and officials of the Department of Health Research, ICMR, DST, director and scientists of NIV Pune, Klenzied, the company, which built this facility, HSCC and all others who have played a role in the development of this facility.