CHENNAI, 11th May 2023: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) has launched a Department of Medical Sciences and Technology (https://mst.iitm.ac.in/), which will offer four-year B.S. program in medical sciences and engineering in. This course will be a first-of-its-kind in India.
The Department was launched today (11th May 2023) in the presence of Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Co-Founder, Cognizant, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, Medical clinicians on the Steering Committee of the Department and other stakeholders.
The course offers an interdisciplinary approach to prepare students for designing life-saving medical devices, drug discovery, artificial intelligence in medicine, and fundamental medical research. The department will train physicians to effectively apply technology in their clinical practice and lay the foundation for physician-scientists training in India.
Top medical doctors in India and abroad, who were also closely involved in the development of the curriculum, will be ‘Professors of Practice’ in this department, which has already established tie-ups with premier hospitals and medical institutions in India.
Addressing the inaugural function, Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Co-Founder, Cognizant, said, “Collaborative research in medical sciences can catapult India to a global leader in clinical outcomes. Our leadership in Space, nuclear, digital and biotechnology has demonstrated our research capability and potential. Extending this capability to Medicine is a natural next step.”
Innovation can be found at the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, chemistry, micro biomes, cognitive science and such other sciences. Investment in such collaborative research and practice is sure to produce outstanding clinical results.”
The goal is to establish an exceptional research facility for medical sciences and technology to develop and train ‘physician-scientists’ and engineering physiologists to become the future leaders in their fields. The new department will conduct both fundamental and applied research programs that connect various medical disciplines.
By providing the necessary resources and platform, IIT Madras hope to enable researchers to create innovative technologies that will improve the lives of patients for generations to come. The Institute also aims to establish an exceptional research facility for medical sciences and technology to develop and train physician-scientists and engineering physiologists to become the future leaders in their fields.
The Institute will also conduct both fundamental and applied research programs that connect various medical disciplines. By providing the necessary resources and platform, we hope to enable our researchers to create innovative technologies that will improve the lives of patients for generations to come.
Addressing the launch event, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “During the COVID outbreak in India, it became evident that we needed to incorporate technology into medicine to effectively handle similar situations in the future as a country. Though we hope such challenges never arise again, this intervention will be crucial in defining our response.”
Prof. V. Kamakoti added, “Our mission is to unite professionals from medicine and technology to create ground-breaking solutions for medical issues that were once unsolvable. Our aim is to improve treatment options and revolutionize healthcare. Continuing our mission of IITM for ALL, we aspire to provide technological interventions in the field of medicine that shall enable quality and affordable Medicare to reach every citizen of our country.”
The Department of Medical Sciences & Technology will offer the following courses:
- BS in Medical Sciences & Engineering (4 Year Programme)
- PhD Programme for Doctors
- MS by Research for Doctors
- MS in Medical Sciences and Engineering
- PhD Programme for Science & Engineering Graduates
Highlighting the unique aspects of this program, Prof. Boby George, Head, Department of Medical Sciences and Technology, IIT Madras, said, “With this interdisciplinary approach to improve the healthcare outcomes by leveraging engineering and medical knowledge, new technologies can be developed that monitor vital parameters of various organs, detects signs of disease, and help to provide targeted prevention and treatment options. As engineering and medicine continue to converge, the possibilities are endless.”
Course Coordinator, Prof. R. Krishna Kumar, Institute Professor, IIT Madras, said, “The admission procedure will be through IISER Aptitude Test (IAT). Candidates must have cleared Class XII (or equivalent) examination with science stream in 2022 or 2023 from any board recognized by Council of Boards of Department Education in India.”
Further information and updates could be obtained from the Department Website – https://mst.iitm.ac.in/.
Prof. R. Krishna Kumar added, “Imagine you are able to create a digital twin of a patient and try out various treatment options or surgical procedures. Your treatment advice may be a vital input for the treating physician or surgeon and save precious lives. The course will train you to be an important link in the future of clinical practice.”
He further added, “The course structure involves an internship in a hospital to tie theory and practice. The courses in the programme will be taught by both medical and engineering faculty and will provide a strong research base for students.”
The understanding of disease development and the creation of therapies, devices, and technologies are largely driven by physician-scientists, with many historical examples to support this fact. To produce more physician-scientists, our department offers two important programs: MS (by research) and PhD.
Recognizing the importance of collaboration between doctors and engineers, we also offer a dual PhD program that encourages the development of devices and data analytics. Clinicians with innovative ideas who register for a doctorate will be paired with engineering PhD students who will focus on the engineering aspects through simulation and bench tests. Together, the doctor and engineer will work on creating a framework to turn the idea into a marketable product. The clinician will also conduct product trials to prepare it for the market.
The department is introducing a distinctive program for clinicians called the entrepreneurial doctorate. This program allows doctors to create a product, and the IIT system will provide guidance and support for their entrepreneurial endeavors.
DOCTORS INVOLVED IN THE IIT MADRAS BS PROGRAM
Dr. Ajit S. Mullasari, Director of Cardiology, Institute of Cardio-Vascular Diseases, Madras Medical Mission, said, “This will be a great platform for the passing out graduates to work in hospitals and in departments which are clinical. They will be exposed to a lot of the medical technology, patient care and adapt it to use it for products and licences so that we can build infrastructure in this country for delivering better healthcare.”
Dr. K.R. Balakrishnan, Chairman, Institute of Cardiac Sciences and Director, Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support, MGM Healthcare, said, “I am delighted to be a part of the BS program in Medical Sciences and Engineering. This fills a long standing need in the country to bring together the two disciplines for the progress of basic health issues. I wish that the research program results in path breaking work in the field of medical sciences.”
Dr. Karthik Kailash, Professor and Head, Spine Surgery, Sri Ramachandra University, said, “This course is a boon for many, many youngsters who have got aspirations to doing newer and lateral thinking projects. Additionally, this is going to be engineering medicine, which is going to be a key game-changer for youngsters in this part of the world.”
Dr.C.Kesavadas, Deputy Director, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, Thiruvananthapuram said, “It is indeed heartening to hear that our country’s prestigious educational institution, IIT Madras, is starting the new teaching program leading to PhD and BS qualifications for creating Physician-scientists. Blending clinical care with biomedical/ laboratory research can be both challenging and stimulating for the professionals who take up this career path. The teaching program and manpower created will promote closer interactions between clinicians, engineers & scientists which in turn can result in a better understanding of disease & its management strategies, drug and medical device development, and finding more affordable solutions for affordable & accessible medical care. The scientific contribution of a physician-scientist can positively influence the lives of many fellow human beings.”
Dr. Rajan Ravichandran, Director, MIOT Institute of Nephrology, said, “There has been a long-standing need in this country. Engineers and doctors have been in their own worlds and the integration between the two has nearly never happened. This particular course where engineers are going to get exposed to various medical branches and the medical line of thinking, while at the same time, with an engineering mind, will make a great difference. This will be the stepping stone of a new speciality in the country.”
Dr. Rajiv Raman, Senior Consultant and a retinal expert from Sankara Nethralaya said, “This is a unique interdisciplinary course in the country, as in none other course you have a mixture of engineering stream and the doctors stream. Today, we are in the time where technology and medicine have really immersed together. A doctor cannot practice any field of medicine without the use of technology.”
Prof. Sivakumar, of the Manipur Central University, with a decade long experience in medical research at Cleveland Clinic said, “I have not seen such a well-designed program anywhere in the world. The BS program is a well thought out amalgamation of the principles of science, engineering and medicine. The PhD program fills the much needed gap in this country. I am sure the students of these programs will churn out meaningful solutions to difficult clinical problems.”
Dr. Suresh Seshadri, Director, Mediscan Systems, said, “I feel this is a very important course because it is bringing engineering and medicine together. When we see engineers working inside a medical environment, it is going to make a big change in not only creating new talent but innovations are also much more oriented towards the bedside.”
Dr. Venkatraman Sadanand, Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Loma Linda, U.S., who did his B.Tech (Electrical Engineering) from IIT Madras, said, “Right now, we are in a situation in India where a lot of medical care and clinical medicine using devices and materials have a high cost incurred by taking and borrowing equipment from abroad. These are expensive to buy and maintain and upgrade. That needs to change. We want to progress beyond what we are doing right now and most of the innovations in clinical medicine comes from Engineering. We need the doctor to be able to think what kind of engineering solutions can help clinical medicine and we need engineers to think how they can contribute to the progress of clinical medicine.”
Dr. S. Vijayakumar, Faculty, Narayana Medical College, said, “The department of Medical Science and Technology is the non-fungible token of Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM). As a medical scientist, I envisage bridging the gap between Engineering Technology and Medical Sciences. This is an integrated engineering and medical education twined program which eventually will evolve into designing of health care delivery in a metaverse platform. These medical scientists’ training programs is the state of the art kind and this will be upshot in budding engineering capable doctors.”
Dr. Vijit Cherian, Director, Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery and Heart Failure, Madras Medical Mission Hospital, said, “The realm of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery has made immense strides in the recent few decades. All this has been possible due to the technological advances of Engineering. The time is right now for medicine and engineering to come together and take things to a different level. That is where the BS Program in Medical Sciences and Technology comes in.”
Senior Executives from the Medical Devices industry give an industry perspective on the BS Programme in Medical Sciences and Engineering
Mr. Sunil Joshi, Director, Getinge India, said, “When we talk about ‘Make in India’ for the world, we have to develop new products that will give support to new innovative techniques. For this, our young minds have to be equipped with greatest and latest technological advances and they have to have an understanding of the industrial footprint that exists in India.”
Mr. Wilson Thomas, Managing Director, Carl Zeiss India, said, “This is a great step in finding solutions to common problems that which we do not have that often go-to market strategies. There are many medical companies – medical devices, solutions and software – which are operating in India which can absorb these students.”