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Blueprint for an Indian nobel laureate in psychiatry.

  • Singh, Ajai R
Published Article
Mens sana monographs
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2015
DOI: 10.4103/0973-1229.153339
PMID: 25838739


There are a number of spoofs and light-hearted writings in blogs, journalistic pieces and book form (even from former Nobel Laureates), which attempt at 'understanding' the secret of getting a Nobel. This is not one of them. It is more pedantic without necessarily being dry. It first analyses the meaning of the concept, 'the greatest benefit of mankind', which is the crux of the Nobel Will and the overarching requirement for a Nobel in Medicine. Further discussion in the paper is divided into 5 parts: (1)General qualities for a Nobel: The need to be really bright is a given; what is necessary is to be sufficiently crazy about a research topic to make it an obsession; be ready to forgo many creature comforts for long stretches of time; and after all this, be ready to accept that the Nobel may never happen, yet continue to do a type of research solely because it is intrinsically worth doing.(2)Nobel in Physiology or Medicine: Here, the key is to do fundamental/basic research to answer persistent, nagging, unanswered questions of medicine which others neglect because they are discomforting. Or, find treatments that change the whole manner a disease has been hitherto treated.(3)Nobel in Psychiatry: There are many Nobels waiting to be won, provided: (a) The branch becomes more precise; (b) Science, quantitative study and biology remain its bedrock; and (c) There is an almost obsessive preoccupation with unravelling the mysteries of the brain. One has to choose wisely where to put in efforts, e.g., fields like fundamental research into the causes of psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorders. Or their definitive treatments. Or, work at the cellular or molecular level of the neuron and brain; or, the glandular or genetic level of the systems connected with psychiatric disorders; or, in brain radio imaging. If other, or allied, fields are chosen, to work with finding quantitative data and attempt to pinpoint their precise biological correlates.(4)Indian Nobel in Medicine: There is first the need to give up the colonial mindset that everything trend-setting in science comes only from the West. As also, for Departmental Heads, to protect and nurture those with research excellence rather than the mediocre and the sycophants. For governments, to set up an autonomous Research Excellence Council to expressly and exclusively cater to promoting research excellence, with a sizeable fund to put this into practice.All these four points are summarised as four rules.(5)Indian Nobel in psychiatry: Practical suggestions are presented in the form of an 11 Point Action Plan based on 1-4 above.

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