By Dr Till Bachmann, Deputy Head of Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine, the University of Edinburgh
Full of great impressions, ideas, and new contacts, I’ve just returned to Edinburgh from a busy week travelling in India. I attended two UK-India Workshops. Entitled ‘Affordable medical diagnostics and devices: From ideation to commercialization’ these took place in Chennai, and at the Venture Centre at NCL Innovation Park in Pune, with point of care diagnostics of antimicrobial resistance the topic for discussion.
The trip was organised by Sheryl Anchan of the Deputy British High Commission and UK Science and Innovation Network and involved six other colleagues from the UK. Affordable healthcare is of great importance to the developing and developed world with issues on accessibility on the one side and surging healthcare costs on the other.
UK Delegates and Mathi Mathivathani of British Deputy High Commission at ‘Affordable medical diagnostics and devices: From ideation to commercialization’ workshop in Chennai
Both workshops, organised with great hospitality and professionalism, presented a fulminant collection of examples on how affordable and accessible healthcare can be realised by innovation in science and technology of medical devices and diagnostics. Academic and policy presentations from across India were completed by dynamic entrepreneurial examples ranging from paper-based microfluidics, colour-changing dipsticks for infectious disease diagnostics, and battery free defibrillators for use in rural India, to advanced business models involving cutting edge technologies such as next generation sequencing. Antimicrobial resistance was a recurring theme of the events, underpinned by the passionate talk on the Longitude Prize by Abdul Ghafur, who is the primary author of the landmark Chennai Declaration.
Our trip was enriched by visits to the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) and the Christian Medical College (CMC) at Vellore. At IITB we spoke to entrepreneurs at their impressive Innovation Centre and a wide range of faculty, including Santosh Noronha who heads the Healthcare Research Consortium. Very warmly welcomed at CMC Vellore by Prof Anna Pulimood, Vice Principal HR and Prof Nihal Thomas, Vice Principal Research, we had excellent opportunities to establish links with our respective counterparts.
There is a long-standing relation to the University of Edinburgh and Scotland including visits by Sir Alexander Fleming and Edinburgh microbiologists as well as the joint CMC Vellore – Edinburgh MSc in Family Medicine that started in September 2014. Strong burden of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance as well as high patient numbers combined with outstanding excellence in clinical microbiology at CMC Vellore make ideal conditions for closer collaboration.
Sir Alexander Fleming at CMC Vellore
Having established plenty of new links and opportunities, I am sure to come back soon and extend our collaboration in research and teaching on infectious diseases, diagnostics and antimicrobial resistance with partners and the many new friends in India. See you soon back in bustling India!