Dr Viswanathan Mohan is an internationally renowned Indian diabetologist. He is the Chairman and Chief of Diabetology at Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention and Control and an IDF Center of Education. Dr. Mohan is also President and Director of Madras Diabetes Research Foundation. He worked at the Royal Post Graduate Medical School, London as a Wellcome Research Fellow and as the Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow at the University Of Ulm, West Germany. He has over 700 publications in peer-reviewed journals like Lancet, British Medical Journal, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Diabetic Medicine, Diabetes Research, and Clinical Practice. Dr. Mohan was awarded the Padma Shri (Fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of India) this year. To know more about Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre, visit, http://www.drmohansdiabetes.com/.
On behalf of CureTalk, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Mohan. Dr. Mohan talks about future of diabetes and latest research in the field. Enjoy the interview.
Me: Congratulations on receiving Padma Shri. How did you get interested in Diabetes?
Dr.Mohan: I got interested in Diabetes as a first year medical student in 1971 when I decided to join my father Prof. M.Viswanathan, considered the Father of Diabetology in India. Right from that time, I have been working in the field of diabetes.
Me: Why and when did you decide to have a research center exclusively for diabetes?
Dr. Mohan: Even, when I joined my father in 1971, I had decided to do research on diabetes and we set up our first Diabetes Research Centre at Royapuram in Chennai and I worked with my father for 20 years. Subsequently in 1991, I left my father and started my own centre, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre along with my late wife Dr. Rema. In 1996, we set up the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation an exclusive centre for research on diabetes and its complications, which has now grown to become one of the largest diabetes research centers in Asia.
Me: You have led the Telemedicine based project that has proved to be ‘Model for Rural Diabetes Health Care’ with support from World Diabetes Foundation (WDF), Denmark. Can you tell us a little more about this.
Dr. Mohan: 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas. Unfortunately, diabetes health care is not available in the rural areas and doctors are not willing to move to rural areas. Hence, we developed the concept of telemedicine whereby using a van fitted with a satellite which goes round various villages screening for diabetes and its complications can be done and online consultations can be provided from the city where doctors sit. This is the concept of telemedicine. The World Diabetes Foundation, Denmark, and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) supported the project.
Me: Current research with bariatric surgery shows that it helps those with type 2 diabetes. What is your opinion? (http://trialx.com/curetalk/2012/03/weight-loss-surgery-to-treat-type-2-diabetes-cleveland-clinic-stampede-study/ )
Dr. Mohan: There is increasing evidence that bariatric surgery can help to control some individuals with type 2 diabetes particularly those who are obese. I have limited experience with this, but I am beginning to get convinced more about its efficacy.
Me: Recently, there was lot of press write-ups about diabetes medication, Victoza being asked to be removed from market. Can you comment on this? (http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120419-719580.html)
Dr. Mohan: So far, the bad press reports on Victoza have been based on hype and not based on real facts. A careful review of the literature shows that there are no substantial worries regarding Victoza’s side effects in human beings, although in rodents some adverse effects were reported. However, this is something which we will have to watch carefully as the drug has been in the market only for a few years.
Me: Can you tell our readers about 2 seminal diabetes research that holds promise?
Dr. Mohan: The two seminal diabetes researches that hold promise are stem cell therapy and islet cell transplantation. However both these are very much in the experimental stages and have not reached clinical stage yet.
Me: Diabetes epidemic in the world…what would you advise?
Dr. Mohan: To reduce the diabetes epidemic in the world, we have to identify the high-risk group. These people have central obesity, increased waist and have family history of diabetes. If they are able to reduce their weight by 5-10 kg, prevention of diabetes can be achieved in these individuals.
Me: Can you tell our readers two visionary projects that you are involved with?
Dr. Mohan: One of the visionary projects that we are involved is the rural diabetes project where we are trying to offer accessible, affordable health care to rural Tamil Nadu using telemedicine. The other visionary project that we are involved in is a mega diabetes survey all over India to find out the true prevalence of diabetes and pre-diabetes in India. This study is called as the ICMR-INDIAB Study and Phase 2 and 3 of this study are now in progress.
We thank Dr. Mohan for his valuable insights and his time.
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