Adding another feather to its cap, the interdisciplinary department of health science at Savirtibai Phule Pune University (SPPU) has been adjudged as the Centre of Excellence (CoE) by the Ministry of Ayush. With this new status, the department will play a pivotal role in building and strengthening human resource work in traditional medicine. The ministry has granted the varsity a sum of Rs 3.5 crore to set up the centre, which is expected to commence within a month.
“The grant will be for a period of three-and-a-half years, during which the department will work towards setting up the infrastructure required to roll out the training courses to conduct research in the field of traditional medicine,” said SPPU Vice-Chancellor NR Karmalkar. Additionally, the ministry of health and family welfare has funded Rs 96 lakh to the university to run fellowship programmes for teachers and students.
“The highlight of the course will be that students of all streams of medicine will be eligible to be trained in traditional medicine, making it an interdisciplinary course,” said Bhushan Patwardhan, head of interdisciplinary department of health science. The move comes at a time when there is growing emphasis on traditional medicines, to help find cures for serious illnesses, including cancer. Ever year, a total of 15 fellowships will be awarded to students, who will be chosen through a competitive exam. Best from among these 15 will then be granted Rs 30 lakh for further research.
“While the department has been for mainly working on developing adjutants for drugs used to treat cancer and arthiritis, the focus will remain on adding to the workforce of traditional medicine over the coming years,” added Patwardhan. Experts from noted institutes, including Pune-based National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) and Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), along with Manipal University and National Cancer Institute, USA, will be associated in operating the CoE.
Other consultants involved in CoE, who will team up in undertaking clinic trials are city-based Prashanti Cancer Care and Centre for Rheumatic Diseases, Kastruba Health Centre, Mumbai and Mayo Clinic, USA, added varsity authorities. “The building and other required infrastructural facilities will be initially readied, and by the end of the year, the ministry’s notification seeking application for fellowships is expected,” said Karmalkar.