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Heart doctor is ICMR chief

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    11 April 2018

New Delhi: The Union cabinet has approved the appointment of Balram Bhargava, a senior cardiologist, as the director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the government agency that funds and guides health research.

Bhargava, professor of cardiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, is expected to take up the position vacated by Soumya Swaminathan, the former DG-ICMR, who is now with the World Health Organisation as deputy director-general.

Former colleagues who are familiar with Bhargavas work have described him as an outstanding cardiologist who has made several contributions to biomedical innovation and research, including promoting the India Stanford Biodesign Programme, an initiative to develop low-cost implants and devices.

A government note released on Tuesday said the cabinet committee on appointments has approved Bhargava as DG-ICMR and secretary, department of health research, for three years, until the attainment of age of 60 years, or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

The ICMR, headquartered in Delhi with research centres in cities across India, pursues research in cancer, insect-borne diseases, malaria and virology, among other health topics.

A senior public health specialist welcomed Bhargavas appointment but said the ICMR had long been facing funds shortages for research.

"Its limited resources are spread too thin - this is a challenge," the specialist said.

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