The Department of Pharmacology has a long history of research endeavors starting from the 1950s. Dr.J.C.David (1951-’62) was the founder head of the present Pharmacology Department following the initial phase of teachers who were from the West. Dr.J.C.David joined CMC after retirement from the Madras Medical College and was appointed as the Principal of the College. He was the co-author of the only text book of Pharmacology available in India at that time. One of the significant developments during the early period of 1960-’65 was the initiation of the post graduate courses in the Basic Science Departments of the Medical College. This was possible because of the leadership of the Principal, Dr Jacob Chandy who took a keen interest to initiate these courses, affiliated to the University. His vision was to improve the quality of the faculty and to improve the standards in the Basic Science Departments. In 1965, under the able guidance of Dr Ranita Aiman (1962-’70), the MD Pharmacology course and the three year MSc course was started.
The Department was one of the earliest to offer the PhD training programme, as a result many MSc graduates and some of the medical faculty obtained the PhD degree during the tenure of Dr Paul Stephen (1970-’91) , as the Head of the Department. Dr Stephen was also involved in cardiovascular research. Dr Alice Kuruvilla (1994-’99) contributed significantly to the functioning of the Basic laboratory within the Department where associated research projects were performed routinely. She held the additional post as Head of Pharmacy Services when she was the Professor in the Department.
Over the years, substantial research grants were received from I.C.M.R., Department of Atomic energy (Government of India), Council of Scientific and Industrial research, ECFMG, Unichem Research laboratories, EID Parry, WHO and Lutheran World Foundation. The main areas of interest have been in the fields of Neuropharmacology, Psychiatry, Cardiovascular, Pharmacology, Endocrinology, Toxicology.
From 1982, the Clinical Pharmacology wing of the Department developed under the leadership of the late Dr Molly Thomas (1991-’98). The advocacy and sensitization about rational use of medicines was initiated and through multiple workshops, the information was disseminated to the scientific community. Many of these workshops received financial assistance from the International Union of Pharmacology. She also had a key role in starting one of the first (Adverse Drug Reaction) ADR monitoring centres in the 1980s in the Department. Adverse drug reports from not only CMC, but also from hospitals and clinics in Vellore were collected and analyzed in the Department. The initiation of the current Therapeutic Drug Monitoring service was the vision of Dr Denise Fleming, an Honorary Professor from the UK, in the year 2001 and happened under the headship of Dr Kalpana Ernest (1999-2016).