Research work at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) may suffer with the premier medical institute staring at a shortage of scientists. Five scientists are due to retire in six months while the institute is already short of 10 scientists.
The total sanctioned strength of scientists at AIIMS is 50 but 15 or more posts are likely to fall vacant in the next few months. Though the institute has advertised for ad-hoc posts for research projects in the last three years, it has not recruited any scientist on payroll.
AIIMS successfully completed 146 research projects last year and this year the institute has started work on 126 new ones. "All this work and more research in other departments may suffer because of this sudden loss of scientist strength," said a scientist, who didn't wish to be named.
"In an institute body meeting of 2009, it was recommended that the age of retirement of scientists be increased from 60 to 62 and the age of teaching staff from 62 to 65 years. While the latter happened, the case of retirement age was put on the back burner," said a scientist from the department of bio-physics, requesting anonymity.
"The health ministry has also sent the institute at least five reminders seeking a detailed proposal, giving justification for increasing the retirement age of scientists, their work profile, cadre and their salaries but the AIIMS administration is silent on the matter," he claimed. AIIMS gets more funds for research
"On one hand, the administration promotes the medical school as a research institute but it is neither doing anything on the age front nor is it hiring more scientists," said another scientist from the department of laboratory medicine.
The AIIMS administration said the process of retaining scientists was under way. "The matter is with the government," said Dr RK Deka, director, AIIMS.
Indian Council of Medical Research had increased the age limit of its scientists in 2008 but AIIMS is still to follow suit.