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‘The true driver for positive, pedagogic change is technology’

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Mayur Yergeri, Principal & Professor Dept of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Dr Bhanuben Nanavati College of Pharmacy, which has just completed a decade, talks about his institution, pharmacy education, challenges to be tackled in this field and more, in an interaction with Usha Sharma

The BNCP has recently completed its 10th year of services. What were the key milestones?

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Mayur Yergeri

Hitting the 10-year mark gives the feeling of having achieved a milestone. It is time when you look back and recall the achievements, challenges, triumphs and trials that one encountered in this period. Many lessons were learnt, and new strategies have been worked out for outperforming in the next decade.

BNCP was incorporated in 2004 under the umbrella of SVKM in Mumbai. The first milestone was achieved in 2012, when the institute got the permission to commence M Pharm in Quality Assurance and Pharmaceutics. Thereafter, looking at the industry requirement in the pharmacology segment, in the year 2013, M Pharm was introduced in pharmacology. Today, we have these courses run in full batches.

Our commitment to excellence has been rewarded suitably, we are the recipient of the best college award in Maharashtra State by Rx, a coveted yearly festival organised by Indian Pharmaceutical Association for three consecutive years.

In 2014, our institute secured 98 per cent in the annual University of Mumbai B Pharm examination. One of our student was ranked third in the 2014 University examination, which is testimony of our commitment to excellence in education.

A fitting tribute on the completion of our 10 years was when we got selected among the top five institutes across India by AICTE-CII, for their 2014 annual awards in the pharmacy sector.

Today, we can somewhat proudly state that BNCP is a name synonymous with excellence in pharmacy education. We are also proud that BNCP runs on SAP and thanks to our management, SVKM.

Recently, BNCP has been ranked fourth on all-India basis by AICTE- CII survey. What do you have to say on this achievement?

AICTE–CII, with the aim of fostering industry academia linkages, as well as promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among students, has since 2012 introduced the AICTE-CII annual awards. High level of parameters are set for judging technical institutes. The yardstick comprise certain critical areas like governance, placements, faculties, infrastructure etc., all of which are vital performance areas for an institute. In the kaleidoscope of these parameters, we were able to outperform in most of them and secure the fourth rank at an all-India level.

When seen in the backdrop that we are a decade old and we were competing with institutes that were mostly more established and older than us makes the award more significant.

BNCP has published research papers in international journals. Elaborate more on this.

Research and publications are two vital areas for pharmacy institutes as they play a role of providing education to develop effective drugs for the society. The institute has to consistently keep upgrading and excelling in these areas.

Among the faculty, I have more than 30 publications in reputed international journals with high impact factor. Recently, a research article titled “Nanodrug delivery in reversing multidrug resistance in cancer cells” was published jointly with my colleague Dr Sonali Kapse, in Frontiers in Pharmacology (Anti-cancer Drugs), published by the prestigious Nature Group. The publishers were kind enough to waive off the publications charges of Rs 1,30,000/- and the total number of views- have been around 3500– highest from US.

Our other faculty members like Dr Amrita Bajaj has many publications to her credit and co-authored some books too. Dr Lokesh Bhatt has also been publishing articles in reputed journals. The management provides suitable rewards for the same

Tell us about the research work conducted by your team?

In the field of research, I have been carrying out high-end research on multi-drug resistance in cancer cells. Besides, Dr Bajaj has been doing research on novel drug delivery which attracts many projects from the industry. Other faculty members like Nishad Kadri and Pravin Kale have also been doing some good research work.

An institute has to provide an environment that stimulates and fosters research activities besides providing the required infrastructure. In addition to more than 12 laboratories, a state-of-the-art pilot plant laboratory is designed to scale up studies on developed dosage forms as a centralised facility. This facility imparts hands-on experience on working of equipment like Pam Glatt Fluid Bed Processor, Rapid Mixer Granulator, 12 station Multi-tooling Compression Machine, Coating Pans, Extruder Spheronizer, Capsule Filling Machine, The Kalweka System and Stability Cabinets. BNCP has really world-class infrastructure.

Year
Course
Semester
College
University
2013-14
B. Pharm. IV year
Sem VIII
96.92
72.48
Sem VII
86.15
55.83
2012-13
B. Pharm. IV year
Sem VIII
89.55
68.02
Sem VII
82.61
60.00
2011-12
B. Pharm. IV year
Sem VIII
89.33
62.71
Sem VII
84.75
58.58

The institute has manged to get funding from DST, ICMR and DBT. How do you plan to utilise these grants?

We have been able to attract grants and funds from coveted organisations like DST, ICMR and DBT. I have been selected for the prestigious “Young Scientist” award by DST from which we have established a cell culture lab. Funds amounting to Rs 23,00,000 was sanctioned and has been partly utilised for setting up a cancer research laboratory, the project is presently going on. DST has funded travel grants to our faculty members like Dr Lokesh Bhatt and Dr Pravin Kale for visits to US. ICMR selected five scientists from all over the country for Foreign Travel Fellowship and BNCP is one the institutes selected. I feel proud of the kind of research being carried out in BNCP.

Overall, I have got three travel grants and research grants from ICMR, UGC, SERB, Mumbai University and DST. Dr Bajaj has got five patents products out of which three are filed.

There has been a gap between the industry and academia. What are your suggestions to fill this gap. What steps need to be taken?

I would like to state that the gap between the industry and academia is due to lack of trust in revealing their project information and details till their product is launched in the market. I firmly believe that if the institute, CROs and industry work jointly then this paradigm will not only be cost effective for the industry but also resulting scientific information exchange. If industries come to academic institutes not only will they get the value for their money and also they can cut costs.

Would you like to comment on the ‘Train the teachers programme’, an initiative run by Pharmacy Council of India (PCI)?

Presently, the pharmacy sector is witnessing radical changes. Hence, PCI has to play an important role in this area. For example, today there is lack of good teachers in pharmaceutical chemistry. Hence, students are deterred from taking admission in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. I feel PCI should focus on this issue so that chemistry could be well understood by the student fraternity.

Besides, this I would like to state that amidst the current technological changes there is a growing gap in the teaching practice and learning practice. The gap is becoming acute and growing since the student fraternity is adapting to these technologies faster than the teaching fraternity. Technological innovations in the last 10 years, like Search, links, media sharing, social media, Wikipedia, games, open source, MOOCs, You Tube, Ted Talk, Google Plus have changed the way we learn. Unfortunately, they’re not matched by the way we teach. The true driver for positive, pedagogic change is technology.

The PCI notification mandating specific rules and regulations with regard to the qualifications for teachers in pharmacy institutions is the best that could have happened when pharmacy education is on a transformation mode, stated a section of principals of pharmacy colleges. What is your say on this?

Yes, PCI has framed the guidelines. As per the rules, a teacher should have B Pharm degree and should be registered as a pharmacist before becoming a teacher. The rules also clearly state that the qualifications required to attain higher positions. I, as the Principal, am very happy with the framing of guidelines.

How long you have been associated with the Dr Bhanuben Nanavati College of Pharmacy and what major major roles you have played

I joined Dr BNCP in 2011 as a Professor. In a span of three months, I was made the I/c Principal and then in 2012 I became the Principal.

Since, I have taken the Principal’s post, M Pharm has been introduced with three specialisations i.e. Quality Assurance, Pharmaceutics and Pharmacology. The college results have been consistently good. The quality of students taking admissions have improved. In 2013, 20 GPAT students and in 2014 GPAT, 18 students took admission for PG course in BNCP. Presently, around 50 per cent of our students, after completing B Pharm, go abroad for further education and secure admission in reputed universities. Two international collaborations were signed with University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), South Africa and Innoworks Inc, Canada for collaborative research. Around 85 per cent of our faculty members are Ph.D qualified or pursuing Ph.D.

You have been the recipient of the ICMR Young Scientist 2013 and DST Young Scientist 2010 awards, could you please elaborate more on the same?

I have been fortunate to get awarded by such prestigious government agencies. These agencies have also encouraged and appreciated good research work. I believe that there not many scientists working presently in my area of research i.e. on cancer has worked in my favour.

I feel that Multidrug Drug Resistant (MDR) have a great future as these are not only for cancer disease but also for tuberculosis a malaria and other severe diseases. So a lot of work needs to be done in this area.

Being a principal of a reputed institute, what message would you like to give?

I would like to state that the Indian education system is changing and hence an overhaul is the need of the hour. I feel that systems should be simplified. We simply need one authority to whom we should be reporting. Especially, technical institutes should be given some boosters for enabling them to became a part of the global knowledge.

Today, Indians are making a mark at the global level. Today, a 37-year-old Indian, Dr Vivek Murthy has been confirmed as the Surgeon General of America by the US Senate. Rakesh Khurana is the new Dean of Harvard College, arguably the most prestigious school in the US. The CEO of Microsoft is an Indian, Satya Nadella. Web service, Hotmail, was founded by an Indian technology talent, Sabeer Bhatia who emigrated to the US. The list goes on and on. This shows that impeccable credentials cannot be kept down for too long. The world is waiting with open arms for those who dare to dream big and make those dreams a reality

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