India’s well known virologist Dr Gagandeep Kang, who has been a lodestar to many on how to desist from divinations and depend on data to handle challenges in healthcare will soon be taking up a global role while also staying rooted to what works best for India. Financial Express Online learns quite reliably that the good professor at the Christian Medical College , Vellore, will be joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While she is not available for a comment, we learn that she will join as a director, global health with focus on enteric diseases (gastrointestinal) and diarrheal (diarrhoeal) infections. These have been a bane for many countries in Africa and South Asia, including India. She will be reporting to Trevor Mundel, president, Global Health at the foundation.
Mundel leads the foundation’s efforts at developing high-impact interventions against the leading causes of death and disability in developing countries. He manages the foundation’s disease-specific R&D investments in HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia, Enteric enteric and diarrhoeal diseases apart from neglected tropical diseases.
Given that Dr Gagandeep Kang, 60, is superannuating from CMC, Vellore, and is currently also on several important committees, she may probably want to take her time to conclude the commitments she has already made and stay connected with CMC, an institution with which she has developed a close bond.
So, the transition in her role may take a few months. There is still no clarity on this as also on the time she might have to divide between India and the US. Regarded as a highly meticulous person by most of her friends, she may want to avoid any conflict of interest given the various hats she wears at the moment through her role in the several important committees that she is a part of. For instance, Dr Kang is currently on the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) among other committees, including on vaccines.
Dr Kang’s expertise being sought globally is happening at a time when another Indian healthcare expert Dr Soumya Swaminathan, currently the chief scientist at the World Health Organisation (WHO) leaves her role at the WHO and is headed back to India. Dr Swaminathan, daughter of India’s green revolution hero Dr M S Swaminathan, has been the first chief scientist at the WHO. Both she and Dr Kang are also good friends and we still need to see if their mutual bond and interest for India results in any joint endeavours in healthcare for India. Knowing the inclinations of the two, this may well be likely and therefore worth tracking.