Dr. Prabhakaran is Vice President (Research and Policy) and Director, Centre for Control of Chronic Conditions at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

Visiting professor’s research aims to reduce cardiovascular disease

February 03, 2020

By Clement Woo

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally. Visiting professor Dr. Prabhakaran Dorairaj wants to find out how we can reduce death and disability due to heart diseases through new innovations.

Dr. Prabhakaran, Vice President (Research and Policy) and Director, Centre for Control of Chronic Conditions at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), is currently visiting the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) on a Visiting Professor appointment made possible through SFU’s Hari and Madhu Varshney Visiting Scholars Program in Indian Studies.

“During my visit, I am looking forward to meeting experts from various fields and discuss potential solutions in reducing chronic disease burden both in India and BC,” he says. “While there are differences, there are also many similarities between the two contexts and I am here to learn best practices that may be applicable in India. I am also looking forward to interacting with local experts who have Indian backgrounds to discuss the development of programs that may have bidirectional benefits.”

Last January, Dean Tania Bubela visited PHFI and met with Dr. Prabhakaran in Delhi. During this meeting, the partnership between PHFI and FHS was renewed via a signed memorandum of understanding. This new agreement will lead to new opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate internationally.

While at SFU, Dr. Prabhakaran will be working closely with FHS professor Scott Lear, whose work on innovative technologies complements PHFI’s wealth of experience in digital technologies as applied in health care. By looking at common synergies, they will try to develop collaborative programs and seek new sources of funding. In addition, Dr. Prabhakaran will facilitate workshops and lectures with faculty, students and local health institutions.

“I hope to benefit from the rich culture of BC, and learn from both Western and Indigenous populations.” he says.

Dr. Prabhakaran is a cardiologist and epidemiologist by training. He heads the Centre for Control of Chronic Conditions at PHFI, which is a joint initiative of four leading institutions (Public Health Foundation of India, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and Emory University). This centre conducts cutting edge research in the prevention of chronic diseases in India and the developing world.

His work spans from mechanistic research to understanding the causes for increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) among Indians, to developing solutions for CVD through translational research and human resource development.

He has received funding from NHLBI, Wellcome Trust, European Commission and several other international and national funding bodies. Through this funding, Dr. Prabhakaran has established large cohorts in the cities of Delhi and Chennai which will provide rich data on South Asians who have CVD. In addition, he has done substantial work on electronic decision support systems in the management of hypertension, diabetes and other CVDs, along with the creation of internationally acclaimed training programs to strengthen primary health care through task shifting and capacity building of physicians.

To date, he has mentored over 50 post-doctoral and doctoral students. He has also authored several chapters and over 450 scholarly papers with an H index of 80.

For Dr. Prabhakaran, research has the potential of changing people’s lives and benefits populations at large. He has a few essential tips for students interested in research.

“To be a successful researcher and research leader, aspiring researchers need to be diligent, pay attention to details, be collaborative and respect others’ ideas,” he advises. “Identify a mentor and work closely with her/him, mentor younger colleagues with generosity and keep abreast of knowledge. Most importantly, try and maintain a work life balance and pay attention to family who are important co-travellers in your journey.”

Connect with Dr. Prabhakaran via email: dprabhakaran@phfi.org