J.N.Medical College, Belgaum, Karnataka
Population Council, New York,United States (2008-2011): Tietze Fellow in Reproductive epidemiology and Consultant.
Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (2012-2015),
Public Health Foundation of India, Indian Institute of Public Health,Hyderabad -Bengaluru Campus.
After completion of medical training from J.N.Medical College, Belgaum, I worked as a Junior Resident in the department of Emergency Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi for almost two years. The work experience was very challenging and life changing and served to greatly enhance my clinical and academic skills and self-confidence in dealing with critical situations. I was privileged by the grace of God to get post-graduation in Community Medicine at J.N.Medical College, Belgaum; as I had always wanted maintain a ‘patient-centered focus’ while working with people at a community level and addressing their health-related problems. The subject of Community Medicine covers a large part preventive obstetrics and gynecology and preventive pediatrics. My thesis work was a community based longitudinal study about the incidence of injuries in children less than five years of age in a rural setting. During this period, I also led an independent investigation on the association of consanguineous marriages with pregnancy outcomes among rural south Indian women. It was during this tenure that I developed an interest in the area of Maternal and Child Health, under the esteemed guidance of my mentor-Professor Dr.Vijaya Naik. My goal of research has been to bring about a betterment in the health of women and children by identifying the magnitude of a health problem, the risks associated with its occurrence and strategies to address and overcome such problems.
My senior residency at MAMC,New Delhi exposed me to great deal of field experience and working with patients at a community level during the postings at urban and rural primary health centers in different areas of Delhi. I am very grateful to Prof Dr.Suneela Garg who encouraged me a lot to take up independent research consultancies with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Jansankhya Sthirtha Kosh (National Population Stabilization Fund) in relation to women and child health. Along with pursuing a research interest in maternal and child health, I developed a growing inclination to work in Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs’) as well; wherein I undertook a study on risk factors of Non communicable diseases (NCDs’) in an urban resettlement colony of Delhi, using the WHO STEPS 1 approach.
I was honored to get awarded the Tietze Fellowship in reproductive epidemiology at the Population Council, New York under the mentorship of distinguished scholar in reproductive endocrinology, Dr.Regine Sitruk-Ware. My area of work during this time was focused upon improving the quality of life for women in the reproductive age group by providing them with various contraceptive options for limiting their family size. During this tenure I was also involved in studying the basic pharmacology and metabolic effects of hormonal contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy which stimulated my interest towards clinical endocrinology.
Once back in India, I was given an opportunity to work with Karnataka Health Promotion Trust for three years in the area of Pediatric HIV/AIDS under the expert guidance of Professor Reynold Washington, who motivated me immensely towards public health research and exposure towards working in the field with different stakeholders while giving me a chance to look after my very young children as well during that time thus avoiding a break in my career path.
In the year 2015, just during a time when I was at a seemingly foggy crossroad in my career, joining Public Health Foundation of India’s IIPHH-Bengaluru was an answer to my prayers and I am very much grateful to Professor Srinath Reddy and Professor GVS Murthy Vice president (south) and Director IIPH for giving me a chance for the position as a faculty. It was after joining here that I got inspired to apply for Wellcome Trust DBT India Alliance Fellowship. It was Dr.Giridhar Babu, Additional Professor and also an India Alliance Fellow and collaborator for the present study; who gave me an initial research idea to correlate maternal cortisol in pregnancy with infant development as well as giving helpful inputs and suggestions during the application process. The area of work in the proposed project confirms to my field on interest in maternal and child health and NCDs’. The mental health of a pregnant woman and its consequent impact on foetal well is not given as much of importance as the risk imposed by obstetric complications and medical conditions. Maternal psychological distress is a major public health problem and needs timely detection and intervention to prevent any adverse pregnancy outcome. There is ample evidence from literature that justifies the association of prenatal maternal stress and elevated cortisol with delayed infant motor and cognitive development. Evidence from India that depicts the association of prenatal stress with infant and child development is rather limited. Moreover, these studies have not explored the effect of prenatal stress and maternal cortisol level on the mental and motor development of the offspring.
The Institute is working in partnership with the Government of Karnataka in the area of health system strengthening and translating research findings into public health practice. I am fortunate to be a part of a supportive team of colleagues. Dr.Suresh Shapeti is a constant source of great support and help, especially in relation to working with the Government of Karnataka.
I hope that this study could add to the growing evidence that maternal psychological distress during pregnancy adversely influences growth and development in the offspring and subsequent development of the child. The India Alliance Fellowship will provide me with an opportunity to develop myself as an independent investigator. This fellowship also addresses the imperative need to implement the practice of evidence based public health policy, planning and spending which is vital for a country like India.