It has no intentions to establish a medical school. But the increasing number of biology research projects at the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B) has prompted the institute to work with the medical community to solve problems ranging from developing a better drug delivery system to low-cost diagnostics.
IIT-B will soon establish a healthcare consortium that will bring together faculty, doctors and industry professionals to solve common health issues and share facilities and expertise.
The institute’s biology-related projects in the last decade have increased to 256 from 90 projects between 1990 and 2000.
More than 65 faculty members are presently involved in the biology projects.
Projects in the chemical engineering department have risen from 18 to 75 in the same period. Departments such as civil engineering and mechanical engineering have also begun undertaking bio-related projects.
“While there is very good research taking place in healthcare, it cannot be successful unless all the innovations in the field are linked,” said professor Devang Khakhar, director, IIT-B. “There is a higher chance of creating an impact on society while working together with different stakeholders.”
The consortium will marry the capability to connect basic research, applied research and product development.
An executive committee will be formed by May and letters of intent will be sent to hospitals in and around the city
and industries across the country.
Institutions such as KEM Hospital, Tata Memorial Hospital, Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Caner and the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health have informally agreed to be part of the consortium.
“Globally, there is a growing trend in the engineering discipline to look at inputs from life sciences in order to understand how nature has evolved,” said professor Rangan Banerjee, dean, research and development.
“A large section of the country’s population has no access to basic medical facilities. We want to bridge that gap,” he added.