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On 23rd May, Verghese Kurien Centre of Excellence, IRMA organized an expert lecture and interactive session with Padma Bhushan Dr Nirmal Kumar Ganguly at Pramukh Swami Medical College, Bhaikaka University. Professor Ganguly is the President of Gut Microbiota and Probiotic Science Foundation of India. He is a former Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research and he is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Minister of Health on COVID-19 as well.

The session titled ‘Role of Gut Microbiota and Probiotics in Health and Disease –Special Emphasis on COVID-19 and What is New?’ was opened by the Provost of the Bhaikaka University, Dr. Utpala Kharod. She stressed on how the research aspect of medical education needs to be highlighted. Carrying that topic into his talk, Prof. Ganguly said how social science and behavioral science needs to be integrated into medical curriculum for a holistic approach towards Public Health. Earlier we had a concept of family physician, which was taking care of integrated health of families and villages, but now in this era, most of the MBBS doctors aim at specialization a nd super-specialization, and forgets the concept of holistic health.

Prof. Ganguly talked about how microbiota imbalances in our bodies can increase severity of COVID-19 and other diseases. During the COVID-19 crisis, a lot of stress was given to building individual and public immunity to battle the novel coronavirus. Prof. Ganguly elaborated that as we grow up, our immune system gets more determined by the microbiomes in our intestines. Our intestines host 500-1000 various types of microbiotic species. These microbes not only help in digestion and metabolism but also conduct various protective and structural functions like producing lactic acid and developing the immune system. Immunity compromising diseases like HIV and COVID-19, particularly attack and imbalance the delicate microflora in our body. That is why it is important to include probiotic foods like probiotic fermented milk, yakult in our diets. The healthy bacteria consumed through such products keep our gut microbiota balance towards health side. A joint report of World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) states the benefits of consuming adequate amounts of live microorganisms through the probiotics in food. Probiotics also bring down inflammation like allergy or diabetic inflammation along with various infections. Ingesting fermented milk containing specific microbiotics was also found to be beneficial to the marathon runners by protecting them from viral and respiratory infections.

Prof. Ganguly ended the talk by giving a glimpse of how science and technology in the future can create designer probiotics that are specifically made according to an individual body’s needs. But it would require further research and clinical trials to successfully make that a reality. He also indicated that probiotic profiles change by region and diet of the people and there is need for creating India specific probiotic research. He appreciated the pioneering work done at SMC College of Dairy Science, AAU, Anand in the area of probiotics.

The session was attended by the faculty and post graduate students of PSMC aprt from officers from AMUL, Vidya Dairy, Dairy Science College and IRMA. The talk generated a lot of interest in conducting and taking forward the probiotic research, particularly into investigating the probiotic and health benefits of milk and milk products. For example, the milk of camels reportedly has properties that will help with fighting diabetes and that needs to be clinically validated.

Dr. J. B. Prajapati, Chairman of VKCoE felicitated Dr Ganguly and presented a Dr Kurien’s autobiography ‘I too had a dream’. The Dean of PSMC, Dr. Himanshu Pandya gave the vote of thanks and Dr Manisha Gohel anchored the entire program.

Dr Ganguly visited the world famous Amul Dairy and chocolate plant.  He was delighted to see the world class facilities that beat the multinational giants in the field. He met Shri Amit Vyas, MD, Amul Dairy and was quite impressed by the type of work Amul does for animal health and rural milk producers.

Press note by VKCOE IRMA Anand

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