Lab infrastructure is a must to enhance research ecosystem in Ayurvedic colleges

Due to practical hands-on training in the preparation of Ayurvedic medicines, a large number of students would be motivated to pursue research
The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) has directed the Ayurvedic colleges in the country to mandatorily have a central research laboratory and an animal experimentation laboratory. As per the regulations of NCISM, colleges would need to comply with the provisions specified under the ‘Minimum Standards of Undergraduate Ayurveda Education’, wherein, Ayurveda graduates shall have good knowledge of Ashtanga Ayurveda along with the contemporary advances in the field of Ayurveda, supplemented with knowledge of scientific and technical advances in modern sciences so that Ayurveda becomes a hybrid system of healthcare encompassing salient features from across the domains. To make the research system qualitative in nature, NCISM is also training postgraduate teachers in ‘Scientific Writing and Publication Ethics’.
Speaking to Education Times, Sanjeev Sharma, director, National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur, says, “Due to this decision of NCISM, the research ecosystem within the Ayurvedic system of medicine will expand. Most of the Ayurvedic colleges have a central research laboratory and some of them which do not have such facilities, would mandatorily need to build infrastructure for setting up of research laboratories. Along with the laboratories, animal houses need to be set up in the campus of every college if the research ecosystem is to be qualitatively enhanced. There are three levels of research laboratories: basic level laboratories, mid-level laboratories and advanced laboratories. NCISM has mandated the setting up of central research laboratories and animal experimentation laboratory with an aim to enhance the credibility of research in Ayurveda. We have already set up an advanced animal house and drug discovery development unit in our institute.”
“Initially, the field of Ayurvedic Medicine was struggling, but now due to an increased awareness among students and teachers, good quality research publications are being published. During the Covid pandemic, many studies were undertaken by the Ayurvedic students to develop new curative methods through Ayurveda. Currently, 50 research projects related to animal experimentation are going on in our animal house. Apart from this, our students are enrolled in many research programmes. We also have Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with the National Innovation Research Foundation (NIRF), the Academy of Scientific and Innovation Research (ACSIR) and various state medical colleges. An e-learning programme for students has been introduced and meaningful learning workshops, seminars, conferences and webinars are conducted to train the students in various domains of Ayurveda,” informs Sharma.
“High end simulation labs and virtual simulation labs have also been set up to provide a congenial research environment to students,” adds Sharma.
Yamini B Tripathi, former dean, faculty of Ayurveda, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), says, “Setting up of research laboratories and animal experimental laboratories is essential for the development of Ayurveda. However, to ensure that students get the right guidance while undertaking their research, mentors having sound academic credentials like a PhD in Biochemistry, Zoology and Chemistry need to head these laboratories. Students pursuing MD in Ayurveda now mandatorily have to publish at least one research paper. These research papers published in any peer reviewed journals on the principles of Ayurvedic medicines, are essential for their scientific validation at the international level.”

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