Indian Council of Medical Research
The Indian Council of Medical Research is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
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, it was redesignated the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 1949, with considerably expanded scope of functions. The Governing Body of the Council is presided over by the Union Health Minister.
The Council's research priorities coincide with National health priorities such as control and management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders, developing alternative strategies for health care delivery, containment within safety limits of environmental and occupational health problems; research on major non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, blindness, diabetes and other metabolic and haematological disorders; mental health research and drug research (including traditional remedies).
Research is carried out currently through the Council's 32 Permanent Research Institutes/Centres which are mission-oriented national institutes located in different parts of India.
The National Institute of Immunohaematology is one of the premiere research Institutes of the ICMR, located currently in the premises of the KEM hospital, Parel, Mumbai.
Overview of the National Institute of Immunohaematology
The present day Institute made its debut as the Blood group Reference Centre (BGRC) in 1957 as a result of active interest shown by ICMR. The functions entrusted to BGRC were few but of National importance
- To train the people in methodology of blood groups and blood banking.
- To prepare and supply standard blood grouping reagents.
- To work as a reference centre for the solving problems in grouping and crossmatching.
- To prepare and maintain a list of rare bloods and to stimulate and conduct research in this unknown field in the country at that time.
The centre, which was started by ICMR to solve problems in blood banking, could successfully initiate research in various other related areas of immunohaematology viz. Population Genetics, Biochemical Genetics, Antenatal Serology, Immunology, HLA and Autoimmune Disorders. Dr.H.M.Bhatia and Dr.A.J.Baxi were the main architects behind this initial programme.
The centre was recognized by WHO as South East Asian Reference Centre in Blood Group Serology in 1970.
Seeing the progress of BGRC in 25 years, ICMR decided to rechristen BGRC as “Institute of Immunohaematology” at the time of the Silver Jubilee Celebration of the Centre in 1982 to accommodate all the departments of the centre under one roof.
The Institute could mobilize various International Collaborations like Indo-Russian collaboration to develop advanced techniques in blood banking and blood preservation, Indo German collaboration for the development of hybridoma technology to raise monoclonal antibodies and participated in Asia-Oceana international histocompatibility workshop.
Five years after celebrating it’s silver jubilee, due to the untiring efforts of Dr.Bhatia, the Institute could get one floor in the newly constructed multi-storeyed building in the KEM Hospital Campus. Here, the Institute developed its own library, seminar hall, cold storage facility (-200C and 40C). The “Molecular Biology Era” started with an Indo-French collaboration project on “Molecular Genetics of …………hemoglobinopathies in India. Since then, international collaborations i.e Indo-US and Indo-INSERM covering molecular biology of other hematological disorders have been initiated. The Institute has collaborations with other Institutes in the country on various aspects. They include: group educational activities in the fields of Hepatitis, HLA, Immunological concepts in Haematology and multicentric projects on Thalassemia and Nutritional Anemia and ICMR Task Force on Thalassemia.
- Research for the benefit of the common man
- Research to advance the frontier of knowledge
- Science for humanity.
- To develop cost effective technologies for the diagnosis and management of haematological disorders.
- To develop core-competence in the cutting edge areas of Haematology research like Stem Cell Biology, Molecular Biology etc and other related areas.
- To help in the research and development of plasma based or recombinant therapeutic products with Pharmaceutical companies through public – private partnership.
- To develop manpower with expertise in the field of various areas of Haemtology and Transfusion Science through M.Sc, Ph.D programmes summer training for students, short term trainings , DM, and training facilities for different Medical Colleges in the country in areas of public health importance.
- To develop modules of interactive research with other ICMR and non ICMR Institutes, to solve haematological challenges of national importance i.e thalassemia, nutritional anemia, viral disorders causing haematological complications.
- To develop basic research programmes to understand physiology and biology of different haematological disorders.
- To develop satellite centres across the country for study of haematological disorders.
- Discovery of Bombay (Oh) blood group system
- Discovery of In a blood group
- Introduction of Intra uterine transfusion for Rh HDN
- Description of alloimmunization against many rare blood groups
- Description of the 1st case of G6PD deficiency in India - ushering in Several of research programmes in this area.
- Establishment of one of the oldest HLA – typing laboratories in the country.
- Developing technology for doing prenatal diagnosis in thalassemias using globin chain synthesis studies
- Developing molecular technology for prenatal diagnosis of thalassemias in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy.
- Establishment of one of the oldest HLA – typing laboratories in the country.
- Molecular basis of Rh D heterogeneity, ABO blood groups and Bombay phenotype in India
- Low cost treatment strategies for haemophilia in developing countries
- Prenatal diagnosis of haemophilia using CVS and molecular techniques
- Prenatal diagnosis of haemophilia using Cordocentesis and factor assay paving the way for prenatal diagnosis for other congenital clotting disorders.
- Establishment of a laboratory to comprehensively study red cell enzyme deficiencies and membrane defects.
- Developing non-invasive prenatal diagnostic technology for haemoglobinopathies using maternal blood.
- Searching for different lectins and their specificities for red cell antigen
- Development of the first sentinel laboratory to evaluate the progress of the HIV epidemic in India in the early years.
- Demonstration of Duffy negative red cells in tribals from Andaman and Nicobar Islands
- Mapping of G6PD deficiency/thalassaemia gene in the country.
- Demonstration of strong association of HLA – B 27 with haemophilic synovitis.
- Detection of many novel and very rare mutations in haemoglobinopathies, red cell enzymopathies and in many genes involved in congenital coagulation disorders. Some of them like Hb D – Agri, Hb M-Ratnagiri, Fibrinogen – Mumbai carry the mark of discovery from this Institute.
- Establishment of the Cytogenetics laboratory
- Establishment of the laboratory to study autoimmune disorders.
- Establishment of the laboratory to study congenital immuno deficiency disorders.
- Demonstration that FVIII inhibitor in India often develops post operatively
- Strong association of Budd – Chiari syndrome with FV Leiden
- Dengue virus is capable of infecting megakaryocytic precursors
- EACA has direct anti inhibiting effect on factor VIII inhibition.
- Development of few monoclonal antibodies against blood group antigens
- Classification of severe hemophilia using thromboelastrography and its implications in therapy.
- Development of techniques to expand HSC from cord blood and mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cord.
- Patenting a simple CRDB based technique for detection of common mutation causing thalassemia and a mismatch PCR for detecting common founder mutation in hemophilia B.
- Modulatory effect of co-inherited thrombophilia on clinical severity of haemophilia.
- Pattern of thrombophilia gene in patients with idiopathic venous thrombosis