A systematic and clear understanding of geographical and ethnic variation in causal factors of disease of high prevalence in India and an in-depth estimation of the interaction between genetics and environmental factors are of paramount importance. There is large gap in India in mounting efforts to understand and estimate these parameters of major relevance to public health. Genetically and culturally homogeneous population isolates are widely acknowledged to hold the key to understanding and dissecting common chronic diseases, that is a prerequisite to the prevention and control of such diseases. India with a relatively large number of genetically unadmixed population groups is a favourable ground for the conduct of genetic epidemiological studies. In addition, family size in India continues to be large and geographical mobility of individuals is still relatively low; both these factors are very useful for providing an in-depth understanding of genetics and epidemiology of common diseases- common not only in India but also in many other global regions. Thus, the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in India will not only cater to medicine and public health in India, but globally as well.
The "Genomics and Global Health Report 2004" has emphasized that genomics- the powerful new wave of health related life sciences energized by human genome project and the knowledge tools it is spawning, is a relatively new field, but has tremendous potential to address health problems in developing countries, if we rise to the challenge. NIBMG aspires to rise to this challenge.
The increase in availability of DNA based tests and demand by patients for genetics information and advice requires that primary health care practitioners will need to become genetically literate. Genomic medicine is already beginning to enter the realms of primary health care through availability of testing for predisposition to certain cancers and carrier screening and diagnostic tests for common recessive disorders such as thalassemia and other hemoglobin disorders; cystic fibrosis etc. NIBMG will promote translation of research findings in genomic medicine.
There is no institution in India devoted explicitly to capacity building in biomedical genomics, and to the conduct of basic, clinical and translational research in biomedical genomics in an interdisciplinary and integrated way. NIBMG will house an interdisciplinary infrastructure that is required for frontier research and applications in biomedical genomics, and for training students and scientists in medical-genetic research, translation and service.