International editors often lament that medical research in our country not only lacks quality, but we are even headed in the wrong direction. The research is often “ me too”, and largely irrelevant - it is not done in areas in which it is 'needed' in India (according to distribution, determinants and outcomes of diseases) like infectious diseases and mother and child health.
MGIMS is an exception. Right from its inception, MGIMS has accorded the highest importance to medical research. Several disorders - tuberculosis, filariasis, and leprosy, for example - are prevalent in this area as are snake bites, strokes and heart attacks. MGIMS faculty have focused on these areas and have shown that they have the ability to ask right questions and use appropriate study designs to find out answers to the problems they encounter every day.
The large number of funded projects awarded to the various departments is ample testimony to the potential of the researchers. MGIMS has consistently received funding from the Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, University Grants Commission, WHO, UNICEF, PATH (USA), Fogarty AIDS Research and Training Program, USA, Canadian Institute of Health Research, Population Health Research Institute, Canada, National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart Lung Blood Institute (NHLBI) and several such organizations.
Being located in Sevagram has never been a hurdle in acquiring either funds or facilities as the enthusiasm and the dedication of the faculty surpasses all other deterrents. With the support from extramural funding agencies, some of the pre and para clinical departments have developed good research laboratories with sophisticated instruments and infrastructure including CPCSEA registered animal house facilitating research in the areas of drug development, applied immunology and cellular and molecular biology. Similarly, researchers from Sevagram have also focused on community based research. Each year, the large numbers of national and international peer reviewed publications from this Institute provide evidence of excellence in research.
Worldwide, in medical schools, the phrase publish or perish (i.e. publish your research or risk losing your job) keeps on reminding young doctors and scientists that the ladder of academic success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of publications. Despite its cynicism the phrase makes an important point- if science is to grow, research and publications are important. Researchers at MGIMS- young and old- are conscious of this adage and strive hard to generate high quality research, year after year.
In an editorial (Nat Med J India 1998; 11:1-2), Dr Samiran Nundy had pointed out that less than10% of the projects funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research end as publications in indexed journals and in 1991 only 41 out of the 88 Indian medical colleges which received research grants produced any papers at all. This means, Nandi added, that most of the money doled out for research by our premier research body is being wasted. Not so in Sevagram.
Beginning 1971, the MGIMS faculty has published a total of 3160 research papers. These papers have found their way in such prestigious journals as JAMA, Int J Tuberc Lung Dis., PLos One, Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg, Eur Respir J, PLoS Med, Diagn Cytopathol, Acta Cytol, Int J Fertil and AIDS Care. Several papers have been cited more than 200 times and have been accorded high rank on citation index- a measure of the quality of paper.