Dr. Priya Abraham

The first two SARS-CoV2 genome sequences from India shared with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) on 5th March were from Indian Council of Medical Research’s Pune-based National Institute of Virology (ICMR-NIV). In the report in Indian Journal of Medical Research the authors noted that the information will be feed into the designing of vaccines and diagnostics. This information would also be a critical point as genomic surveillance of COVID-19 cases in the country instrumental in monitoring the evolution of the virus as it spreads in different populations of India. The scientist at the centre of this critical juncture of genomic studies of SARS-CoV2 in India is Dr. Priya Abraham, Director, ICMR-NIV. She is supported by Dr. Varsha Potdar and others from the institute. Dr. Potdar works to understand the molecular basis of influenza and other respiratory illnesses; which explains her involvement in this project. NIV was also the only institute in the early stages of the pandemic designated by ICMR to work on COVID-19 samples. Further delineation of the information carried by genome sequences will have implications for epidemiology (studying causative factors, genetic and environment, of a disease), diagnostics and vaccines in India.