The 2017 Kochon Prize was awarded to the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR) for building a tradition of excellence in TB research and development.
According to an official source, ‘The $65,000 Prize is awarded annually by Stop TB Partnership to individuals and/or organizations that have made a significant contribution to combating TB. The ICMR emerged the winner from amongst 18 nominations. The 2017 Kochon Prize is specifically about contributions to TB research. Since ICMR and several of its research groups — NIRT, JALMA and India TB Research Consortium — are engaged in TB research, and some of them for a very long time, it made sense to nominate ICMR for this Prize this year.
Appreciating the efforts of ICMR, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General at the World Health Organisation said, ‘ICMR deserves the recognition. TB research itself needs recognition. We can’t end TB without research’. It should be noted that she is a TB researcher and former Director of NIRT before becoming the Director-General of ICMR.
She added, ‘Since its inception in 1956, Chennai’s National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) [which was formerly known as the Tuberculosis Chemotherapy Centre and later as Tuberculosis Research Centre (TRC)] has undertaken several trials that had had impact internationally’.
TRC started with the landmark Madras Classic trial 1956 to compare the outcomes of domiciliary chemotherapy with treatment in sanatorium. The first of its kind trial showed that the cure rate was the same when treatment was offered at home and in sanatorium. The BCG vaccine trial by TRC, the largest ever to be conducted, followed-up 350,000 volunteers for 15 years. “The trial was conducted to the highest standards. Such a large trial has never been replicated anywhere else,” says Dr. Swaminathan.