SEZ bio-medical science park of the country

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Frontier Mediville, panning 360 acres, located 40 km from Chennai, at Elavur village in Tiruvallur of Tamil Nadu, is the first SEZ bio-medical science park of the country . Developed by Frontier Lifeline Hospitals and Dr KM Cherian Heart Foundation as a joint venture with Tamil Nadu Industrial Developmental Corporation and Technology Development Board, it is envisaged as a one-stop solution for healthcare education, research and training.

The first National Medical Science Park of India, it will be a place for treatment, training and research, with focus on regenerative medicine. This will act as a platform for a proposed 1,000 bed multi-speciality ‘Bio-Hospital’ which is an emerging concept that combines clinical medicine with regenerative medicine. This unique hospital would provide state-of-the-art tertiary care in all sub-specialties of medicine supported by modern basic sciences such as stem cell technology, tissue engineering, nanotechnology and neurite.

Dr KM Cherian, heart surgeon and founding chairman of Frontier Lifeline Hospitals, spoke to edex on the facilities available at the science park and their research.

What are the ongoing researc­h projects at the science park?

Various doctoral research projects are ongoing in several disciplines like Biotechnology, Biochemistry, Clinical pharmacology, Ethno pharmacology and Toxicology, apart from other specific projects. We research and manufacture tissue-based biological implants and tissue products that can be used for cardiac, neuro and plastic surgeries. Related research on tissue engineering, especially on xenografts (tissue or organs from an individual of one species transplanted into or grafted onto an organism of another species) for patients suffering from congenital heart diseases is another interesting area; and we have invented a novel technology for complete de-cellurisation of xenografts.

Research on stem cell and genetics are also underway at Fromtier Mediville. We are separating multi-potent cells into adipocytes, osteocytes, hepatocytes and cardio-myocytes from bone-marrow, cord blood and atrial tissue. In genetics, we are looking into specific gene mutations associated with congenital heart diseases.

Tell us about the research facilities available at the science park

We have a Herbarium, which houses and will develop genetically engineered plants and medical plants. These plant molecules will help in extraction of elements for therapeutic treatment. There is a ‘Sterile Biomedical Corridor’ to facilitate manufacture of consumables, disposables and pharmaceutical products required at the hospital and research laboratories. A Medical University/Research and Training Centre has also been set-up. This Centre will incorporate a Regional Centre for Nurse and Paramedic Training in collaboration with Sir Edward Dunlop Health Foundation, Australia.

What are the UG and PG courses offered at the centre?

We offer BSc in Cardiac Care Technology, Cardio Pulmonary and Perfusion Care Technology, Medical Laboratory Technology, Radiology Imaging Technology, Physician Assistant (PA), Anaesthesia Technology, Nuclear Medicine Technology and Renal Dialysis Technology. MBA in Hospital and Health System Management is also offered. BSc and diploma courses in nursing (auxiliary nursing and midwives) are also options to choose from. We are also planning to introduce hospital architecture, health economics and healthcare management courses, apart from setting up a Frontier International Academy in Medical Sciences (Research and Training).

What is the status of bio-tech education in the country?

In our country, there are 500 institutions that deliver degrees in biotech courses and about five lakh students graduate from these institutions. Hardly 100 of these students are employed. It is due to lack of research and training opportunities in the country. To fill up the gap, we have started innovative PA, UG and PG programmes and have affiliated with MGR University, Pondicherry University, University of Madras and Bharat Seva Samah.

Do you have any collaborations with other organisations?

Yes, we have signed a few MoUs, withKorea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, South Korea; University of Minnesota, US; University of Southern Denmark, and Macmaster University, Canada. These MoUs will facilitate exchange of scientists, medical personnel, faculty and students for research and academic purposes.

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