Laboratories: BMMRC has a well-established laboratory including facilities for Immunology work viz., Cell-culture lab for antigen-specific T cell assays, Flow cytometry, ELISA and basic molecular techniques such as PCR & RT-PCR. There are four deep-freezers (-80 C), two -20C freezers and one cryo-freezer with liquid nitrogen as a back-up. PBMCs separation and cryo-freezing are done routinely. We also use an in-house assay to detect Latent TB infection.
Iravatham’s Laboratory is an affiliated mycobacteriology laboratory accredited by NABL, where liquid/solid cultures, Gene Expert and LPA are performed. Part of IPAQT, the lab is enrolled in EQA for biochemistry, immunoassay & microbiology and for mycobacterial/TB diagnostics by smear microscopy, culture, differentiation, NAAT and drug-sensitivity. The score for all the tests was 100% in the year 2018.
Hospital: Mahavir Hospital of which BMMRC is a part is a 220-bedded hospital with OP Clinics, in-patient facilities backed by acute and intensive care units.
Tuberculosis Units: The hospital houses a Free TB Clinic, including two DNCs as part of RNTCP. In addition, we have access to at least 10 more DMCs covering about 15 to 20 lakhs population.
The PI (Dr. Vijaya) has more than 100 publications with at least 75 of them related to tuberculosis. Dr. Vijaya proposed and demonstrated a number of scientific and technological advances in the areas of immunology and genetics of mycobacterial diseases. She was always interested and pursued TB vaccine research. Her group was one of the first to report the waning of efficacy of BCG vaccine in children and advocated a booster vaccine for TB. She also reported that only seventy percent of the children were protected due to BCG vaccination. The remaining children had scar failure which was correlated to with low IFN-γ levels and a mutation in the gene that encodes for the cytokine. She identified Antigen 85A as an immunogenic protein with a potential to be used in a new vaccine and its usefulness in In vitro assays as a correlate of protection to assess efficacy of any vaccine. This protein was also shown to be used as treatment response correlate. All her research is well acknowledged with a citation index of 1000 and i-10 index of 33. Identification of biomarkers for latent and active TB (ATB) have been her major achievements. Her research group is working on identifying immune molecules to predict conversion to latent and progression to ATB. Till date, they have identified some Tcell based assays to predict conversion to LTBI at baseline. This is a breakthrough and would surpass all the existing assays and can be used to identify to at risk HHCs. A novel concept on the use of stem cells in restoring the function of nerves in patients with leprosy is presently being funded by ICMR. This is also a first of its kind study and would significantly alter the quality of life of people living with Leprosy.
Dr. Vijaya is an expert member in the Vaccine group, ITRC (Indian TB Research Consortium).
Dr. Vijaya Lakshmi Valluri – Head, Scientist, Immunology Molecular Biology Department, BMMRC
Dr. Valluri endowed PhD under immunogenetics and has got vital experience of 25 years in research area. Dr. Valluri research interests include immunologic and genetic aspects of mycobacterial diseases, tuberculosis and leprosy. Her work involved evaluation of efficacy of the vaccine currently in use, i.e., BCG and investigation of in vitro correlates of protection in the context of these diseases. She received most of the funding from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India. In the early stages of her career she was a recipient of a scheme under the young scientist category and also fellowships with an option to carry out work in other institutions both within and outside India. She could avail the fellowships at a premier institute in the country (AIIMS) and also at Dr. Patrick Brennan’s laboratory at the Colorado State University. At present a project is underway in collaboration with Dr. Vankayalapati under the Indo-US TB VAP, jointly funded by DBT & NIH (USA). In the last six years, studied the role of NK (natural killer) cells, monocytes and T regulatory cells in conferring protection to tuberculosis. She got 103 number of publications which includes six review articles and four of them contributions to books or monographs. #12 fellows awarded PhD under her supervision from Osmania University & JNTU. She is the co-chair of RePORT Consortium (Regional Prospective Observational Research on TB) under the Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme for TB. Attended many national & international conferences and gave invited talks at several meetings. She is honoured as expert member, Vaccine group, ITRC (Indian TB Research Consortium), ICMR, GoI. Scientific Advisory Board Member, 1st World Vaccine Congress, BITS Life Sciences, China. Also, member of 5th Global Forum on TB Vaccines, 2018.
Kamakshi Prudhula Devalraju (M.Tech Biotechnology)
Kamakshi Prudhula is pursuing her PhD in Biotechnology, she works as Research Coordinator at Bhagwan Mahavir Medical Research Centre- BMMRC. Kamakshi Prudhula has over 9 years of experience in HIV and TB immunology. Areas of her interest are biomarkers for progression to active tuberculosis in HIV infected and household contacts of TB patients. She is currently working on NK cells, Monocytes, T cells and associated cytokines in individuals with latent TB to understand their dynamics during progression to Active tuberculosis. She believes that bio markers to predict activation of TB in high risk population would ensure targeted prophylaxis and decrease in TB burden. She has over 10 peer reviewed manuscripts in international journals and cumulative impactor is 40. She received 50000 USD grant from NIH as a young investigator. She participated and presented on various topics in national and international conferences. She is voted for and currently serving as Co-Chair for RePORT India consortium common protocol.
Prudhula will submit her PhD thesis in Biotechnology this month. She was successful in obtaining an USD 50000 independent grant from CRDF/NIH and also travel fellowship from NIH - NIAID (2016). Actively involved in preparation of the Common protocol, she is also the co-chair of Common protocol. She recently published three first author papers on Immunology of Tuberculosis and co-infection with HIV in peer-reviewed journals such as BioMed Central Infectious Diseases, Cytokine & Tuberculosis. She also has other co-author publications in European Journal of Immunology, Journal of Infectious diseases, PLOS One, PLOS Pathogens etc (cumulative impact factor of 40). She has 9 years of experience in immunology of TB and HIV.
Dr. Venkata Sanjeev Kumar Neela (PhD Biochemistry)
Dr. Sanjeev hold PhD in Biochemistry from Osmania University and currently working as Research Associate and Data Manager. Dr. Sanjeev has been fascinated by structural-functional relationship of biomolecules and their contributions to protection in mycobacterial infections. His doctoral work majorly was on monocyte and lymphocyte proteomes in leprosy infected. During his PhD, he developed an in-vitro T-Cell assay as treatment correlates to identify treatment endpoints in leprosy. In addition to that he also determined the effect on certain gene polymorphisms on immune modulation in leprosy, Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV-TB infections. His current interest is identifying the factors responsible for resistance or susceptibility to TB and to understand the underlying mechanisms to identify disease specific markers. Dr. Sanjeev was awarded as Senior Research Fellow from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), GoI 2013-15 (to pursue Ph.D. research work). He also received a small grant award (Grant reference number 000144) for a leprosy project from the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH), London for the year 2013-2014.
Database Manager for BMMRC site for DBT-CRDF funded RePORT India COMMON PROTOCOL project. Dr. Sanjeev has over 10 peer reviewed manuscripts in international journals and cumulative impact factor for manuscripts is 40. He participated and presented on various topics in national and international conferences.
Dr. Sanjeev has a PhD in Biochemistry. He was awarded an independent grant from RSHTM (UK) to work on the role of Vitamin-D and associated immune responses. He has experience in Molecular, proteomic and Immunology techniques (T-cell assays using Mycobacterial antigens). He has published manuscripts on role of vitamin D and its polymorphisms in leprosy (Human Immunology), developed Ag85A based T-Cell assay as treatment correlate for leprosy (International Immunology, Impact factor 5.1) and also contributed significantly in studying immunogenetic aspects of TB, HIV-TB and leprosy which led to articles published in peer reviewed journals (Cumulative Impact factor of 30). He has 8 years’ experience in Immunology of TB and Leprosy. He has received CSIR-SRF fellowship (for pursuing Ph.D), national (ICMR) and International travel grants (RSTMH, UK) to attend conferences. He served as a data manager for LEPRA/BMMRC during phase I.
Dr. Shilpa Rakh, Lab Coordinator
Dr Shilpa Rakh holds a PhD degree in Genetics from Osmania University, Hyderabad. She specialises in immunology research focused on tuberculosis disease susceptibility. She has over 16 years of experience in research and biopharma industry in India and abroad. She is working at Bhagwan Mahavir Medical Research Center as a Laboratory Coordinator looking after the various research programs and as a site sub-coordinator for clinical trials.
Dr. Shilpa has a PhD in Immunogenetics. Her doctoral work involved role of genetic diversity at the MHC loci associated with TB in immunodeficient and immunosuppressed patients. Her recent application for BioCARe to DBT has been short-listed.
Dr. Aparna Sykam, Research Associate-I
Dr. Aparna Sykam have a Ph.D in Biotechnology with a demonstrated experience in Immunology and Molecular Biology of infectious diseases like HIV, TB and Leprosy as evidenced by 6 publications. Her current work at Bhagwan Mahavir Medical Research Centre, Hyderabad, as a Research Associate-I, involves identifying the immunological factors responsible for resistance or susceptibility to TB which would help in understanding the underlying mechanisms and identifying the disease specific markers.
Dr. Aparna, PhD in Biotechnology
She attended the National Operational Research Course-2018, conducted by The Union in collaboration with Central TB Division and National Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases (NITRD) as part of research capacity building of TB program in India and is supported by The Global Fund. She developed a study protocol based on the retrospective data of ongoing projects on socio-demographic and clinical factors and is presently implementing it.
Dr. Lavarti Rupa, Post Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Rupa, Postdoctoral fellow under DST-SERB sanctioned National Postdoctoral fellowship scheme. Currently working on T cell immuno-phenotyping in patients with active tuberculosis against the peptides of novel Rv0679c and Rv0180c antigens. As a doctoral fellow, her research was focused on characterizing Rv0679c and Rv0180c antigens of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in tuberculosis patients, which unites interdisciplinary areas of genetics, immunology and computational biology. Apart from research, Rupa is also actively involved in biosafety management at the laboratory level.
Dr. Chitra Chandrasekhar has a PhD in Immunogenetics. Her doctoral involved TB transmission studies by identifying and mapping TB Hot-spot in an urban slum by integrating GPS and local postman
Mr. Anvesh, M. Tech. works for the common protocol, is conversant with Immunology techniques and is involved in data management
Varalakshmi, M.Sc in Life Sciences works for the common protocol and is conversant with Immunology techniques
Anitha a post-graduate in Statistics, helps in data management and statistical analyses.
Umarani a post-graduate in MBA, helps in administration & HR activities who also expertise in data entry under ICMR funding project and helps in data management of RePORT & its allied projects.
Dr. Md. Ansari, Pulmonary Medicine, heads the Pulmonology Department in Mahavir Hospital. He has been a part of RePORT India consortium and is presently the PI for the HI-Con Rif trial conducted by ICMR
Dr. Sindu Joshi, Internal Medicine is part of the team and is presently the PI for the tuberculosis vaccine trial sponsored by ICMR.
Dr. Vishnu, is part of RePORT India Consortium and is familiar with RNTCP programme as he worked in the state TB Centre.
The management of Mahavir Hospital & Research Centre has been supporting research on TB for more than 30 years. Proposed by Late Dr. KJR Murthy, ‘Mahavir Model for PPM-DOTS’ was not only successful, but gained international fame for its innovation and cost-effectiveness. This was later adopted for implementation in the RNTCP. BMMRC established a Public-Private Mix – DOTS programme in 1995. All the 110 private practitioners in the area were encouraged to refer symptomatic patients to the hospital for sputum examination and DOTS.
The study in the first 6 years was supported by the Department for International Development and sponsored by WHO, Geneva. In 2004, BMRC was chosen by the Indian government to carry out the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Project of Urban DOTS in Hyderabad. The project has been operational since February 1st, 2005. Furthermore, BMMRC is part of the Centre of Excellence for Tuberculosis, supported by DBT titled, “Multidisciplinary approaches aimed at interventions against Mycobacterium tuberculosis”. Late Dr. KJR Murthy was instrumental in establishing these programs, and was honored by former President William J Clinton of the USA, who visited Mahavir Hospital on World TB Day in 2000.
BMMRC is part of the ITRC. Most of the research that goes on in the institute is related to tuberculosis. The management is keen on developing this centre as a centre of excellence for tuberculosis.
List of Ph.D students working & students awarded Ph. Degree.
Dr. S. Aparna – Awarded
Dr. NV Sanjeev Kumar – Awarded
Dr. Praveen Keshav – Awarded
DK Prudhula – Pursuing PhD Biotechnology