Initiatives in Biological Research in Indian Psychiatry
Indian Journal of Psychiatry
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Biological psychiatry is an exploratory science for mental health. These biological changes provide some explicit insight into the complex area of 'brain-mind and behavior'. One major achievement of research in biological field is the finding to explain how biological factors cause changes in behavior. In India, we have a clear history of initiatives in research from a biological perspective, which goes back to 1958. In the last 61 years, this field has seen significant evolution, precision and effective utilization of contemporary technological advances. It is a matter of great pride to see that in spite of difficult times in terms of challenges of practice and services, administration, resource, funding and manpower the zest for research was very forthcoming. There was neither dedicated time nor any funding for conducting research. It came from the intellectual insight of our fore fathers in the field of mental health to gradually grow to the state of strategic education in research, training in research, international research collaborations and setting up of internationally accredited centers. During difficult economic conditions in the past, the hypothesis tested and conclusions derived have not been so important. It is more important how it was done, how it was made possible and how robust traditions were established. Almost an entire spectrum of biological research has been touched upon by Indian researchers. Some of these are electroconvulsive therapy, biological markers, neurocognition, neuroimaging, neuroendocrine, neurochemistry, electrophysiology and genetics. A lot has been published given the limited space in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry and other medical journals published in India. A large body of biological research conducted on Indian patients has also been published in International literature (which I prefer to call non-Indian journals). Newer research questions in biological psychiatry, keeping with trend of international standards are currently being investigated by the younger generation with great enthusiasm. What we have achieved so far is the foundation work in last 60 years. Our main challenge in development of biological psychiatry research in India remains resources in terms of manpower, funding and dedicated time for research psychiatrists. Developing basic sciences laboratories, discrete research questions, high quality methodology, and logistical support are some of the essentials. In the present time the culture of research has changed. It is specific and evidence-based. We have time-tested examples of International collaborative research. We need to get more resources, develop education, collaboration and effective leadership. In times to come, India will provide international leadership in basic and clinical biological psychiatry. There is hope.