Schieffelin Institute of Health – Research and Leprosy Centre (SIHRLC) located near Vellore in Tamil Nadu, was established in 1955 to care for the leprosy patients in and around Vellore and to set up a research institution to probe into the multifaceted problems of leprosy. Dr. Robert Cochrane was the moving force behind this venture.

A plot of land, 15 km from Christian Medical College (CMC) hospital, Vellore and 4 km from any approach road, was obtained from the Government. With the close cooperation of The Leprosy Mission (TLM) and the American Leprosy Missions (ALM) and CMC, the project gradually materialized.

The Institute is named in honor of Mr. William J Schieffelin, the then President of the ALM, which funded the building project. Dr. Ida Scudder, the founder of CMC, turned the sod on 6th September 1952. Mr. William Bailey, Secretary of Southern Asia TLM, supervised the programme. The buildings were completed and the Schieffelin Leprosy Research Sanatorium (as it was then known) was declared open on 20th June 1955.

The Schieffelin Leprosy Research Sanatorium was renamed as the Schieffelin Leprosy Research & Training Centre in 1974. The institution was registered as a company in 1977 and became independent from all three founding organizations.

Leprosy services were integrated into general health services in 1997. In 2006, in order to reflect the integrated nature of the institution, the institution was renamed as Schieffelin Institute of Health – Research and Leprosy Centre (SIHRLC).

Over the past six decades SIHRLC has treated leprosy and its complications, carried out state of the art research to understand the disease, and trained all levels of health personnel in the management of leprosy.


SIHRLC’s contributions to different aspects of leprosy are significant.

  • The leprosy control programme in a defined geographical area around Karigiri started in the 1960’s. In collaboration with the Govt. of India, WHO and ILEP organizations, the prevalence of leprosy was brought down from 250 per 10,000 to less than 1 per 10,000 in 2006.
  • Leprosy services were integrated into general health services.
  • Pioneering clinical, epidemiological and laboratory research studies into the disease have thrown light on the intriguing aspects of leprosy.
  • Paul Brand’s path breaking innovation of tendon transfer surgery for leprosy deformed hands and feet, was perfected at Karigiri. This has transformed the limbs and lives of thousands in India and all over the world.
  • A unique animal laboratory was set up in 1969 to grow leprosy bacilli in the foot pad of mouse and carry out research, as these bacteria do not grow in artificial media unlike other bacteria.
  • Many best practice methods in the management of leprosy and its complications were evolved
  • Invention of Micro Cellular Rubber (MCR) in 1965 addressed the problem of injury and ulceration of feet.
  • It was in Karigiri’s control area that the Multi Drug Therapy (MDT) was field-tested by the WHO in 1982. The treatment regimen had formatting impacts on the National and International History of Leprosy.

More than half a century hence, SIHRLC, Karigiri continues to focus on leprosy, being a tertiary referral centre for the management of leprosy, training health care workers in leprosy in the integration phase and carrying out research in the unsolved issues of leprosy.

Over the past six decades, SIHRLC has grown into a centre of excellence in tertiary care centre for leprosy services, International Leprosy training centre and a state of the art Leprosy Research Centre.


Since the integration of leprosy into general health services in 1997, SIHRLC has collaborated with the government in taking on TB, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes and Disabilities program in its geographical area. Since 1998 it also developed into a quality secondary care centre adding on services such as General Medicine, General Surgery, OG and Paediatrics to the already existing Dermatology, Orthopaedics and Ophthalmological services.

The services of this institution are delivered in three centers –

Two First Referral units located in Katpadi (Paul Brand Integrated Health Centre or PBIHC) and Gudiyatham,

and a Base Hospital located at Karigiri.

The First referral units provide OP services, while the Base Hospital provides OP/IP services with excellent operation theatre and support. All units are equipped well with facilities, established laboratory and other supporting facilities.




Acquisition of land at Karigiri.



Turning of sod by Dr. Ida Scudder.



Hospital declared open on 20th June.



Mat weaving unit started for rehabilitation of treated leprosy patients with Social Welfare Board assistance.



Collaboration with Swedish Red Cross for Gudiyatham Leprosy Epidemiology Project; Micro Cellular Rubber (MCR) Mill started.



St. Luke’s Chapel dedicated.



Women’s ward and SRC ward added.



Radda Barren Research Laboratory started for Experimental Pathology work with animal house.



Administrative Block, Guest House and Splint Workshop opened.



Board of Governors formed – Karigiri gets autonomy status.



Multi Drug Therapy introduced; opening of Lazarus Ward.



Foot Care Centre – gift of ICCO Project, Netherlands; Indian Merchants Chamber Award 1982 for Mat weaving Project.



Inauguration of new Medical Ward – gift from CBM.



Inauguration of Data Processing Unit- gift of ALM and TLM; New Operation Theatre- funded by ICCO Netherlands. Karigiri Video Unit dedicated, courtesy GOI, USAID.



Epidemiology Block Extension funded by Baptist Union of Sweden.



Ofloxacin Multicentric Field Trial -WHO sponsored.



Local Area Computer Network -LAN launched. New Eye OPD dedicated-funded by CBM.



Recognition for Ph. D. For DPOE Course by RCI and by CMAI to start DMIIT one year Course.



Integration of Leprosy control with general Public Health Services by Tamil Nadu Government. Leprosy control project area Gudiyatham Taulk handed over. Best Institution Award given by Tamil Nadu Government for Services rendered for the Rehabilitation of Disabled 1996-97. SHARP (Society for Help and Rehabilitation of Persons Affected by Leprosy and other Disabilities) started.



Epidemiology becomes Community Health Department. Ear, Nose, Throat Surgery Unit started. NATIONAL Award 1997 – 98 from the Prime Minister for ‘The Best Institution serving the cause of Rehabilitation of the Disabled’.



General Anaesthesia Services and General Surgery Unit, Molecular Biology Laboratory Project launched.



Trauma General Orthopaedic Units inaugurated with Casualty Services. Formation of SHGs for Rehabilitation of Leprosy affected and other disabled.



Vision Statement re-drafted. Department of Information and Communication formed. Karigiri School of Nursing with Diploma in Nursing Course started. DNB Course in Dermatology started.



Karigiri website launched @ ; DNB course in Orthopaedics started.



Community Geriatric Health Care Course started; Obstetrics and Gynaecology Unit with Labour Room opened; Paediatric Unit started; Recognized as Family Planning Centre and as Nodal Treatment Centre for RNTCP; Mid Term Evaluation for implementation of Karigiri Consultation Committee’s recommendations; Strategic Planning Workshop on Karigiri’s future conducted.



New Rubber Mill fully renovated with new equipment; Orthotic Workshop – extended with new equipment; PG Diploma in Podiatry Care for Physiotherapy graduates; Golden Jubilee Scientific Workshop conducted; Turning of the sod and laying Foundation stone for the new Dr. Paul Brand Integrated Health Centre at Katpadi.



Inauguration of the Paul Brand Integrated Health Centre; Dental unit started.



Recognized as Blood Storage Centre by the Tamil Nadu Government.



MCR unit renamed – Mammen Mapillai MCR Unit; Golden Jubilee of the Rehabilitation unit – Block Printing facility inaugurated.



CMAI recognition to start Diploma in Radiographer’s Techniques; Recognized as a “Centre of Excellence for Foot Care” by the World Diabetes Foundation; Recognized as “Sentinel Surveillance Centre for Drug Resistance” in Leprosy by WHO.



Rebalancing of OP Services; Courses for DLOs and SLOs under NLEP.



Dedication of new staff bus, Lazarus ward, Interns hostel, Extension of Gudiyatham hospital, Inauguration of the AHBAAS project.


Inauguration of College of Health Sciences at PBIHC; SBI ATM in the campus.



Inauguration of new renovated building for College of Health Sciences.



Donation of Ambulance by State Bank of India, Vellore.



Extension of operation theatre. Strategic planning for 2015-2019 meeting held.



Extension of new OP building inaugurated.





The Schieffelin Institute of Health – Research & Leprosy Centre (SIHRLC),
Karigiri, (via Katpadi) – 632106, Vellore District,
Tamil Nadu, India.

Phone: 0416-2274-223

Mobile: 9442274224