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IAV’s first phase becomes operational at Thonnakkal

Virology institute a potent weapon against epidemics: CM

The Institute of Advanced Virology (IAV) in the district will evolve into a global centre for high-end virology research and help Kerala scale greater heights in its efforts to improve public health and contain virus outbreaks, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.

The first phase of IAV, situated at the Bio 360 Life Science Park at Thonnakkal, became functional with two divisions on Thursday. Dedicating the facility to the State at an online function, the Chief Minister said it was heartening to note that IAV has become functional at a time when Kerala is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Institutes such as the IAV will enable high-end medical research and give more teeth to the State’s efforts to tackle epidemics, Mr. Vijayan said. The constant interaction of Keralites with people of other States and nationalities also means that it is easier for epidemics to find their way into the State.

A robust public health system has helped Kerala effectively check the Nipah virus outbreak of 2018 and fight the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, such a system alone will not help the State tackle lifestyle diseases or epidemics. Institutes such as the IAV gain relevance in this context, according to him.

In 2017

The State government took the decision to establish a high-end research facility in virology in 2017. According to the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), the IAV “is envisioned as an institute of global standards networking Global Virology Institutes with most modern laboratories focusing on research, diagnosis and management of emerging and re-emerging infectious viral diseases.”

The Phase 1 A building of the IAV was inaugurated in February 2019. On Thursday, the divisions on clinical virology and viral diagnostics became operational in a 25,000 sq ft pre-fab building. Once fully functional, the IAV will have eight scientific divisions on multiple aspects of virology research and occupy an 80,000 sq ft building at the park.

Director

Akhil C. Banerjee has taken charge as IAV director, and Mohanan Valiyaveetil, as the Senior Principal Scientist.

The Chief Minister said the IAV would work closely with national-level institutions such as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).

Now functioning under the KSCSTE, the IAV will gain the status of an autonomous institution once it is fully functional, according to the government.

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