SCTIMST Scientist working on chronic disease epidemiology and complex public health interventions wins Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize

New Delhi : Dr. Jeemon Panniyammakal, currently positioned as an Assistant Professor in the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, is one of the 11 recipients of the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology (2021) for his exemplary research work and research leadership in India in the field of chronic disease epidemiology, complex public health interventions and quality improvement initiatives.

Dr. Jeemon’s contributions to the task-sharing model for management of hypertension and diabetes in community settings have been widely appreciated in the academic community and policymakers in the low and middle-income countries. Two important research papers based on this work has been published recently in the Lancet Global Health journal. He contributed novel models of primary care for management of cardiovascular risk in community, worksite settings and in high-risk families. By focusing on prevention and control in India he has helped advance cardiovascular science in low and middle-income countries.

In his research career spanning over 15 years at the national level in India, he has gained research expertise in different study designs in the prevention and control of cardiovascular disease conditions. He was involved in clinical trials, bedside-to-population type translational trials, evaluation of complex public health interventions and quality improvement initiatives, large scale disease registries, and cross-sectional surveillance studies. With research grants from Wellcome Trust, MRC (UK), NHMRC (Australia), NIH (USA) and World Diabetes Federation he has published high-impact research papers.

With a rigorous randomised controlled trial, his research concluded that the benefits accrued from a novel family-based model could have the capacity to prevent a substantial number of deaths from coronary heart disease in India. His recent work based on the family-based model has been published as an original paper in the Lancet Global Health Journal.

The worksite-based model for prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease that he is leading has been recognized as a model to emulate in low and middle-income countries by international organisations like the World Heart Federation. It is an important project, especially in the period of the COVID pandemic, to manage cardiovascular and diabetes risk in the organized work sector in India. Other countries in the low and middle-income regions may be able to replicate this model as it is highly relevant to their settings in the time of COVID pandemic.

Dr. Jeemon hails from Nilambur, Kerala, and focused on cardiovascular epidemiology immediately after his post-graduate training in Public Health. He further refined his research skills while working with eminent cardiologists like Prof. K Srinath Reddy and Prof. D Prabhakaran, formerly associated with Department of Cardiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. He was awarded a career development fellowship (2013-2014), intermediate career fellowship (2015-2021) and recently the prestigious and highly competitive Senior fellowship (2021-2026) from the Wellcome -DBT India Alliance. These fellowships helped him to establish an independent research career in cardiovascular disease epidemiology with a focus on preventive cardiology. With more than 130 publications in his name, he built research collaborations with multiple global institutions of excellence.