Leading Lights of IDD

V. Ramalingaswami (1921-2001)
Former Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research

One of India’s most eminent scientists and internationally renowned pathologist and nutrition scientist, Prof V. Ramalingaswami became the second Director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, at a very young age. He later became Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) where he took public health to the community by convincing the government that the problem of goitre could simply be addressed through fortification of common salt with iodine. His deep interest in community oriented research is also reflected in his studies on the Bihar famine and the victims of the Bhopal gas disaster. He was the initiator of research on HIV in India. He had recognised early on that HIV would have a devastating impact in the country and across the world. Prof Ramalingaswami received much acclaim for his work and vision, in India and abroad. A Padmashri and Padmabhushan awardee, he was the recipient of many honorary degrees and accolades. He was invited by the World Health Organization to chair its global advisory committee on medical research and was adviser to UNICEF, Population Council and Canadian International Aid Agency. He was also Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Visiting Professor at several leading universities across the world. His help was sought by the Government of India on almost all health issues.

Dr Kalyan Bagchi

A doctorate in human nutrition from the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, UK (1958), was involved in the creation process of IDA while working at the All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, Kolkata. His work profile includes Nutrition Adviser, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India, Medical Officer for the World Health Organisation (WHO) office in Sudan and Geneva, and Consultant for WHO in Egypt. He also established 2 non-governmental organisations in India to take up projects on food and nutrition on behalf of the government of India. He has been involved in India’s national goitre control program, prevention of food adulteration activities and health care programs for the elderly. Now in his nineties, Dr Bagchi continues to read and write on food security, nutrition and ageing.

Dr. Madhav Gajanan Deo

Madhav Gajanan Deo earned his MBBS degree from Agra University (Gajra Raja Medical College, Gwalior) in 1955. Later he joined the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) where he obtained both MD (Pathology) and PhD under the supervision of the late Professor V Ramalingawami. He was a Professor of Pathology at the AIIMS (1974-78); Director, Cancer Research Institute (1978-95); Director, Research & Chief of Laboratories Jaslok Hospital (1997-98) and Director, SSR Centre for Medical Studies and Research, University of Mauritius (1998-2000). He was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, Visiting Professor at the University of Paris VII and a Fogarty Scholar in Residence at the National Institute of Health, Bethesda, USA. He is an Emeritus Professor (Life time) of National Academy of Medical Sciences.

Academic and Research Achievements: At AIIMS, Dr Deo developed a non-human primate model of human protein energy malnutrition. His research with Professor Ramalingaswami forms the scientific basis for our National Goiter Control Programme of the universal iodization of common salt. He developed a leading indigenous anti-leprosy vaccine using the ICRC bacillus. He has discovered a novel growth modulator (enhancing factor), which is a 14 kD polypeptide from the small intestine of mice. The EF gene has now been used to produce a transgenic mouse.

Other Contributions: Deo has established, along with other scientists, the Indian Association of Cancer Research of which he was the Founder President. He has played a very crucial role in the establishment of the Moving Academy of Medicine and Biomedicine, and also developed a novel strategy of mobile workshops that take new and fast expanding frontiers knowledge to the students’ doorsteps. He organized national medical students’ research conferences for promoting research culture in young medicos, which, has now resulted in the establishment of the Indian Forum for Medical Students’ Research (INFORMER) under his guidance. He has been an Advisor to a number of national and international organizations.

Awards and Honours: Dr Deo is a recipient of several prestigious awards, which include Amrut Mody Research Foundation Award (1972); BC Guha Lecture Award of INSA (1978); Basanti Devi Amir Chand Oration Award of ICMR (1980); Silver Jubilee Oration Award of AIIMS (1987); Om Prakash Bhasin Award (1988); Platinum Jubilee Lecture Award of Indian Science Congress Association (1988); Silver Jubilee Research Award of Medical Council of India (1989); Padma Shri Award by Government of India (1990); Rameshwardas Birla National Award (1992); Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Visiting Fellowship Award of INSA (1993) and Life Time Achievement Award by Association of Pathologist of Indian of North America, USA (2008). Besides, he is a Fellow of all prestigious National Science and Medical Academies. He was Secretary, INSA (1978-82).

Prof. M G Karmarkar
(28 April 1934- 12 January 2014)

Dr. Karmarkar

Dr. Karmarkar was an inspiring teacher, astute researcher, erudite scholar, a motivator, tenacious optimist, had a great sense of humour and was a great human being. Born on 28th April 1934 in Pune, Prof. Karmarkar completed his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from M.S. University, Baroda, India. He joined Department of Pathology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi in 1961 as a Research Officer where he continued to work till 1971. Prof. Karmarkar was the founder member of International Council for Control of Iodine deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) and Diabetes Foundation of India. He has been associated with these organizations in various capacities. Currently, he was a Senior Advisor to ICCIDD and the President of Diabetes Foundation of India.

Prof. Karmarkar was a doyen in the field of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). Starting with Kangra Valley Study in India in 1960s, he was pioneer in delineating the epidemiology of IDD in India. He was also part of the team that unraveled the epidemiology of neonatal hypothyroidism and impact of IDD on neuro-cognitive development in India. He played a major role in developing methods for assessment of iodine nutrition. He was part of the team that developed the micro plate method for estimation of urinary iodine excretion.

He was instrumental in establishment of IDD control programme at global level and in countries of South-East Asia region. He worked as advisor to various bilateral and multi-lateral Non-Governmental organizations on problems of Endemic Goitre in Bangladesh, Bhutan, DPR Korea, Iran, Libya, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand. He also helped in establishing IDD monitoring laboratories in many countries of the region including DPR Korea, Libya, Iran, Nepal, and Syria. He was member of many Task Force and Working Groups of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and other governmental organizations on Hypertension, IDD, Anaemia and other micro-nutrient deficiencies. He also worked very closely with salt producers and other stakeholders for promotion of Universal Salt Iodization (USI) in India and other countries of the region. He was actively involved in developing capacity for IDD monitoring.

Till his death, he was an ardent supporter for the cause of iodine elimination in the country and region and actively involved in promotion of USI. In his loss, the medical fraternity and the iodine community has lost one of its inspirations and well-wishers.

Narayana P Kochupillai

Narayana P Kochupillai earned his BSc from Kerala University, MBBS and MD from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He is Professor Emeritus, National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS). He did research on Immuno-assay technology with Dr Rosalyn S Yalow at the Mount Sinai Medical School, New York. Presently he is Director, Medical Research at MS Ramaiah Medical College, Bangalore.

Academic and Research Achievements: Kochupillai has 35 years of professional teaching and research experience in Internal Medicine & Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism at AIIMS, New Delhi. His original scientific discoveries resulted in new insights into the nature of endemically prevalent endocrine and metabolic disorders in India and other World countries, leading to adoption of successful preventive measures nationally and intentionally to save millions from physical as well as mental disabilities and developmental disorders. He provided expert tertiary care in the specialty of internal medicine and clinical endocrinology and metabolism to hundreds of thousands from all over India, Nepal, and Bhutan, as a clinical consultant at the AIIMS, for over 30 years. Thus he contributed remarkably to the specialty development in India. He has over 145 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals. He has trained over 40 super-specialists in clinical medicine, endocrinology and metabolism as well as biotechnology leading to the award of MD, MSc, DM and PhD degrees.

Other Contributions: Kochupillai was President of Endocrine Society of India (1999-2000).

Awards and Honours: Kochupillai received the Soloman A Berson International Fellowship (1975-77); Annual Oration Award of the Endocrine Society of India (1995); INSA-Royal Society International Exchange Fellowship (1995); Srikantia Memorial Oration Award by the Nutrition Society of India (1996); Platinum Jubilee Lecture Award of Indian Science Congress Association (1997); Ranbaxy International Award for Clinical Research (1999); Guha Memorial Oration Award of Indian Science Congress Association (2002-03); BC Roy National Award (2002); Padma Shri (2003); Lifetime Achievement Award by the Endocrine Society of India (2005); Andhra Pradesh Diabetes Association Medal (2004); Sircar Oration Award by the Uttar Pradesh Diabetes Association (2005); and FESTA Award by the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute, Luknow (2005) and Shree Dhanwantari Prize (2009) of INSA. He is a Fellow of National Academy of Medical Sciences (India) and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore.

Dr. Chandrakant S Pandav

Dr. Chandrakant S. Pandav is Professor & Head of the Centre for Community Medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. He is a physician, medical scientist, public health specialists, epidemiologist and health economist. Alumnus of the McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr Pandav has been working in the areas of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), micronutrients, health systems research, public-private partnerships and human rights issues.

He is the founder member and Regional Co-ordinator for South Asia of International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) Global Network since 1985. Dr Pandav has worked as a consultant for the WHO, UNICEF, ICCIDD, Programs against Micronutrient Malnutrition (PAMM), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Micronutrient Initiative (MI) at the national, regional and global levels for over 60 countries. Dr. Pandav is co-editor of 14 books on health sciences and has authored more than 350 papers published in various national and international peer reviewed journals.

The major contribution over the years has been in his role as champion of IDD elimination in the country and the region. His research since 1978 has contributed enormously to the initiation of National Iodine Deficiency Disorder Control Programme and universal Salt Iodization in India as well as many countries of Asia. The salt iodization in India has resulted in an annual gain of about 250 million IQ points in recent years and a gain of four billion IQ points till date since 1985 due to prevention of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. This has led to enhancement in intellectual capital of India, especially among the downtrodden and those at the margins of the society.

He is Advisory Board Member and reviewer for various reputed Journals. He is currently member of many technical/expert groups constituted by Government of India, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and various others National and International bodies. He is also the past president of Indian Public Health Association (IPHA) and Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM).

Dr. Pandav is having many awards and honors to his name including the most prestigious Dr. M.K. Seshadri Prize & Gold Medal by ICMR for the year 2000 for his outstanding contributions to the field of Community Medicine.

Rajan Sankar
Country Manager, India and Senior Advisor, South Asia

An Indian national, Rajan Sankar joined GAIN in March 2006. Dr. Sankar is responsible for supporting GAIN’s program development and grant management in India, under the leadership and support of the Executive Director and Directors in Geneva.

Dr. Sankar is a medical graduate from the University of Madras with a specialization in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology. His special areas of interest are thyroid disorders in pregnant women and in children and micronutrient deficiency disorders. He has undergone training in Clinical Epidemiology and has extensive experience with managing and monitoring micronutrient deficiency elimination programs in India and the South Asia region generally.

Prior to joining GAIN, Dr. Sankar was a Project Officer in the Child Development and Nutrition section of UNICEF in India, responsible for the coordination of micronutrient malnutrition elimination programs with eleven field offices and the India country office. Before this, he was Regional Technical Advisor for Asia with the Micronutrient Initiative (MI) responsible for the strategic development and delivery of micronutrient malnutrition control programs in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

From 1994 to 2001, Dr. Sankar was head of the Thyroid Research Centre within the Government of India’s Ministry of Defense in New Delhi. In 2001, he retired from the Indian Army Medical Corps in the rank of Colonel after 24 years of service. He has been a member of the Steering Committee on Universal Salt Iodization of the Government of India and is the Vice President of the Thyroid Association of India. He has published over 50 scientific papers in national and international journals.