Guwahati: The Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) has set up a centre – ICMR-DHR (Indian Council of Medical Research-Department of Health Research) Center of Excellence – for bio-medical device and diagnostics innovation and commercialisation to cater to the technological needs of rural India with a focus on last-mile healthcare delivery.

The centre is situated at the Centre of Nanotechnology and Jyoti and Bhupat Mehta School of Health Sciences and Technology at IIT-G.

This multi-disciplinary initiative is also in line with the National Education Policy 2020 wherein professors, researchers, entrepreneurs, doctors, and students from multiple departments join hands under a single umbrella to inculcate research and innovation in the domain of healthcare innovation.

The initiative has been led by the departments of chemistry, chemical engineering, bio-sciences and bio-engineering, electronics and electrical engineering, and design and mathematics, among others.

Elaborating on the initiative, IIT-G Director Prof. TG Sitharam said, “This centre is working towards realising the vision of the Prime Minister that all IITs be involved in helping the nation in terms of achieving the goals of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in the domain of healthcare technology development.”

Speaking about how the centre could have a vital impact on rural healthcare, Sitharam said, “The centre is envisioned to excel in the frugal innovations related to bio-medical devices and develop a unique academia-industry model for the product development related to the med-tech innovation in the country.”

“The translational innovations proposed in the centre are expected to cater to the societal needs related to the diagnostics and healthcare delivery, especially in rural India,” he added.

Among the key objectives of the ICMR Mission Secretariat at IIT Guwahati, detection of bio-markers using micro-fluidic and semiconductor nano-biosensors to detect various Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as chronic kidney disorder, post diabetic complications, liver or pancreatic malfunctions, cardiac illnesses and urinary tract infections are also included.

The centre aims to develop frugal point-of-care diagnostic devices for the collection, storage, security and analysis of the data specific to rural India.

It also aims to develop three indigenous products in the domain of healthcare that can be commercially successful in the near future besides innovating indigenous alternatives to healthcare devices (such as auto-analysers and semi-auto analysers) imported from other countries under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.

Prof Dipankar Bandyopadhyay, Head, Jyoti and Bhupat Mehta School of Health Sciences and Technology, IIT Guwahati, said, “Cutting-edge scientific inventions form the basis of all modern-day technologies, which help in improving the quality of life of a human being in a significant way.”

“However, the benefits of such inventions and innovations are yet to reach the rural population of India. In the next few decades, especially keeping the post-pandemic scenario in perspective, the focus of healthcare innovation would be to develop frugal technologies to cater the needs of the last mile population,” Bandyopadhyay added.

The key outcomes envisaged from this centre include an array of frugal point-of-care diagnostic devices, pilot scale digital health kiosks catering digital healthcare to the rural population, new inventions and innovations targeting the societal needs of the country and import substitution and development of Indian technologies for healthcare problems related to India.

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