All India Institute of Medical Sciences
The George Institute for Global Health, India
My formal training in psychiatry occurred at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, where I got exposed to the problems of mental disorders and its effect on the patient and community while doing my MD. I subsequently worked as a research fellow in the institute for 6 months, prior to joining World Health Organization, Geneva. My responsibility there was to work as the project manager for Project ATLAS, which was a core research activity of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence. The project collected information on mental health resources globally. My role involved extensive networking with leading mental health experts from many countries, as well as data collection, analysis and report writing. Within a year of commencement, data were obtained from more than 180 of the 192 Member States, and I was instrumental in writing two major reports and creating a dedicated website for the project. Data from the project was included inthe World Health Report of 2001and the impact of Project ATLAS in promoting the importance of global mental health has been widely acknowledged. The indicators from the project have already been adopted by some low resource countries.Working at WHO on this project and other related global mental health projects provided me the basic understanding about global mental health and the gaps in knowledge, and the need for further public mental health research, especially in low resource settings.
I then spent another year and half doing clinical work in Australia and India, and used that time to not only think about my overall goal of being in public health research more actively, but also receive more training in that area. To fulfill that objective I completed an MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. My dissertation was a systematic review of the incidence of postnatal depression globally. I then received the prestigious Sommer Scholarship from Johns Hopkins University to undertake PhD research in mental health. My doctoral dissertation used the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Cohort (one of the longest running mental health cohorts in the world) to study the impact of social support and social networks on use of mental health services following exposure to specific life events. This training not only exposed me to rigorous research methodology, but also provided an insight to the many issues that affect mental health services use, a key area of focus of my current project with the WT-DBT Alliance.
I commenced employment at George Institute in April 2010, in the broader area of tackling the burden of non communicable diseases in India. I provide oversight to health services research projects that relate to urban andrural populations across many states, but particularly Andhra Pradesh. These projects primarily involve developing and evaluating innovative health service delivery models and new affordable methods of monitoring population burden of disease. I am a co-investigator for a number of internationally funded projects in the area of non-communicable disorders and these projects provide me a unique opportunity to work in large projects and manage them, understand the issues of conducting health research in rural India, and specifically provide me a platform to integrate my interests in mental health service delivery in India within the existing health facility available there, using the strengths of the institute.
In July 2012, I was additionally appointed as a Senior Research Associate at the George Institute for Global Health, University of Oxford. I plan to use this opportunity to broaden my collaborative network within the UK that will allow me to prioritise and develop mental health research, focusing on wider global relevance.
In summary, my career to date has included clinical work, project work and consultancies with WHO and high quality postgraduate research training. For the past 3 years I have been in a position of research leadership andam now poised to take my own research interests, especially in the area of improving mental health services in low and middle income countries, to a new level. I believe that this will be greatly facilitated by the award of a Wellcome DBT Fellowship which will allow me to explore innovative method of delivering mental health services in rural India.