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Ma­jor­ity of the re­search ac­tiv­i­ties of the In­dian Coun­cil of Med­i­cal Re­search are di­rected to­wards diseases that have sig­nif­i­cant links with so­cio eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try

“Some­where, some­thing in­cred­i­ble is wait­ing to be known,” echoes the In­dian Coun­cil of Med­i­cal Re­search (ICMR), the apex body in In­dia known for the for­mu­la­tion, co­or­di­na­tion and pro­mo­tion of bio­med­i­cal re­search. Set up in 1911, the ICMR was ini­tially named In­dian Re­search Fund As­so­ci­a­tion (IRFA) but soon af­ter In­de­pen­dence, with an ex­pan­sion of its re­search ac­tiv­i­ties and out­reach, it was re­named as In­dian Coun­cil of Med­i­cal Re­search (ICMR) in 1949.

The ICMR has now trans­formed into a vi­brant net­work of 32 per­ma­nent In­sti­tutes/ Cen­tres in­clud­ing Re­gional Cen­tres and around 111 field sta­tions/units. Since its in­cep­tion, the mis­sion of ICMR con­tin­ues to be to pro­mote bet­ter health for the vast pop­u­la­tion through re­search. The Coun­cil has ac­cepted a twin track ap­proach to meet its ob­jec­tives – in­tra­mu­ral re­search (through its In­sti­tutes) and ex­tra­mu­ral re­search (through grants-in-aid to projects in NON-ICMR in­sti­tu­tions). The per­ma­nent In­sti­tutes of ICMR strate­gi­cally lo­cated in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try are mis­sion-ori­ented dis­ci­pline/dis­easespe­cific lab­o­ra­to­ries. Ex­tra­mu­ral re­search is pro­moted ba­si­cally to strengthen the bio­med­i­cal ex­per­tise and in­fra­struc­ture es­pe­cially in med­i­cal col­leges and the univer­sity sys­tem. It is aimed at de­vel­op­ing and fos­ter­ing a cul­ture of re­search in academia.

The re­search pri­or­i­ties of the Coun­cil co­in­cide with na­tional health pri­or­i­ties. The Coun­cil works in con­gru­ence with the na­tional health pro­grammes, which have well de­signed tar­gets for con­trol, elim­i­na­tion and erad­i­ca­tion of diseases. The ma­jor­ity of the re­search ac­tiv­i­ties of the Coun­cil are di­rected to­wards diseases that have sig­nif­i­cant links with poverty. The Coun­cil has spe­cial fo­cus on health of marginalised and un­der priv­i­leged sec­tions of so­ci­ety and is re­spon­sive to is­sues of eq­uity, gen­der, eth­nic­ity and race. The ICMR has pro­vided crit­i­cal re­search sup­port when­ever the health needs of the coun­try de­manded rapid re­sponses. With glob­al­i­sa­tion, in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search has also in­creased in re­cent past.

ICMR is now one of the con­stituent bod­ies of the newly cre­ated Depart­ment of Health Re­search (DHR) in the Min­istry of Health & Fam­ily wel­fare, Govt of In­dia, whose vi­sion is “to bring mod­ern health tech­nol­ogy to the peo­ple through in­no­va­tions re­lated to di­ag­nos­tics, treat­ment meth­ods and vac­cines for preven­tion.


ICMR is work­ing on var­i­ous in­dige­nously de­vel­oped med­i­cal tech­nolo­gies/de­vices/kits, etc, which are cost ef­fec­tive and ap­pli­ca­ble in pri­mary health care sys­tem. Fol­low­ing ma­jor tech­nolo­gies have been de­vel­oped and re­leased in re­cent years: First in­dige­nously de­vel­oped “Ja­panese En­cephali­tis vac­cine (JENVAC)” un­der Pub­lic Pri­vate Part­ner­ship (PPP). The in­dige­nous virus strain was iso­lated and char­ac­ter­ized by the ICMR’S Na­tional In­sti­tute of Virol­ogy at Pune and the strains were trans­ferred to Bharat Biotech for fur­ther vac­cine de­vel­op­ment. An in­dige­nous “Tha­lassemia De­tec­tion Kit” has been de­vel­oped by the ICMR’S Na­tional In­sti­tute of Im­muno­haemo­tol­ogy, Mum­bai. An in­dige­nous de­vice “AV Mag­nivi­su­al­izer for De­tec­tion of Cer­vi­cal Can­cer” has been de­vel­oped by the ICMR’S In­sti­tute of Cy­tol­ogy and Pre­ven­tive On­col­ogy, Noida. Sim­ple and af­ford­able tech­nolo­gies for glu­cose mon­i­tor­ing—de­vice and test­ing strip—suchek & Quickcheq” have been

de­vel­oped by Nanobios Lab, In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, Mum­bai & BITS, Hyderabad cam­pus re­spec­tively with ex­tra­mu­ral fund­ing from ICMR. An in­dige­nous af­ford­able tech­nol­ogy “PCR Based Food borne Pathogens De­tec­tion Kit” has been de­vel­oped by the ICMR’S Na­tional In­sti­tute of Nu­tri­tion, Hyderabad. This tech­nol­ogy was de­vel­oped in Joint col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bioserve Biotech­nolo­gies Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad. An in­dige­nous af­ford­able tech­nol­ogy “ELISA Kit for Fer­ritin Es­ti­ma­tion” has been de­vel­oped by the ICMR’S Na­tional In­sti­tute of Nu­tri­tion, Hyderabad. An in­dige­nous af­ford­able tech­nol­ogy “Dried Blood Spot (DBS) Col­lec­tion Kit for Vi­ta­min-a Anal­y­sis” has been de­vel­oped by the ICMR’S Na­tional In­sti­tute of Nu­tri­tion, Hyderabad. An in­dige­nous af­ford­able tech­nol­ogy “Non – In­va­sive Rapid Di­ag­nos­tic Tests for Kala-azar (vis­ceral leish­ma­ni­a­sis) us­ing Urine as well as Oral fluid sam­ples have been de­vel­oped by the Ra­jen­dra Me­mo­rial Re­search In­sti­tute of Med­i­cal Sci­ences, Patna.


IGG ELISA di­ag­nos­tic kit for parag­o­nimi­a­sis (lung fluke in­fec­tion) de­vel­oped at RMRC, Di­bru­garh: Parag­o­nimi­a­sis is more com­mon in crabs and cray­fish eat­ing com­mu­ni­ties. It is dif­fi­cult to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween pul­monary tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and parag­o­nimi­a­sis by X-ray chest. This is an ELISA based di­ag­nos­tic kit for the dif­fer­en­tial di­ag­no­sis of pul­monary tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and parag­o­nimi­a­sis. The com­mu­nity where pul­monary parag­o­nimi­a­sis and pul­monary tu­ber­cu­lo­sis are co-ex­is­tent and en­demic, es­pe­cially in tribal ar­eas, di­ag­nos­ing pul­monary parag­o­nimi­a­sis by this ELISA based test helps in get­ting the treat­ment cor­rectly and cures the pa­tients in couple of days at much cheaper cost.

De­vel­op­ment of re­com­bi­nant IGM ELISA for the di­ag­no­sis of lep­tospiro­sis de­vel­oped at RMRC, Port Blair: Lep­tospiro­sis IGM ELISA is a di­ag­nos­tic test for lep­tospiro­sis. It de­tects lep­tospira spe­cific an­ti­bod­ies through the prin­ci­ple of ELISA. The test can be used as a con­fir­ma­tory di­ag­no­sis in out­break con­di­tions. IGM ELISA can be per­formed at dis­trict hos­pi­tals, re­fer­ral hos­pi­tals and cor­po­rate hos­pi­tals.

Di­ag­nos­tic method for Chlamy­dia tra­choma­tis de­vel­oped at NIRRH, Mum­bai: The tech­nol­ogy in­volves use of a sen­si­tive and spe­cific Poly­merase Chain Re­ac­tion (PCR) for de­tec­tion of Chlamy­dia tra­choma­tis, a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted bac­te­ria. This method is sim­ple com­pared to avail­able meth­ods of de­tec­tion. Time re­quired for the test is 2 hours, much less com­pared to other avail­able de­tec­tion meth­ods.

Per­sonal Cool­ing Gar­ment sys­tem de­vel­oped at NIOH, Ahmed­abad: The per­sonal cool­ing gar­ment (PCG) has been de­signed & de­vel­oped to pro­tect peo­ple who are ex­posed to hot en­vi­ron­ment. It is a bat­tery op­er­ated cool­ing sys­tem that is easy to set up and use. Un­like other cool­ing gar­ments it is light weight and al­lows per­son to move around freely at work place and per­form his rou­tine work com­fort­ably.

Urine based di­ag­nos­tic kits for fer­til­ity as­sess­ment de­vel­oped at NIRRH, Mum­bai: Mea­sure­ment of key re­pro­duc­tive hor­mones namely estra­diol (E2), pro­ges­terone (P), luteiniz­ing hor­mone (LH) and fol­li­cle stim­u­lat­ing hor­mone (FSH) in serum forms an im­por­tant ad­junct in the man­age­ment of in­fer­til­ity. The four in­dige­nously de­vel­oped ELISA based kits mea­sure uri­nary es­trone glu­curonide, preg­nane­diol glu­curonide, LH and FSH, thus making sam­pling to­tally non-in­va­sive. The tests can be used at dis­trict level Cen­tres equipped with an ELISA reader.

Re­sazurin Re­duc­tion Test (RRT) for as­sess­ment of metabol­i­cally ac­tive sperm de­vel­oped at NIRRH, Mum­bai: Re­sazurin Re­duc­tion Test can be used to as­sess the qual­ity of sperm. So far no test which is as sim­ple and cost ef­fec­tive as RRT is avail­able in In­dia. This test may be in­tro­duced in in­fer­til­ity clin­ics or even in Pri­mary Health Care Cen­ters in ru­ral and ur­ban set up as

a pre­lim­i­nary screen­ing test.


Flag­ship Pro­grams To con­nect with the peo­ple and bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the health needs of the de­prived and in­ac­ces­si­ble pop­u­la­tion, ICMR has launched fol­low­ing flag­ship pro­grammes for bet­ter health man­age­ment: Tribal Health Re­search Fo­rum: A Net­work of 16 ICMR In­sti­tutes. Re­search pro­gramme on hy­per­ten­sion and nu­tri­tion has been started & malaria and TB de­vel­oped with a goal of im­prov­ing health of tribal and other marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties. Vec­tor Borne Diseases Science Fo­rum: Multi-cen­tric pro­grammes on malaria, fi­lar­i­a­sis, JE/AES ini­ti­ated. The fo­rum pro­vides a com­mon plat­form to work in syn­ergy with the Na­tional Vec­tor Borne Dis­ease Con­trol Pro­gramme to dis­cuss and find ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tion to var­i­ous vec­tor borne diseases.

ICMR in col­lab­o­ra­tion with DHR is striv­ing hard to cre­ate a ro­bust re­search at­mos­phere in the coun­try through strength­en­ing of in­fra­struc­ture & pro­vid­ing nec­es­sary sup­port & ca­pac­ity build­ing in re­mote/marginal­ized ar­eas. The aim is to find bet­ter & af­ford­able health care so­lu­tions for larger part of the pop­u­la­tion and help­ing Govt. in making health care a so­cial move­ment.



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