ICMR, AIIMS Get New Chiefs — Know About Dr Rajiv Bahl And Dr M Srinivas

Karan Kamble

Sep 27, 2022, 03:03 PM | Updated 04:13 PM IST

Dr M Srinivas (Director, AIIMS) and Drs Rajiv Bahl (Director General, ICMR)
Dr M Srinivas (Director, AIIMS) and Drs Rajiv Bahl (Director General, ICMR)
  • Drs Rajiv Bahl and M Srinivas are the new heads of ICMR and AIIMS respectively.
  • Here's a brief look at the life and work of a long-time WHO researcher and an inspirational doctor and dean.
  • Key appointments were made recently to the top posts of India’s two premier medical institutions based in the national capital.

    Dr Rajiv Bahl was appointed director-general (DG) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Dr M Srinivas took over as director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

    Dr Bahl, who has been assigned the role for a period of three years, was additionally appointed Secretary to the Department of Health Research.

    One of the oldest medical research bodies in the world, ICMR is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination, and promotion of biomedical research.

    AIIMS, on the other hand, is a national centre of excellence in medical education, research, and patient care.

    Dr Rajiv Bahl

    Dr Bahl works with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing. He is the head of the Newborn Health Unit.

    The new ICMR DG trained as a paediatrician in Delhi. 

    He got his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University College of Medical Sciences. It was followed by a Doctor of Medicine degree in Paediatrics from Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College. While there, he worked as a senior resident paediatrician in 1993.

    His next 10 years were spent at AIIMS. Dr Bahl got a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in public health in 1999. Thereafter, he worked as an epidemiology scientist in the Department of Paediatrics until 2003.

    After a brief stint with WHO India in 2002, he joined WHO Geneva as a Medical Officer in the Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development the next year. Over the next decade, he homed in on the area of newborn health, eventually leading the unit specialising in the area.

    Dr Rajiv Bahl
    Dr Rajiv Bahl

    He now takes over as ICMR DG from Dr Balram Bhargava.

    Dr Bhargava held the top post since April 2018 and was a familiar face during India’s Covid-19 response. His tenure, including a three months extension, had ended on 15 July.

    "Dr Rajiv Bahl was my close colleague at WHO. He’s one of the most brilliant and dynamic medical researchers I have known. Indian medical research is in safe hands," prominent paediatrician Anthony Costello said in a tweet.

    Dr M Srinivas

    The dean of Hyderabad-based ESIC Hospital and Medical College replaces Dr Randeep Guleria as the Director of AIIMS, New Delhi.

    Dr Guleria, Professor of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, was at the helm from March 2017 and received two extensions of three months each until Dr M Srinivas took over.

    The latter has been given the role for a period of five years. Interestingly, he had reportedly not applied for the AIIMS top job.

    Dr Srinivas hails from Yadgir district in Karnataka. He completed his schooling there, in Kannada medium, before going on to study at the Vijayanagar Institute of Medical Sciences and obtaining his MBBS degree. He got himself a couple more Master’s degrees, including one at AIIMS.

    Dr Srinivas joined AIIMS in 1994, around the same time as Dr Bahl. After many years of service, he became Professor of Paediatric Surgery in 2011. Five years later, he joined ESIC Hospital and Medical College, Hyderabad, on deputation.

    Dr M Srinivas (second person from the left)
    Dr M Srinivas (second person from the left)

    The ESIC hospital in Hyderabad had found it hard to get off the ground. In a 2017 interview, Dr Srinivas revealed that the medical college was “lying locked for four years (roughly),” during and after which it faced several rejections from the Medical Council of India.

    This led him to be brought on deputation from AIIMS. “We could get, through his (Bandaru Dattatreya’s) efforts and our hard work, the Medical Council of India’s permission for 100 MBBS students and we have enrolled 100 MBBS students,” Dr Srinivas said.

    He helped the ESIC Hospital to get the NABH accreditation (NABH is short for ‘National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers’).

    The medical college and hospital, and Dr Srinivas especially, has ever since been recognised for the inspiring turnaround.

    As part of his overall administrative experience, he is said to have been involved in starting and developing many new medical colleges, which includes initiating postgraduate and super specialty courses for students at these institutes.

    The new AIIMS chief is the author of around 200 research papers and is said to have trained thousands of undergraduate and postgraduate medical students. He holds memberships and fellowships to 15 professional organisations.

    Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.

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