Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies announced a grant of ₹100 Crores to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) to set up the ‘Centre for Brain and Mind’. The Centre will further cutting-edge research to understand the causes, correlates, and course of five major illnesses – schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dementia, and addiction, and explore potential interventions and treatments for them.
Under this MoU, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies Foundation, will support the activities of the ‘Centre for Brain and Mind’ (CBM) for five years starting April 2023. Over five years, CBM will simultaneously pursue two tracks – long-term research and building capacity for both research and practice in the mental health field.
Approximately 193 million people in India suffer from various forms of mental illness, and there is a need to find better ways of diagnosis and clinical management for many of these disorders. This multidisciplinary, inter-institutional partnership between NIMHANS and NCBS (with inStem) will contribute greatly to the broader field of mental health.
Commenting on the grant, Rohini Nilekani, Chairperson, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, said: “Mental health is an area that demands more attention and support. The recent pandemic brought out this need even more starkly. Through this grant, I hope that a collaboration between two apex institutions of this country will provide globally relevant insights, evidence and pathways for better treatment for millions of people in India and the world.”
Since 2016, NIMHANS, along with NCBS and inStem, have been collaborating on a project (then supported by the Department of Biotechnology and Pratiksha Trust), to build a research platform for facilitating discovery of better solutions for mental illness. The research platform is now ready to drive discovery in this area and will be housed at the Centre for Brain and Mind, which will be co-located at NCBS and NIMHANS.
This new grant will strengthen the existing practices, allow the database and repository to become open source, and reach its potential of maximum utilisation by scientists all over the world. The capacity-building component of CBMs work will entail better methods of public engagement, as the Centre will do public facing interventions around severe mental illness to reduce stigma and enhance awareness. It will also devise actionable measures to address causes that lead to vulnerability in developing mental illness or ameliorate the progression of disease in those who have developed an illness. By developing a core group of clinician researchers and basic scientists skilled in critical technologies and novel methods, the Centre will also establish a pipeline of younger researchers to carry forward this long-term enquiry.