Campus Tenant Hosts India-U.S. Cancer Cooperation Discussion
by Aliyah DeVille
If you ask Anil Srivastava, president of Open Health Systems Laboratory (OHSL), about the future of scientific and medical research, his answer will likely focus on the importance of collaboration and of approaching problems with an international perspective.
Srivastava, whose company is located on the JHU Montgomery County Campus, keeps those two factors in mind in every project he undertakes. They were also some of the motivating factors behind his March 14 event, “India-U.S. Cooperation for Cancer Research: An Indian Perspective,” which focused on the progress of cancer research in India and what the United States and India can do to help each other in this area.
The event, held on campus, began with a keynote presentation by Dr. Rajendra Badwe, Director at Tata Memorial Centre and Hospital in Mumbai, India, and included a question and answer panel discussion with Dr. C.S. Pramesh, Tata Memorial Centre; Dr. Debapriya Dutta, Counselor (Science and Technology), Embassy of India; and Dr. Preetha Rajaraman, National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health.
During Dr. Badwe’s presentation, he expressed the need for better and equal health care standards across India. “Doctors in rural areas should feel like they are giving equally effective treatment as doctors in the city,” he said.
While Dr. Badwe mentioned many areas in which India needs help improving – such as the need for more radiotherapy units and more qualified oncologists to conduct research, administer treatments, and educate others – he also presented many areas in which the country has been successful. For example, he said the cancer rate has not increased, but instead recently flat lined. In addition, cervical cancer rates in the country have declined exponentially despite the country doing little to combat that particular cancer. At the current rate, he added that he would expect to see no more cervical cancer cases within a decade.
The evening also revealed interesting information about the differences in cancer cases between the two countries. Badwe attributed many of these differences to the lifestyle choices of the people in each country. The United States struggles with obesity, daily meat consumption, and reproductive habits that lead to an increase in certain cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon cancers that are less common in India. But gall bladder and naso-pharynx cancers are much more common in India than in the United States.
"More people are going to die of chronic diseases this year in South Asia then the rest of the world,” Srivastava said. “It is incumbent on countries like India to join United States in finding a cure for cancer and in the process learn from more than 40 years of American experience to improve their cancer treatment and research programs"
Both Dr. Badwe’s speech and the comments from the panel reinforced Srivastava's belief in the necessity for collaboration between the two countries. Collaborative research and the sharing of information and technology were stressed again and again as audience members expressed interest in getting more involved with the work going on in India.