State Award for Dr.Subarna Roy, Director of ICMR, Belagavi

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Bengaluru: Dr. Subarna Roy, Director of the ICMR-National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Belagavi, was awarded the prestigious KSTA Fellowship in Basic & Clinical Medical Sciences for the year 2022 at an event held in Bengaluru on August 2nd, 2022. The Fellowship was conferred by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, Prof. Ajay K. Sood, in the presence of the Minister for Higher Education, Electronics, IT-BT, Science and Technology and Skill Development for the Govt. of Karnataka, Dr. Ashwath Narayan, C.N.

Dr.Subarna Roy, a specialist in infectious diseases, is honoured for his contribution to the molecular epidemiology of infectious diseases in North Karnataka. Dr. Roy set up an infectious disease laboratory in 2009 at the ICMR, Belagavi and identified and investigated outbreaks of infectious diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, diphtheria, and hepatitis in various districts of North Karnataka, supported the State Health system and strengthened the Medical Colleges in outbreak investigation and response. He helped set up COVID-19 testing laboratories in various districts, and his laboratory in Belagavi later led the way in COVID-19 testing in the region and trained Medical College staff from other districts when the pandemic started. He played a major role in estimating the burden of Rotavirus diarrhoea in children in parts of North Karnataka and Southwestern Maharashtra and identified the circulating strains in an ICMR-Networked project that led to the introduction of Rotavirus vaccination in the Universal Immunization Programme. Dr. Subarna Roy was the first to flag a resurgence of diphtheria in Karnataka State, highlighting the re-emergence of the disease and an increase in deaths. He was involved in advocacy for the availability of DAT in affected areas to reduce deaths (through a Policy Brief sent to the Govt of Karnataka through ICMR, New Dehli). He has also conducted a national survey for diphtheria antibodies in various groups of children and flagged waning immunity in older children, calling for better DPT coverage and appropriate booster dosage. Working with the State Government, Dr. Subarna Roy established the Model Rural Health Research Unit at Sirwar, Raichur district. which is working on the improvement of the health status of deprived and marginalised people of the region. Dr. Roy has trained numerous students and professionals, including guiding some of them to the award of doctorate degrees.

Dr. Subarna Roy was the first to establish human parechovirus as a causal agent of childhood diarrhoea and one of the first to establish the role of salivirus in causing childhood diarrhoea in India.

He was one of the first scientists to notice rotaviral diarrhoea in older children and young adults, contrary to popular belief at the time that it only affected children under the age of five.

Dr. Roy was responsible for carrying out a serosurvey for dengue infection in Karnataka, whereby he was part of the first national level survey that showed wide variability in natural antibody levels, but the west, south, and north regions were found to have high seroprevalence, and therefore this would be crucial while determining the need for future dengue vaccines.

Dr.Subarna Roy identified a potential traditional medicinal lead for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 using Reverse Pharmacology and Herbal Informatics, which has been provisionally patented.

Dr. Roy was appointed as Scientist G & Director of the ICMR-National Institute of Traditional Medicine recently in November 2021 in the Health Research Scientist Cadre of the Dept of Health Research, Govt of India. It is one of the senior-most positions in the Central Government at the level of Joint Secretary.

The KSTA has been functioning since 2005, with the objectives of inculcating scientific temper across civil society through science communication and technology dissemination; fostering innovations and entrepreneurship for societal benefits, recognising talents and organising outreach programmes; capacity building; and acting as the STI Policy Advisory Body for the State. KSTA provides fellowships and awards in recognition of contributions in various disciplines such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, Medicine, and Education.

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