18-20 December 2018, hosted by the Board of Genetic Counselling, Hyderabad, Telangana, India.
This 3 day event was organized by the Board of Genetic Counselling India with the sole aim of providing practicing and trainee genetic counselors opportunity for learning and enhancing skills in genetic counseling with specific focus on current trends in genomics led clinical practice. The UK Faculty, led by Professor Kumar, delivered key note lectures and engaged in interactive discussions on new emerging aspects of genetic and genomic counseling.
The highlight of this event was to take in depth look into current training opportunities across India for genetic counselors as a new healthcare profession. Dr. Anita Singh, Senior Director, representing the non-statutory Healthcare Sector Council on behalf of the Government of India led the discussion on the structure and organization of the Genetic Counselling in India as a specialist healthcare profession. The Board of Genetic Counselling of India is now committed for defining skills required by practicing and new genetic cousellors in line with the International standards and guidelines. The GMF-UK is taking the lead in this important exercise through establishing new contacts with the UK Association for Genetic Nurses and Counsellors (AGNC), affiliated with the British Society of Genetic Medicine.
17-18 December 2018, Frontier Line Hospital, Dr. K. M. Cherian Heart Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
One of the highlights of the 2018 round of the Indo-UK Genetic Education Forum was the specialist symposium on Inherited Heart Diseases in South India. The event was hosted by the Dr. K.M. Cherian Heart Foundation, pioneer of the cardiovascular surgery in India. The Foundation is a registered non-government charitable organization offering state of the heart treatment, including heart transplantation, to most of south India. The Foundation has now initiated a programme to include inherited heart conditions. The symposium was a huge success and was attended by Cardiologists, Cardiac surgeons, Cardiac nurses and many other healthcare professionals. The visiting Faculty led by Professor Kumar from the UK & the Netherlands delivered keynote lectures and presented the current status of multi-disciplinary care for patients & families affected with genetic heart diseases.
The GMF-UK sponsored a large team of eight overseas Faculty for the 4th International Conference on Birth Defects. This major event, the main engagement of the 2018 round of the Indo-UK Genetic Education Forum, is the biennial conference organized by the Society of the Indian Academy of Medical Genetics. The three days event included key note lecture delivered by Prof. Dian Donnai from Manchester and series of plenary lectures and a number of educational sessions. Professor Kumar delivered the prestigious ‘Dr. S. S. Agarwal Oration’, held annually in honour of the Late Dr. Agarwal, the founder of medical genetics in India.
The conference included three educational interactive workshops on genetic counseling for rare diseases, cardiovascular genetics and cancer genetics. Overall, the conference was a huge success and brought much closer teams from India and UK/ Netherlands. The conference also served as an effective platform for the new UK India Genomic Medicine Alliance attracting a number of established and new medical genetic centres and Institutes to work closely on genomic applications in medicine and healthcare.
3-10 December 2018, Advance Centre for Treatment, Research, Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Tata Memorial Centre, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
This event is part of the continued seminars and conferences led by the Indo UK Genetic Education Forum, a major initiative of the GMF-UK. As the Chair of the forum and member of the scientific committee, Professor Kumar played a key role in this most successful professional and educational event largely focusing on common and rare cancers managed by the iconic and prestigious Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital in Mumbai. He delivered the Plenary Lecture on ‘Genomic Education in Developing Countries’. He shared his views on the organization and delivery of the modified curriculum and format for the genetic and genomic education best suited to low and fast emerging economies of the developing world.
7-9 December 2018, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, CSIR, New Delhi; hosted by the India Alliance of the Wellcome Trust (UK) and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.
Professor Kumar served on the Faculty of this highly sought after training workshop led by the India Alliance. This workshop is intended to generate interest and support few selected medical and postgraduate medical graduates with an aim to develop future generation of clinician scientists. He introduced the complex clinical scenarios highlighting the scope and challenges of genome sequencing in current and future medical practice. The feedback has been very good with prospects of continued collaboration in future workshops within the remit of the UK India Genomic Medicine Alliance, one of the leading projects of the Genomic Medicine Foundation (UK).
6th December 2018, Superspecialty Paediaric Hospital Post Graduate Training Institute, Gautam Budh Nagar (NOIDA), UP.
As the Guest of Honour, Professor Kumar delivered the Keynote address on the role of next generation genome sequencing in the diagnosis and management of rare genetic diseases focusing on primary immune deficiency syndromes. The main focus was enhancing the knowledge base and necessary skills of tertiary clinicians managing these groups of rare diseases. The outcome of this seminar has been encouraging with further invitations on future occasions.
‘The Assam Hereditary Diseases Programme’ is a new collaborative project of the GMF-UK initiated by Professor Kumar during his visit (30 November to 3 December 2018) led by the North Eastern Indian state of Assam (see Map).
This project includes other states in the north east India. The Assam Medical College (Guwahati & Dibrugarh and the North East Regional Research Medical Research Centre (Dibrugarh, RMRC) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) hosted the two events. This is a major development given the specific geographic limitations and endogamous Assamese and NE Indian populations. One of the important aspects of this novel project is genetic and genomic education for medical and healthcare professionals in the North East sector of India. This initiative is well timed as the present Government of India has invested heavily to enhance the North East region that is one of the most deprived parts of India.
As the Invited Speaker at this International Conference, Professor Kumar shared clinical experience of managing inherited heart diseases using the next generation genome sequencing technology. He gave emphasis on the need of evidence-based medical practice whatever the power of technology might be. He pointed out delivering the most effective and efficient specialist medical service using the need for being equipped with new knowledge and translational aspects of genomics. The GMF-UK continues to collaborate with the Select-Bio for promoting genetic/genomic education across India.
This International Conference, held on 27-28 November 2018, considered safe and environmentally friendly scientific developments for the benefit of developing nations like India. Professor Kumar discussed genome technology applications in medicine and healthcare as an example for environmentally friendly biotechnology developments. The GMF-UK is invited by the Uttaranchal University, Dehradun to continue advising on the curriculum for applied biosciences and healthcare as part of the India’s programme for climate and environment improvement.
This three days event was one of its kind and offered opportunity to medical and science Faculty, Clinicians and postgraduate trainees to understand and enhance the current status of genomic and molecular medicine as applied to the current and future practice of clinical medicine and healthcare. The workshop was supported by the Royal College of Physicians in London and was awarded 15 hours of Category 1(External) continuous professional development (CPD) credits.
The overseas Faculty included Professor Kumar (Cardiff), Professor William Newman (Manchester), Professor Patricia Munroe (London) and Professor Indu Singh (Gold Coast, Australia). The workshop was hugely successful with excellent feedback. This event is likely to be held again.
The main outcome of this workshop is the commitment made by the King George’s Medical University, the oldest and one of the best in India, to set up and offer a new 3 years MPhi/PhD programme in genomic and molecular medicine. Professor Kumar is the Lead Overseas Faculty and assigned with the task of developing the curriculum, assessment criteria and process for overall conduct of this new higher degrees programme.
The GMF-UK Medical Director, Prof. Dhavendra Kumar emphasized, through the Indian media, the urgent action needed on the current and future state of genomic medicine education in a developing nation like India. Prof. Kumar explicitly urged the Medical Council of India and other Governmental institutions responsible for medical education. He categorically recommends inclusion of genetics and genomics in the undergraduate curriculum (MBBS) and also in other postgraduate medical courses.