Converting a Dream into a Reality: Dinesh Badyal Discusses the Unexpected Outcomes of his Fellow Innovation Project
Dinesh Badyal, M.D.
Professor and Head
Department of Pharmacology
Christian Medical College
I have been associated with the CMCL-FAIMER Regional Institute (CMCL-FRI) right from its inception―I am a CMCL-FRI 2007 Fellow. One of the requirements for the fellowship is completion of an innovation project, and I did my project on “Implementation of Computer Simulation Models (CSM) as Replacement of Animal Experiments in Teaching Undergraduate Pharmacology.”
As all Fellows do, I worked on my project thinking of it as a one-year assignment to go along with the fellowship. Then I started the first residential session in January 2007 in Ludhiana, India. During the program evaluation and project discussion sessions, I came to know that I needed to think about the bigger picture for my project. I was told to develop intermediate and long-term outcomes at that time. I had never thought of that when I planned my project. I was a bit confused and worried about how I could make a difference with my project. However, the words of faculty members about how the project will benefit the community had a big impact on me. I started thinking about the usefulness of the project to others, expanding it, and making a big difference.
The next year I worked on my project and completed it successfully with few hassles. I got very good insights about my project when I started it at my institute. I read a lot of information related to simulation, simulation in teaching, etc. I thought of modifying the curriculum of pharmacology practical exams, including using simulation to replace animal experiments. In the process, I wrote my first book, Practical Manual of Pharmacology, published by Jaypee Brothers, the leading medical book publisher of India. The book was released in April 2008 during a workshop on medical education sponsored by the Medical Council of India (MCI). An MCI representative released my book. This was one of the outcomes of my project.
The book has become very successful and the publisher has asked to print a second edition to coincide with the new curriculum for medical undergraduate courses from MCI in 2010. This curriculum mentions that simulation should be used to replace animal experiments. This is exactly what I had written in the introduction to my project.
I presented my project during the second residential session of CMCL-FRI in January 2008, and then went ahead and expanded it. I completely replaced animal experiments in undergraduate pharmacology teaching during the next year (2008), and animal mortality was reduced to zero. I then presented a paper on the expanded project at the 6th Asia Pacific Medical Education Conference at the National University of Singapore, Singapore, in February 2009. I interacted with other international medical educationists there and acquired more knowledge about research in medical education. I went deeper into scholarship and published the extended project as full paper, “Computer simulation models are implementable as replacements for animal experiments,” in the international journal ATLA (Alternatives to Lab Animals), indexed in index medicus. The paper was highly appreciated, and I still keep getting requests from around the world for PDF copies.
While I was writing the paper, I came to know that most of the teachers in pharmacology are not aware of alternatives to animal experimentation, which are available freely or at a negligible cost in India. I planned to conduct a Continuing Medical Education (CME) program to make other teachers aware of these alternatives. I extended it to other subjects where alternatives are needed (one of the intermediate outcomes of my project). I chose physiology, as this is the other subject where alternatives to animals are needed. I struggled hard to find a physiologist, as well as alternatives that are available in India. I contacted a lot of physiology faculty in India. After two months of searching, I found the appropriate resources. I needed funds for the CME program, because I planned to call on pioneers in simulation in India in pharmacology and physiology. I contacted them; they happily agreed. Somehow my personal growth during the fellowship period helped me to project myself as a good pharmacologist and medical educationist, and I was elected as the Editor of The Clinical Researcher, the official publication of the Clinical Research Board.
I conducted two big events at my institute: a CME program on depression and a three-day “Workshop on Clinical Research,” sponsored by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Just two months after that I was invited as a guest speaker at an international conference by the University of Hong Kong. After that I was a guest speaker with Dr. K. Satyanarayana, Editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) (the only Indian journal with an impact factor of 1.883), to conduct a workshop on writing scientific papers at the National Conference on Health Professionals’ Education in Pune.
These developments helped me a lot, and with each development, CMCL-FRI was somehow involved. I got a lot of support from FAIMER Fellows. A number of Fellows belong to my specialty, pharmacology, so we got together to improve our specialty at a national level.
I wrote to MCI in July 2009 to ask them to sponsor a CME program. They agreed and we successfully conducted “Alternatives to Animals in Medical Education” in February 2010. The CME was attended by 150 delegates from all over India. Some of them (including one of the top medical collge in Delhi) have now written me that they have started using simulation models. This was another of my project’s intermediate outcomes.
In October 2009, I attended the FAIMER Institute in Philadelphia in the United States. On International Medical Education (IME) Day, I met an administrator from a National body in India, who encouraged me and, in principle, agreed to sponsor my expanded project on “Simulation Lab to Replace Animals” (my project’s long-term outcome). The suggestion was made to develop such a lab to cater to basic and paraclinical sciences, and then replicate it at other colleges.
When I started writing my project in 2006, I never thought of all the possible outcomes. Now in 2010 (five years down the line) I am planning to start the long-term outcomes. A bigger dream became reality. My wife says, “You Pisceans dream a lot,” and I tell her I do this so that I can convert them into realities. I thank all medical educationists; FAIMER, in particular FAIMER Fellows and CMCL-FRI; MCI; ICMR; and my mentors for their constant support and encouragement.