The pioneer of IVF in India - Dr. T C Anand Kumar passes away
Dr. Rajvi Mehta23 February 2010
Dr. T.C Anand Kumar, the pioneer of India’s first scientifically documented test tube baby, passed away on January 26, 2010 at the age of 74. A reproductive biologist of international repute, he will always be remembered for his diverse contributions to the field ranging from the role of the neuro-endocrine system in reproduction; developing the means of administering hormones via the nasal route and spear-heading the team that produced India’s first test tube baby at the ICMR’s Institute for Research in Reproduction and the KEM Hospital, Mumbai in 1986. After his retirement as the Director of the Institute for Research in Reproduction, Mumbai, he founded Hope Infertility Clinic in Bangalore in 1991 where many of the first generation of ART specialists in the country were trained and started their careers in this field.
Having attained his doctorate in India, he went to Birmingham, UK to pursue his studies. Despite several job opportunities provided to him in UK, he was committed by a national spirit and returned to India to participate in the growth of science in the young nation. It was then that he started the electron microscopy laboratory at the All India Institute Medical Sciences in the 1970 which is still functional today.
He continued sharing his wisdom and experience with the younger generation of scientists by serving as an advisor on many committees on the World Health Organization, Department of Science and Technology, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India; Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and the Indian Council of Medical Research till September 2009.
His work was recognized by his peers and he received the Shanti Swaroop BHatnagar Award, the highest scientific award in the country; the Sanjay Gandhi National Award, and was fellow of prestigious Indian Academy of Science; the National Academy of Medical Science (India) and fellow of the Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.
The visionary in Dr Anand Kumar was equally concerned about the welfare of his patients seeking treatment with newer reproductive technologies. When the first scientifically documented test tube baby was born, he was always questioned whether an over populated country needed test-tube babies. With this modality of treatment gaining acceptance and hundreds of clinics operating in India, he took a lead in formulating National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision and Regulation of ART Clinics in India.
A man who stood for truth had the greatness to give away his fame and glory of being the pioneer of India’s first test tube baby when he discovered all the hand-written notes of Dr Subhas Mukerjee. Dr Mukerjee from Kolkata had claimed to have created a test tube baby in 1979 (the second in the world) but his claims were neither substantiated nor recognized by scientists or the authorities leading to the man ending his life prematurely. Dr Anand Kumar had the courage to research his predecessors’ findings and scientifically present it to the world giving Dr Mukerjee his due place in medical history (Anand Kumar T C. Curr Sci. 72:526-531; 1997). Such generosity and honesty is a very rare and precious attribute.
Dr Anand Kumar’s love for science and the search for the truth will always be remembered. His students who are now highly placed all over the world would always cherish their mentor. He is survived by his wife, Karpagam son Vijay and a daughter Ambika and three grand children.