Need to encourage ‘physician-scientist’ concept to boost medical research, say experts

At a seminar in Pune on Saturday, experts will deliberate on dual MD-PhD programmes and how they will help promote research among the medical academic fraternity.

In a move to promote research in the field of medicine, the National Medical Commission (NMC) is taking measures to bring in the concept of physician-scientists – a practice well-established in advanced countries – and making them an integral part of medical education. In India, however, the concept of research in medical academia has lacunae at many levels and towards this end experts will deliberate on dual MD-PhD programmes and promote the concept of physician-scientists at a seminar in Pune on Saturday.

Lt Gen (Retd) Dr Madhuri Kanitkar, Vice-Chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik, who will be the chief guest at the event, told The Indian Express that the concept is not new. “However, we have to create an ecosystem where dual degree programmes can be promoted and there can be concentration on research with a clinical perspective,” Lt Gen Kanitkar said. The MUHS VC is keen on promoting PG programmes at district hospitals and combining it with research as there is not only a need but also an opportunity to address public health challenges.

While there are dual degree programmes in some institutions, the Indian Council of Medical Research has provided guidelines on the issue recently. Dr Sundeep Salvi, the director of Pulmocare Research and Education Foundation, underlined the need for such a combined programme.

“As many as 99.9 per cent of doctors go into practice and hardly anyone goes into research. ICMR has issued guidelines to support dual MD-PhD programmes and this concept must be encouraged,” said Dr Salvi, who was also the chair of chronic respiratory diseases for Global Burden of Disease Study in India. Along with Dr Arvind Chopra (director, Centre for Rheumatic Diseases, Pune, and co-ordinator for WHO programme for community-oriented control of rheumatic diseases), Dr Salvi and other experts will provide insights into this subject at the seminar.

Dr Rajiv Yeravdekar, Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at Symbiosis International (deemed university), said Symbiosis Medical College for Women (SMCW), a constituent of the Symbiosis International University in Pune, is organising the seminar to propagate the concept of physician-scientist at its campus in Lavale.

“SMCW is one of the first medical colleges in the country to internalise the NMC mandate and is promoting a research culture and establishing a specific curriculum dedicated to budding physician-scientists. We are aiming to give a fillip to mainstream research among the medical academic fraternity by collaborative arrangements with other scientific organisations that have been conferred the status of “Institutes of Eminence” by the Centre,” Dr Yeravdekar told The Indian Express.

Dr Pravin Shingare, former director of medical education and research, Maharashtra, and uterine transplant surgeon Dr Shailesh Puntambekar will also participate. The topics being covered at the event include health and biomedical research in medical colleges, challenges in clinical applications of epidemiological research, clinicians and clinical trials, and medical research – a surgeons’ perspective.

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