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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) New Delhi, the apex body In India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world.

As early as in 1911, the Government of India set up the Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) with the specific objective of sponsoring and coordinating medical research in the country. After independence, several important changes were made in the organisation and the activities of the IRFA. It was redesignated in 1949 as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) with considerably expanded scope of functions. The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The Council’s research priorities coincide with the National health priorities such as control and management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders etc.

The Governing Body of the Council is presided over by the Union Health Minister. It is assisted in scientific and technical matters by a Scientific Advisory Board comprising eminent experts in different biomedical disciplines. The Board, in its turn, is assisted by a series of Scientific Advisory Groups, Scientific Advisory Committees, Expert Groups, Task Forces, and Steering Committees etc. which evaluate and monitor different research activities of the Council.

The Council promotes biomedical research in the country through intramural as well as extramural research. Over the decades, the base of extramural research and also its strategies have been expanded by the Council.

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION: An Indo-Foreign Cell (IFC) was set up in the Indian Council of Medical Research in the early 1980s to coordinate collaboration in biomedical research between India and other countries/ international agencies. The IFC was upgraded to the Division of International Health (IHD) in 2000. By and large, biomedical research / health sciences have figured in practically every bilateral agreement in the field of Science and Technology. In addition, there have been a few specific agreements signed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with other countries as well as those signed directly by the ICMR.

IN NEWS: The 2011 marks the 100 Years of the ICMR. The Indian government released commemorative on 15th Nov 2011 in New Delhi. The coins are in denomination of 100. The Reverse side depicts the logo of ICMR.


INTRODUCTION: Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), a decentralized disease surveillance project in India was initiated by the Government of India in November 2004 with funding support from World Bank.

It is intended to generate and detect early warning signals of impending outbreaks and help initiate an effective response in a timely manner to start with. In later years the routine surveillance data and trends over years will be used to predict outbreaks well in advance and initiate preventive / averting actions.

Under the project, Surveillance Units under the project have been set up at Central, State and District level with the district being the hub of all information. Linkages have been established with all State Head Quarters, District Head Quarters and all Government Medical Colleges on a Satellite Broadband Hybrid Network for enhanced speedy data transfer and video conferencing facilities.

OBJECTIVE OF IDSP: The main objective of IDSP is early detection of disease outbreaks. Whenever there is a rising trend of illnesses of similar nature in any area, it is investigated by the Medical Officers/Rapid Response Teams (RRT) at district and if required state RRT to verify, confirm and take up appropriate control measures for the outbreak.

INFORMATION FLOW UNDER IDSP: Under IDSP disease surveillance data is collected on a weekly (Monday-Sunday) basis and SOS on imminent outbreaks. The weekly data gives the time trends. The IDSP has a web portal through which information can be directly uploaded at district and is accessible at

REPORTING FORMATS UNDER IDSP: The information is collected on three specified reporting formats, namely

  • “S” (suspected cases),
  • “P” (presumptive cases)
  • “L” (Laboratory confirmed cases)

filled by Health Workers, Clinician and Clinical Laboratory staff respectively.

Emphasis is being laid on reporting of surveillance data from major hospitals both in public and private sector and also Infectious Disease hospitals. Paramedical staff and pharmacists can be crucial links in collating the P form data from hospitals.


The National Institute of Virology is one of the major Institutes of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It was established at Pune, in 1952 as Virus Research Centre (VRC) under the auspices of the ICMR and the Rockefeller Foundation (RF), USA. It was an outcome of the global programme of the RF for investigating the Arthropod Borne viruses. Since the studies on arboviruses and their arthropod vectors involve most of the basic principles and techniques of general virology, entomology and zoology, these viruses were also considered to be an ideal group, to begin with, for intensive training and research in virology in our country. The RF withdrew its support in 1967 and since then the Institute is entirely funded by the ICMR

The research activities of the centre were made more meaningful and self reliant by organizing new areas of research, such as Cell repository, Electron microscopy, Rickettsioses, Hepatitis, Influenza and related viruses, Clinical virology, Biochemistry, Virus registry, and Biostatistics. The research activities of the Institute are coordinated by a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) consisting of eminent scientists.

On the recommendation of the SAC, the VRC acquired its status of national importance and was renamed as National Institute of Virology (NIV) in 1978. Subsequently studies on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Rotavirus gastroenteritis, acute haemorrhagic conjunctivitis, Rabies, Herpes simplex, Buffalo pox, Measles, and Poliomyelitis were also initiated.

A Microbial Containment Complex (MCC) having P-3 biosafety levels for handling microorganisms of highly infectious nature is being established at Pashan, 11 km off the main laboratory at Pune. This laboratory will provide National Containment facility for safe handling of highly hazardous pathogens.

The Institute was designated as one of the collaborating laboratories of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1967 and it started functioning as the regional centre of the WHO for South-East Asia for arbovirus studies from 1969. Since 1974, it has been functioning as a WHO collaborating centre for arbovirus reference and research. In 1995 it has been redesignated as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus and Haemorrhagic Fever Reference and Research and Rapid Diagnosis of Viral Diseases. NIV is also the National Centre for Hepatitis and Influenza. The field unit of NIV at Bangalore is one of the centres under National Polio Surveillance Program conducting surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis cases from Karnataka as a part of Global Polio Eradication Programme of the WHO South-East Asia region since 1997.


NPPA is an organization of the Government of India which was established, inter alia, to fix/ revise the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and to enforce prices and availability of the medicines in the country, under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 1995 The organization is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers. It also monitors the prices of decontrolled drugs in order to keep them at reasonable levels.

NPPA is consisting of a Chairperson equal in status as a Secretary to the Government of India;

members having expertise in the field of pharmaceuticals, economics and cost accountancy; and Member Secretary in the status of Joint Secretary/Additional Secretary to the Government of India. The NPPA was empowered to take final decisions, as and when considered necessary.

The NPPA is conferred the power to regulate its own procedure for performing the functions entrusted to it. The authority is empowered to maintain close touch with the Ministries of the Central Government, State Governments, Industry, consumers and other related organizations. Some of the other functions of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority are as follows:

  1. To implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  2. To deal with all legal matters arising out of the decisions of the Authority.
  3. To monitor the availability of drugs, identify shortages, if any, and to take remedial steps;
  4. To undertake and/or sponsor relevant studies in respect of pricing of drugs/pharmaceuticals;
  5. To recruit/appoint the offices and other staff members of the Authority, as per rules and procedures laid down by the Government;
  6. To render advice to the Central Government on changes/revisions in the drug policy;
  7. To render assistance to the Central Government in the parliamentary matters relating to the drug pricing.


The Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), part of an emerging health biotech science cluster, is an ambitious initiative which creates the unique institutional environment for the conduct of truly multidisciplinary research that translates scientific and technological advancements into medical innovations that will improve public health. It also seeks to establish collaborations with research institutions and hospitals around India, making this a national undertaking. The goal is to have affordable technologies and solutions that address global healthcare challenges. It is an autonomous institute of the Department of Biotechnology.

IN NEWS: The THSTI and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) announced on 3rd March 2011 an agreement to jointly establish, operate and fund an HIV Vaccine Design Program in India.


Globally more than 40 million people are living with AIDS, and half or more of them are under the age of 25 years. India is also not an exception. In fact, the sad truth is that here 5.1 million people are living with HIV-positive virus and around 38 per cent of them are women. Although this is less than one per cent of the country’s population, statistics show that the country is the home of second highest number of people living with HIV/ AIDS in the world. The country accounts for almost 10 percent of the over 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS globally and over 60 per cent of the 7.4 mi 11 ion living with HI V/AIDS in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to the statistics provided by National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the total number of people suffering from the disease i n 2004 is 91,080. The majority of the HIV infections (87.7 per cent) are in the age group of 15-44 years.

The predominant mode of transmission of the infection in AIDS patients is through heterosexual contact (85.7 per cent), followed by injecting drug use (IDU), blood transfusion and others. In 2004, around 22 per cent of the HIV infected are women with a single partners. In the country six States i.e., Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur, and Nagaland have high prevalence of HIV.

To combat the situation, the Government has taken ample steps to fight against this fatal disease both nationally and internationally. The financial outlay for the National AIDS Control Programme Phase II (1999-2004) has been increased from Rs.l,425 crore to Rs.1,941 crore. Besides, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has ensured an initial commitment of US $ 200 million to catalyze current activities on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and to usher in additional initiatives.

NACO’s figures on AIDS

NACO has said in May 2005 that the number of new HIV infections for 2004-05 had increased by about 28,000, compared to 5.2 lakh the previous year.

“What has brought about this decline? Has there been a dramatic intervention that has changed the way people behaved over the last year? Besides, the surveillance centres (involved in mapping the disease) are not really spread out in rural areas,” says Mr Irfan Khan, co-ordinator with Naaz.

In April 2005, NACO was battling numbers again, when Competition Wizard Prof Richard Feachem of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said that India had crossed South Africa in terms of the total number of HIV patients in the country.

In 2002, Microsoft chief, Mr Bill Gates, had raised a storm when he cited a US report that projected the incidence of HIV/AIDS patients in India to touch 25 million by 2010.

Dr S. Y. Quraishi, NACO’s Project Director, two years back changes were made to sites involved in the study and this could be the reason for the huge difference in numbers.

India begins AIDS Vaccine trials on Humans

The first-ever human trials of the HIV/AIDS vaccine have started at the National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) in Pune.

  •  The vaccine Prototype – the tgAAC09 (Recombinant adeno-associated viral, rAAV) – has been developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Collaboration with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).
  • This marks the beginning of the first phase of trial of the AIDS vaccine.
  •  The phase-I trial will continue for a year and a half. If the first phase goes well, the vaccine will be tested for effectiveness in Phase-II trials, which will continue for another year and a half and finally a large Phase-III trial will be conducted for three to five years before it is ready for use.
  •  The Phase-I trials have been launched to test the safety of the tgAAC09 vaccine and study the immune response it generates on humans after animal trials showed that it protected some monkeys from a HI V-like virus. After the final completion of three phases of trials, the vaccine will be ready for manufacturing in next 8-10 years.
  • IAVI is a global non-profit organisation working to speed up the search for a vaccine to prevent HIV infection and AIDS. Founded in 1996 and operational in 23 countries, IAVI and its network of partners research and develop vaccine candidates. IAVI also advocates for a vaccine to be a global priority and works to assure that a future vaccine will be accessible to all who need it. In financial terms, IAVI operates the second-largest AIDS vaccine research and development program. To date, IAVI has invested more than US$ 100 million in vaccine R&D.

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