History of the Department

Updated On : 11-11-2016

Postgraduate Institute of Medical education and Research (PGIMER) was formally inaugurated on 7th July, 1963 by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Prime Minister of India. Microbiology laboratory facility started with one room laboratory in Food laboratory, Sector 11. With the development of the Institute, the department of Microbiology was established in the 1st and 2nd floor of Research Block A in 1964. The first batch of three candidates, Dr SR Pal, Dr RC Mahajan and Dr Bimla Paul qualified for MD (Microbiology) in 1967 and the degrees were awarded by Panjab University, Chandigarh. By 1967, the Institute became autonomous by Act of Parliament and Residency Program was established. Best students were chosen for MD and PhD degrees through all India competition. The department was very popular and candidates joined from different corners of the country to get training in post-graduate courses. With the progress and development of the discipline, the division of parasitology and virology were upgraded as separate department in June, 1978. Though Microbiology comprised of three independent departments - Medical Microbiology, Parasitology and Virology, the students rotated in all three departments during their post-graduate training. Currently, the department of Medical Microbiology has Bacteriology, Mycology and Bacterial Serology sections on the second floor (level) of Research Block A. The advance research laboratories of Mycology section are situated on the sixth floor. The departments of Parasitology and Virology are situated on the first and sixth floors respectively. 

Automation and minimising turnaround time is the motto of the department. Many conventional technologies have been replaced over time with automated state-of-art techniques. Automated media preparator, in use for more than two decades provides contamination-free optimised media with precise thickness, a prerequisite for disc diffusion susceptibility tests. Automated rapid blood and body fluid culture for bacteria and fungi have been introduced nearly a decade back. Automated culture for tuberculosis is in use for more than five years. For the last three years, routine identification of clinical isolates has been based on MALDI-TOF MS, allowing accurate identification of even the rarest and most difficult-to-identify pathogens within minutes. Direct identification of pathogens from flagged automated culture systems allows us to offer positive report at species level in 8-12 hours. Nephelometric serological tests, sequence-based identification of fungal pathogens, molecular identification of pathogenic diarrheal pathogens and the full spectrum of latest molecular diagnostic tests for tuberculosis are other facilities offered by the department. The Mycology section of the department of Medical Microbiology got the distinction of being a 'WHO Collaborating Centre for research and reference on fungi of medical importance', ‘Centre for Advance Research in Medical Mycology’ and ‘National Culture Collection of Pathogenic Fungi’ in 2008. This allowed the Mycology division to undertake collaborative research in the field of fungal diseases by developing a network with South-East Asian laboratories, provide referral services and collect medically significant fungi and supply them to scientists on request. Progress in other sections got the distinction of national reference laboratories in the field of ‘tuberculosis’, ‘sexual-transmitted diseases’ and ‘antimicrobial resistance’. On 14th Feb, 2014, the Department of Medical Microbiology was accorded accreditation by NABL with 26 scopes, making it the country’s first and biggest public sector lab to be granted this certification. All the tests carried out in the department are accredited. The same year the department received the FICCI Healthcare Excellence Award in laboratories.

The department has been actively involved in undergraduate (BSc and MSc in MLT, BSc and MSc in Nursing) and postgraduate (MD) teaching. Postgraduate course in microbiology in this department is the most sought after course in the country. More than 140 students have completed MD degree from this department and they are settled in reputed positions in the country and abroad. The Faculty of the department have been actively pursuing transforming the postgraduate curriculum to meet the needs of the day taking the microbiologist from the confines of the petri dish to the bed side of the patient. OSCE based examination system has already been introduced. Plans are on for replacing the didactic teaching to a problem oriented one that kindles the flame of active thinking and innovation.