Department of Microbiology
Medical microbiology, the large subset of microbiology that is applied to medicine, is a branch of medical science concerned with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. In addition, this field of science studies various clinical applications of microbes for the improvement of health.
Infectious diseases are not only spreading faster, they appear to be emerging more quickly than ever before. Since the 1970s, newly emerging diseases have been identified at the unprecedented rate of one or more per year. There are now nearly 40 diseases that were unknown a generation ago. In addition, during the last five years, WHO has verified more than 1100 epidemic events worldwide. Infections continue to cause morbidity and mortality worldwide and account for one-third of all deaths in the world. They are also the leading cause of death in developing countries.
Antimicrobial resistance of infectious agents is a growing public health threat to countries worldwide. Increasingly, governments around the world are beginning to pay attention to a problem so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine. A post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.
The need for medical students to learn about infections and their appropriate antibiotic management is far greater today than in any other era. Thus learning microbiology will enhance the knowledge regarding specific aetiological agents of infections, their pathogenesis and susceptibility to antimicrobial agents to enable the students to prescribe specific and targeted antimicrobial therapy for infections, when they become medical practioners. In doing so, they will contribute to reduce the global burden of increasing antimicrobial resistance in some measure.
Learning microbiology and clinical work go hand in hand enabling medical undergraduates to relate the knowledge learnt in the subject to cases of infectious diseases seen and discussed in the wards. In this way the subject becomes more interesting and relevant to the clinical work in the hospital. The Department of Microbiology undertakes teaching microbiology and immunology to provide undergraduates, knowledge of the aetiology, pathogenesis, laboratory diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control of infections and the immunological mechanisms of the human host in health and disease.
More recently the department introduced new concepts in medical education to teaching and learning microbiology to enhance student centered learning. Through a learning management system, the department hopes to introduce student centered learning techniques such as flipped classroom model for clinical microbiology. The medical education research conducted by the department members on these learning models has shown some promising results.
Results of research conducted by the department on antibiotic resistance of hospital and community pathogens have led to valuable data which have enriched the teaching and learning aspects in medical microbiology. In future, the department hopes to offer research training to undergraduate and post-graduate students and to deliver expert microbiological diagnostic services to the public depending on the availability of the expertise and resources.