Rangaswamy Thara Named the 2020 Outstanding Clinical and Community Research Awardee
The Schizophrenia International Research Society has named Rangaswamy Thara, Ph.D., FRCPsych, the 2020 Outstanding Clinical and Community Research Awardee. Dr. Thara is a psychiatrist by training and the co-Founder of SCARF (Schizophrenia Research Foundation), located in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India. SCARF is a Collaborating Centre of the WHO for mental health research.
After receiving her Ph.D. at Madras University on the subject of disability in schizophrenia, she passionately lobbied for the inclusion of mental disability in the Indian Disabilities Act and was largely instrumental in the development of IDEAS, a measuring tool used to measure disability in mental disorders.
A Message from Dame Til Wykes, SIRS President
SIRS emphasises the links between research, clinical services and policy and this next award winner embodies them all. I am personally delighted to announce that the 2020 Outstanding Clinical and Community Research Award goes to Dr Thara Rangaswamy, from Chennai, India. Thara is one of the world class researchers based in India who has made it her life’s work to tie research, clinical work and training together to produce some ideas for services that cross borders to provide the most access to effective mental health services for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. These services can then tell us more about what works and doesn’t work so we can begin to increase the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treatments to different cultures and resource limitations. She is clearly a star and has made (and will make) a great impact in our field.
A Message from Ashok Malla, MBBS, FRCPC, MRCPsych
Dr. Thara Rangaswarmy is a pioneer in developing effective evidence-based models of care for schizophrenia that are most suitable to low resource environments such as India. More than three decades ago she had the foresight to co-found the non-profit Schizophrenia Research Foundation, a unique service, research and training centre. From this base she has led a team of clinicians, researchers and volunteers in collaboration with some of the leading academic centres in the world.
Her research is directly relevant to people with schizophrenia and is as broad as it is deep. But her diligence does not stop there, she has also greatly influenced mental health policy, not only in India but globally, especially as it relates to low-middle income countries. Her contribution to our understanding of the longitudinal aspects of treatment and outcome as well as testing innovative models of community delivery of services is most deservingly being awarded with the SIRS 2020 Outstanding Clinical and Community Award. She remains a great role model for young women clinicians and researchers many of whom she has mentored over the years.
A Message from Rangaswamy Thara, Outstanding Clinical and Community Research Awardee
I am delighted and honored to be named as the recipient of the 2020 SIRS Outstanding Clinical and Community Research Award. This award is a validation of a lifetime’s work on mental health, with a not for profit organization, the Schizophrenia Research Foundation, better known as SCARF, based in Chennai in south India (www.scarfindia.org). I am especially honoured to be among the very few recipients of any SIRS award from LAMI countries. The challenges faced in pursuing a research career alongside many other responsibilities are formidable and I am happy that SIRS has recognized this.
While significant genetic and biological research goes on, our priority has been to evolve and put in place research practices that help communities and families deal with this complex bio psychosocial disorder. Only with all this information can we unravel the enigma of schizophrenia. Increasing access to treatment for millions of people with severe mental disorders in rural areas is critical. Improving treatment outcomes, and indeed understanding the ‘whys’ of this is equally critical – if indeed outcome in our countries is favourable, we need to tease out the ingredients that could account for this – be it family, social support, stigma or broader community acceptance.
Looking ahead, I want to see more avenues for young researchers to access both fiscal and human research resources so they can contribute to the growing body of evidence. My wish is that second most populous country in the world, India, should emerge as a strong and vibrant research centred nation to help tackle and resolve mental health issues.