Dr. Chiranjay Mukhopadhyay MBBS, MD, PDCC (Infectious Diseases), PhD
Professor of Microbiology and Associate Dean, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal
Director, Manipal Institute of Virology
Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, Karnataka, India
GVN Center Director
What are you and your institution currently working on regarding COVID-19?
Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV) is currently an ICMR-designated State Covid-19 diagnostic laboratory that has the capacity to diagnose more than 1000 patients’ samples a day. It is serving the constituent hospital, the community, and the state by conducting the molecular diagnostic testing for Covid-19 round the clock. It is also involved in the training and awareness programs for healthcare professionals. With industrial collaboration, it has stepped up innovation and entrepreneurship to build up Covid-19 screening facilities. It is involved in testing and validating anti-viral products that may be useful for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection and spread.
What are your current viral research programs?
Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV) is yet to start Covid-19 research, including genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in India, and is currently awaiting the approval of projects from the government. MIV has the best infrastructural facilities and experience to conduct Covid-19 research, and contributes in the best possible manner to fight the current surge of COVID-19 cases. MIV is also involved in many other viral research programs, such as Influenza, Dengue, Chikungunya, JEV, Herpes Simplex, Hepatitis, RSV and HPV.
Chiranjay Mukhopadhyay is a Clinical Microbiologist, Clinician Scientist and Infectious Diseases Specialist who is researching emerging tropical bacterial infections with a special interest in Melioidosis and global infection, including Antimicrobial Resistance and Diagnostic Stewardship. He is a Professor of Microbiology who teaches MD and MBBS students, Associate Dean of Kasturba Medical College, and Director of Manipal Institute of Virology.
He has worked on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) over 22 years that involves monitoring, analysis and interpretation for better treatment outcome. As the chairman for Hospital Infection Control Committee he has initiated AMSP in the hospital and in the community, and am the lead member in hospital infection prevention and control to formulate and implement the antibiotic policy in the hospital settings. He is involved in a number of prestigious projects – ‘Regional Center for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network’, ‘Capacity Building and Strengthening of Hospital Infection Control to detect and prevent antimicrobial resistance in India’, ‘Initiating Antimicrobial Stewardship activities in hospitals in India’, ‘Expansion of antimicrobial stewardship (AMSP) and infection control program (ICP) of ICMR in secondary care hospitals’, ‘Capacity Building and Strengthening of Hospital Infection Control to detect and prevent Surgical Site Infection (SSI) in C-Section and Ventilator Associate Pneumonia (VAP)’ – to name a few of them.
He is leading the melioidosis research in India for over 15 years. As an Executive Committee Founder Member of the International Melioidosis Network (IMN), He has conducted workshops and seminars on melioidosis to create awareness in the country and hosted the 1st South Asian Melioidosis Congress in 2015. He is holding ‘Dr. TMA Pai Endowment Chair’ and ‘Center for Emerging and Tropical Diseases’ by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. The cross-cutting research over years was acknowledged by the Government of India while the first-ever ‘Communicable Disease Alert’ (CD Alert) on melioidosis was released under his leadership from NCDC, New Delhi; it has reached to the health care givers at every corner of the country. Till today, more than 300 cases all over India are diagnosed and Indian Melioidosis Research Forum is formed, which is now serving as a Reference Center and has secured prestigious national and international awards and grants.
During his tenure as the Director of MIV for last 1 year, MIV received NABL accreditation status as a diagnostic laboratory. It aims to achieve the status of a Viral Reference Laboratory with a nation-wide recognition. It is in the process of preparing serological and molecular diagnostic panels that may include markers for Dengue, Chikungunya, Japanese Encephalitis, Varicella Zoster, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Influenza, RSV, etc. MIV plans to initiate translational research in vaccinology, diagnostics, antivirals, and public health virology, with a mission to empower its research component. MIV aims to join hands with ‘One Health Program’ with University of Sydney and also to establish Centre for Hepatitis Research and Antiviral Research in southern India.
Overview of the Manipal Institute of Virology
Manipal Institute of Virology (MIV), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) was created on 1st May 2010 by upgrading the virology laboratory of the Department of Microbiology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal into a university department.
Currently, MIV houses the IDSP-Regional Reference Laboratory for Influenza Virus and the DHR/ICMR Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory- Grade I. MIV is also the NVBDCP Apex Referral Laboratory for Dengue, Japanese Encephalitis and Chikungunya; all of which are Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India supported programmes. The centre also enjoys an excellent working relationship with National, State and District Public health services.
It is a NABL accredited laboratory in accordance with ISO 15189:2012 in the field of Medical testing for the disciplines of Microbiology and Infectious disease serology and molecular testing. MIV has a Biosafety level-2 (BSL-2) laboratory that adheres strictly to the biosafety norms outlined by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Govt. Of India (GoI), extending diagnostic and research facilities, primarily focused to meet public health needs. It is one of the premier virology research centers in India with a capacity to diagnose infectious diseases with different viral etiologies. MIV has the state-of-the-art infectious disease diagnostic facility, a blend of classical and advanced methods that provides the capability to detect 40+ viruses with an average turnaround time (TAT) of 24 hours. Detailed patient and epidemiologic information are communicated strictly through email to the district and state surveillance units. MIV also extends virological consultancy services in patient care as and when required.
MIV, as one of the best virology institutes in India, has the platform for cross-cutting in-depth research in the field of Influenza viruses, Herpes simplex viruses, Enteroviruses, Human Papilloma Virus, etc., and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). MIV has several ongoing research programs, those are conceived considering the impact of viral diseases on human population and the need for developing useful treatment strategies against these diseases. The varied areas of research mainly focus on improving clinical diagnosis of viral diseases, infectious disease surveillance (Influenza, Hepatitis, Chikungunya, Dengue, and HPV-induced cervical cancer), and epidemiological studies including molecular epidemiology of emerging and re-emerging viral diseases. The current thrust areas of research at MIV are focused on developing various strategies for newer and alternative treatment (prophylactic and therapeutic) modalities, platforms for testing antivirals, immunological profiling of viral diseases and development of diagnostic kits and vaccines. MIV is a part of two major Translational Research Consortia projects related to viruses causing neglected tropical diseases such as Chikungunya and Dengue, in collaboration with national and international partners. MIV is also one of the key performers in the ‘ENDFLU – Horizon 2020’ project, which has seven Indian and seven European partners. Additionally, research on advanced molecular diagnostics and pathogen discovery are also evolving as core research areas at MIV. Disease awareness and community-based studies on Hepatitis, Rabies and cervical cancer-causing virus, such as the Human Papilloma virus are worth mentioning.
MIV has strong collaborations with a various reputed national and international institutions that supported the uniqueness a public service programme on a private platform in the short span of time. It has proven to be one of the best public-private partnerships in the development of public health infrastructure in the country.
Apart from disease diagnostics and research, MIV supports the state and national health services for outbreak investigation and disease surveillance activities. MIV has been instrumental in confirming more than 150 viral outbreaks, while around 30 outbreaks were investigated by MIV team in various parts of the country.