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AYUSH Ministry modifies EMR Scheme for short-term COVID-19 research

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The move seeks to support short-term research proposals to evaluate the role and impact of AYUSH interventions/medicines in prophylaxis and clinical management of COVID-19

The Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India has issued an office memorandum (OM) announcing a modification in the existing Extramural Research (EMR) Scheme to support short-term research projects that seek to evaluate the impact of AYUSH interventions/ medicines in the prophylaxis and clinical management of COVID-19.

To expedite receipt of proposals from eligible sources, it has also issued a notification along with an application format. The research applicants for this scheme can be hospitals/institutions involved in the management of COVID-19 cases and investigators/researchers involved in the quarantine and/or clinical management of COVID-19 cases.

The proposed research project can only be for a maximum duration of six months. It also requires IEC clearance to be considered for support up to Rs 10.00 lakhs to meet expenditures of engaging AYUSH clinicians, technical manpower, laboratory investigations and related contingencies.

Commenting on the move, Amit Agarwal, Director, Natural Remedies and Member of Working Test Substances by the Task Force- AYUSH said, “The original EMR scheme offers funding/grants up to Rs 70 lakhs. Here the funding has been reduced to Rs 10 lakhs only. The OM assumes that products are ready for clinical evaluation and thus the funding offered is only for short duration projects and only for direct trials in COVID 19 patients. Private sector scientists/industry do not seem to be eligible, however, it is not very clear.”

“Overall, I think that this is a very good move by the Ministry of Ayush. It is likely to bring some AYUSH products quickly into therapy (as preventives). Based on my understanding of botanicals of 30 years, I think that it is difficult to find potent enough antiviral activity from botanicals. But, it is easy to find potent immune stimulants from plants. Ayurveda describes the use of Rasayana, which is the need of the hour for our country in these times.  I wish that the Ministry increases the cap on funding. I think an upper limit of Rs 50 lakh per project would have been more appropriate,” he added.

The applicant needs to follow the given format, should summarise the research proposal in maximum 150 words and indicate overall aims of the research, importance of the objectives and their application in the context of the priority area set out in the application form.  Thus, the information should be self-contained to enable the Ministry to assess the project proposal. Applicants also need to provide relevance and usefulness of the study with particular reference to the concerned AYUSH system, in terms of IPR values, translational value and the utilisation of outcomes of the project.

The last date to submit the applications is May 1, 2020. It should be sent to [email protected]

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