Desert Medicine research Centre is one of the permanent institutes of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a Government of India’s apex autonomous organization for bio-medical research in the country. Realizing the importance of research needs of existing and emerging health problems of desert, ICMR decided to establish a Centre in Rajasthan with a definite mandate to undertake and promote research on health problems specific to desert areas, study the changing patterns of health problems especially in view of various developmental activities taking place in the region and strengthen the scientific and technical expertise of state as well as local health agencies.
The Centre, established on 27th June, 1984, started functioning in the form of three co-ordinating units located at Jodhpur, Bikaner, and Jaipur. The positioning of the three units in three areas of Rajasthan, represented a desert health study unit at Jodhpur, a unit representing desert area with developmental activity (Indira Gandhi Nahar Priyojna) at Bikaner and a non-desert area represented by the Jaipur unit. A comprehensive baseline health survey in three units was undertaken to have scientifically generated observations on the health profile of the region and factors associated with the morbidity pattern. With the completion of baseline health survey, all the units of the Centre were merged to form a unified research Centre at Jodhpur in the year 1992.
During two decades of its existence, DMRC has contributed to generate baseline data on nutritional problems faced by the population of desert areas, understanding of transmission dynamics of vector borne diseases (malaria & dengue) in the changing ecology of desert areas, other health problems like silicosis, hypertension, renal stones, specific maternal-child health issues, elimination of guinea worm disease, etc. The Centre has several ongoing programmes on dengue, malaria, vector bionomics, insecticide resistance, novel herbs with potential as insecticides as well as anti-infective agents, hypertension, and various nutritional deficiencies in vulnerable populations aiming to establish itself as centre of excellence on these problems with special reference to desert ecology. With its transformation into a research, teaching and training centre (e.g. already recognized for a PhD programme), DMRC has now grown up to undertake opportunities and challenges in human health research with more vigour and enthuse to fulfill its overall mandate of the new charter of duties meeting national and international goals in this area.
Two decades of R & D effort, a journey towards technical excellence in desert health management has led DMRC to emerge as a nodal centre undertaking research activities of a National Institute on Desert Health. Centre’s programmes in areas like human physiology, geographical genomics, nutritional diseases, operational research, vector-borne diseases, medicinal and insecticidal plants, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, advanced functional biomaterials, non-communicable diseases, nano-bio interface, health problems associated with desert environment, famine, floods, opium addiction, dehydration, water borne diseases, radio isotopic applications, NBC threats and post disaster management provide DMRC the plate form for leadership both at national and international level as arid zones constitute about one-seventh of the earth's land surface.