DHR/ICMR Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory Network Establishment of a network of Laboratories for Managing Epidemics and Natural Calamities
Outbreaks of viral agents are frequent in India. Timely diagnosis of these outbreaks is critical to mount appropriate public health response. The inadequacy of specialized virology laboratories in the country was noticed in the past as well as during the recent H1N1 pandemic. To address the shortage of specialized virus research and diagnostic laboratories (VRDL) in the country, the Department of Health Research has decided to establish a network of laboratories across the country.
(1) Create infrastructure for timely identification of viruses and other agents causing morbidity significant at public health level and specifically agents causing epidemics and/or potential agents for bioterrorism. (2) Develop capacity for identification of novel and unknown viruses and other organisms, emerging and re-emerging viral strains and develop diagnostic kits (3) Provide training to health professionals (4) Undertake research for identification of emerging and newer genetically active/ modified agents
The network of VRDLs would be established in a phased manner during the 12th five-year plan period and would consist of 10 Regional laboratories (Grade-1), 30 state level laboratories (Grade-2) and 120 Medical college laboratories (Grade-3), as described in the following table:
|Regional labs||State labs||Medical college labs|
The National Institute of Virology, Pune and the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi would act as the apex laboratories for this network while the National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai would manage the data generated by the network and do timely analysis.
Regional laboratories (Grade-1 labs):
The Dept of Health Research has proposed to set up at least one BSL- 3 laboratory in each region and the following Institutions have been identified for this purpose:
|Region||Name of the lab|
Regional Medical Research Center for Tribals (ICMR), Jabalpur
Post Graduate Institute of Medical Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh.
|South||National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai|
|East||National Institute for Cholera &Enteric Diseases, Kolkata|
|West||National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmadabad|
|North-east||Regional Medical Research Center for North-east, Dibrugarh|
In addition to the aforesaid 6 Regional Labs, 4 additional Regional Labs would be established at four AIIMS like Institutes being set up by the Government of India.
The Regional labs would have state-of-art facilities to enable them to identify novel and unknown viruses, plan and undertake research activities and conduct surveillance of existing as well as new viruses. These labs would also play a key role in training the health professionals esp from the Grade-2 and Grade-3 labs.
State level laboratories (Grade-2 labs)
Of the 150 Government Medical Colleges to be covered under the scheme, it has been decided to establish State level Laboratories, in the various States / Union Territories in the 30 Govt. Medical Colleges, in a phased manner. The 8 States/UTs (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep) which do not presently have a Government Medical College will be covered by nearby State’s Lab or the Regional Lab.
These labs will be equipped with BSL- 2 facility and are expected to carry out serology, RT-PCR, isolation, fluorescence microscopy, tissue culture and sequencing for all enlisted viruses. These laboratories are also expected to be involved in basic as well as applied research on viruses, development of kits and diagnostic reagents and identification of unknown/referred samples from the Sub-state level laboratories.
Medical college laboratories (Grade-3 labs)
Of the 150 Government Medical Colleges, 120 will be covered for establishment of tier-3 labs. These labs will be equipped with the appropriate infrastructure to carry out serological and molecular diagnosis & research on common viral diseases. Each medical college lab will cover a cluster of 3-4 districts. In case of any outbreak / epidemic, these medical college level labs will carry out the initial diagnosis/ screening at the most peripheral areas & nearest to the site of outbreak. While the medical college labs will be expected to identify all listed common viruses, the viruses/agents which cannot be identified by these labs will be referred to the State/Regional Labs for identification and / or characterization.