VISION AND MISSION STATEMENT
To offer an external quality assessment program for molecular haematology, which is of highest quality, affordable, and widely applicable.
Based on the vision of our parent organization to be a witness to the healing ministry of Christ, through excellence in education, service, and research, we strive to excel in our diagnostic and technical capacities to support patient care and safety.
This proficiency program is carried out in an independent manner and on a not-for-profit basis.
With the increasing number of laboratories offering services for genetic diagnosis of haematological diseases, we felt the need for an external quality assessment (EQA) program in this area. Very limited EQA programs were available globally, and most of them were out of reach to Indian laboratories because of the high cost. Our EQAS program, “CMC External Quality Assessment Scheme in Haematology- Molecular Genetics Module” thus started its journey with seven laboratories in the year 2005 by the department of haematology, under the guidance of Dr. Alok Srivastava. Initially one or two DNA samples representing few hematological disorders were sent to participating laboratories with brief clinical details. This scheme was offered free of cost until the year 2017.
We have slowly expanded the program to include diagnostic and prognostic molecular tests in haematological malignancies. DNA based assays for MPN, JAK2V617F and NPM1 and FLT3-ITD, prognostic markers of normal karyotype AML were introduced in the year 2014 and 2016, respectively. Qualitative RT-PCR for BCR-ABL1 transcripts in CML and PML-RARA transcripts in APML have been added since 2020. We are hoping to expand it to Fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH), quantitative PCR for BCR-ABL1, and other newer molecular tests in haematology. Steps to accredit this program under NABL have been initiated.
All the schemes are planned and executed by the laboratory faculty of the department of haematology, CMC, Vellore, with vast experience in the molecular diagnostic area and committed to betterment of diagnostic services.
Senior technical and office staff of our department contribute to logistics enabling the smooth functioning of the program.
DEPARTMENT OF HAEMATOLOGY
The Department of Haematology, Christian Medical College, Vellore is one of the first specialized departments in the country which was initiated to cater to the need of people with inherited and acquired haematological disorders. Our department is one of the few centers in the country which provides comprehensive care to patients with haematological diseases, starting from specialized state of the art diagnostic tests to stem cell transplant and cell therapy. A well-equipped molecular lab has enhanced and added value to our clinical services. In accordance with our institution’s vision, seeking to be a witness to the healing ministry of Christ, through excellence in education, service and research, our department has excelled and strives to continually build on in all the three areas.
Disseminating knowledge through various educational courses has been an important part of our department. Our department was one of the few centers to start a super specialization course (D.M) in Haematology in 1999. The haematologists who underwent this intensive training have carried their expertise to different parts of the country enabling haematology patients to receive the best care possible. A two year post graduate fellowship in Clinical Haematology for post M.D students has been initiated recently. In addition, we conduct continuing medical education programs for post graduate students and secondary hospitals every year. Pathology residents specialize in molecular diagnostics through the two- year post-doctoral fellowship in Molecular Haematology where they learn the nuances of molecular diagnosis and can establish/run molecular diagnostic services independently in various regions in India. Laboratory technologists are trained in all aspects of diagnostic techniques in a molecular haematology laboratory via a PG Diploma in Genetic Diagnostic methods (Post B. Sc) to ensure that there is enough technical manpower to molecular laboratories. We have recently been recognized by DBT as a training centre in “Molecular Genetics of Inherited Haematological disorders” for clinicians from government hospitals.
The haematology department is committed to providing holistic care to the patients who seek medical attention at the portals of our institution.
Clinical and laboratory services are offered for benign disorders of which Thalassaemias (alpha and beta thalassaemias) and haemoglobinopathies (Sickle cell disease, HbE, HbD etc) comprise the major segment. The only known curative treatment for thalassaemia major is a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant. The department, a pioneer in the field of diagnosis and management of thalassaemias, is the first to perform bone marrow transplants for thalassaemic patients in India. Pre-natal diagnosis for families with affected thalassaemia/sickle cell disease patients is offered here.
Apart from this, other rare disorders like high affinity haemoglobin, unstable haemoglobin and benign red cell disorders including inherited and acquired are also diagnosed and managed here.
Our department is renowned for the management of bleeding disorders including Haemophilia A and Haemophilia B. Beginning from diagnosis, we offer various clinical services including management of joint damage and prevention. We also provide carrier testing and genetic counselling services.
We are one of the highest-ranking tertiary referral center in this country for patients with leukemia. The challenges of diagnosing, prognosticating, and treating patients diagnosed with leukemia are complex in a predominantly self-paying system as exists in our country. Applying algorithms either for diagnosis, prognostication or treatment as established in a developed country may not be practical in our resource constrained environment. At our center we have constantly strived to redefine the standards keeping in mind the constraints we face but without compromising the care and clinical outcome of our patients.
The Department of Clinical Haematology at Christian Medical College, Vellore runs the country’s largest stem cell transplantation program. The first stem cell transplantation in CMC was done in 1986. Since then, around 2500 allogeneic stem cell transplants and 900 autologous stem cell transplants have been done so far. Haplo-identical stem cell transplants (transplants with donor who is HLA half matched with the patient) are also done in CMC and more than 200 such transplants have been done in this department. Every year around 150 allogeneic and 60 autologous stem cell transplants are done here.
The clinical service is dependent on our molecular laboratory which remains a backbone for medical care by offering appropriate laboratory tests at an affordable cost. Our diagnostic services encompass tests that span the entire range of molecular testing from known genetic variant screening to next generation sequencing. We are accredited by the NABL and successfully conduct an EQAS program for molecular diagnostic laboratories in India.
The department has been actively involved in both basic and translational research in haematological disorders. This was made possible by first establishing comprehensive laboratory services for diagnosis including flowcytometry, cytogenetics and molecular genetic tests through generous funding from Department of Biotechnology, India in the year 1999. As a group we have strived to address the issues cost-effective care with use of appropriate technology to improve the care of our patients and constantly enhance this with relevant translational research. We are actively involved in research in this area, we focus on innovative solutions to problems that are specific to our region and help develop strategies to address them in a cost-effective manner.
Our department has more than 300 publications to its credit and has many Center of excellence grants. Four members of the faculty are recipients of the India Alliance DBT Wellcome grant. Over 20 students have completed their doctoral thesis under the expert guidance of thedepartment faculty and have gone on to establish independent research careers in academia and industry. We are committed as a community of healthcare professionals to making a difference in the lives of our patients through our service and research.