Professor Man Mohan Singh Ahuja
August 16, 1929 to July 12, 1998

Born on August 16, 1929 in Multan, now in Pakistan.

Started medical education at Lahore Medical College, Lahore. After partition, he continued medical educaton in Madras Medical College, Madras, and completed MB BS in 1952.

Later on he continued education at Royal College of Physicians, London and passed MRCP (London) in first attempt in 1956, and thereafter residency at Hammersmith Hospital, London, till 1958 when he joined AIIMS as Registrar in Medicine.

He was promoted as Associate Professor of Medicine in 1963. He became Head of the Department of Medicine in 1969 amd continued till October 1982. Due to separation of the Department of Medicine, he opted to head the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism from November 1982 onwards till his retirement in August 1989.

In 1985, he started D.M. Endocrinology course at the Institute.

He was awarded supernumberary Professor's post for two years, because of being awarded Nehru Fellowship, on which post he continued till August, 1991.

After retirement, he joined Sitaram Bhartiya Institute of Medical Education and Research and worked there till his last.

He was awarded Fellowship of Royal College of Physicians, London in 1981, and was also awarded the prestigious B.C. Roy award for Medical Research in 1982. He was also recipient of number of WHO Fellowships, AIIMS-New Zealand Exchange Programme, etc.

He published more than 150 original articles and written 7 high standard books which are used by post graduates in Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes.

He was expert in various examinations and selections of UPSC, NBE, ICMR, CSIR, DST and number of Universities and
public examination boards.

He survives his wife, Dr. Meera Ahuja, daughter Ms. Sumati, and
one son Mr. Vikas.

He started the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India,
in 1972 for advancement of diabetes in India.
It celebrated its Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1997.

He was awarded ` Padma Shree' in 1993.

Dean, AIIMS 1988-1989

Physician to the President of India, Dr. R. Venkataraman,
President of India.

 

Prof. N. Kochupillai
Head
Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism
All India Institute of Medical Sciences
New Delhi 110 029

Professor M.M.S. Ahuja was a pioneering clinical endocrinologist of this country, who made several valuable contributions towards the understanding of the syndrome of diabetes as seen in India. By training he belonged to the British class of clinicians. However, his native investigative flair and early training at Harvard transformed him into a Clinical Endocrinologist with an American flavour. During the course of his tenure at AIIMS, under the leadership of that doyen among clinicians, Prof. K.L. Wig, he matured into a clinical endocrinologist of uniquely Indian vintage.

At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences AIIMS, I had the good fortune of joining him as an intern, soon after his return from Harvard. In the Endocrine clinics run by Dr. Ahuja at AIIMS, early in the sixties, discussion on new patients used to run late into the nights and there was all round excitement about seeing Indian patients in the light of new American information! Those days in India available knowledge in the discipline was confined to a few hundred pages of an advanced text in internal medicine. With the arrival of Dr. Ahuja library began rapidly acquiring Journals, reviews, monographs and specialised texts dealing with current topics in clinical endocrinology. A metabolic laboratory was soon in position. Clinical scientists and specialists of international repute began frequenting the Institute. For Indian specialists returning to their country after advanced training abroad, AIIMS became a favourite sojourn. Invited lectures, symposia, postgraduate seminars, case reviews, endocrine rounds and Journal clubs constituted busy weekly schedules.

I remember Dr. Rastogi as one of the early CSIR scientists working in the Department, in those exciting days. He soon moved over to PGI Chandigarh to develop the now well known programme on DM endocrinology there. Dr. Ahuja's priorities, however, were different. He was more keen to get on with the important task of documenting, discovering, dissecting and disseminating the many unique facets of endocrine and metabolic bio-medicine as experienced in India. He established laboratories with state of the art techniques for measuring hormones and metabolites acquired instrumentation and standardised techniques for tracer studies using radio-active isotopes.

He worked with M.D. level trainees to inculcate in them the culture of developing and using laboratory technology to address scientific questions in clinical endocrinology. I was one such trainee with him during 1964-66, and I distinctly remember how he guided me through the conceptual jungle of iodine kinetics, and ultimately helped me develop a protocol to study a set of complex parameters of quantitative iodine metabolism in a variety of simple goitres in Delhi, a pioneering observation that lead to the discovery of a large number of extra Himalayan areas of iodine deficient endemic goitre in the Indian sub-continent.

During the decades spanning 1962-85 he initiated into research programmes and trained over a hundred MD students in the nascent discipline of clinical endocrinology and metabolism and in that process gathered an impressive body of original information about endocrine and metabolic disorders as seen in India. The large numbers of specialists that he has so trained are now occupying chairs in academic institutions and leading professional groups nationally and internationally. The quality of scientific and professional contributions made by Prof. Ahuja's students at the national and international levels can be gauged from the fact that annually thousands of citations of their work are documented in International Science Citation Index.

It was Dr. Ahuja's preference to be an endocrinologist, in the larger context of an Internist. And even as an internist, his contributions have been original and creative. Thus, during the late seventies and early eighties he exhaustively reviewed published work in Internal medicine in general and clinical endocrinology in particular from India and got together a large number of contributors and edited and published a series of volumes on `Progress in Medicine'. These extremely popular volumes were indeed unique and monumental documentations of scientific work done in India on problems unique to Indian Medicine. Many generations of students of Internal Medicine benefitted enormously from these volumes.

Clinical diabetes was Dr. Ahuja's first love as an investigator. Through persistent investigative effort, spanning three decades, he made major contributions towards the understanding of the syndrome of diabetes mellitus as seen in India. The two epidemiological studies conducted by him under the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research are unique bench mark studies at the national level. These studies are the only authentic sources of information on the prevalence and epidemiology of diabetes in India. His characterization of the unique type of ketosis resistant young diabetics, which is distinct from the chronic fibrocalcific pancreatitis-related diabetes described by Gee Vargheese from Kerala, still continues to hold ground as a distinct entity accounting for roughly a quarter of the young diabetics seen in North India. His contributions towards profiling the pattern of complications of diabetes in North India, is internationally recognised.

The fact that we are all here today under the organisational umbrella of RSSDI to compare notes, discuss and debate scientific issues in diabetes is indeed the most telling example of professor Ahuja's visionary zeal and scientific fervour. He gave this unique name for the organisation; `Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India', thus emphasising the main objective of the society, i.e. research. This is a telling example of Dr. Ahuja's life long involvement with science and research, his total commitment to the rational and objective way of looking at issues of life in general.

At a time when, in the medical schools of India, professorial opinion on clinical problem was accepted as unquestionable `truth'. Dr Ahuja was refreshingly candid and open minded, and on rational basis anyone, even an intern, could question his opinion and clinical decision. Indeed, he used to aggressively encourage questions during teaching exercises and ward rounds and the positive chemistry we had mutually between us was entirely because of my questioning nature and Prof. Ahuja's appreciation of a questioning mind. To the young mind exposed to the baffling biology of bed-side phenomenon, the natural response is in the form of innumerable questions. Many of them may be foolish or even ignorant, but several of them may indeed be sensible and may be even without an answer! As a young trainee in internal medicine, bed-side answers in my mind and the whole process of bed-side learning at AIIMS was made doubly exciting because senior teachers, and particularly professor Ahuja, used to candidly admit their ignorance which often encouraged me to pursue the answer in literature or through investigations. The self confidence inculcated in students through such candour among teachers like Dr Ahuja's, contributed greatly to the learning process at AIIMS.

Professor Ahuja was indeed a clinical scientist; a clinician with well honed scientific temper and investigative zeal. Clinical scientists can play the most pivotal role in generating new knowledge in human biology; for he directly deals with nature's experiments when he observes and infers on as bed side phenomenon. Therefore, when endowed with astute bed-side skills, deep knowledge in basic biomedical sciences, and assisted by sophisticated laboratory support, a clinical scientist is placed most favorably to make scientific discoveries immediately relevant to human biology than investigators who generate information through animal experimentation. Dr. Ahuja had the mind-set and skills to shape up as a clinical scientist par excellence. However, the techno-science base of endocrine and metabolic bio-medicine was weak during formative years of his professional career. Despite this disadvantage, Dr Ahuja made valiant efforts to keep abreast of the breathtakingly fast developments in basic sciences relevant to clinical biology and made impressive contributions as a pioneer in India. And his accomplishments speak volumes about his indomitable will, driven by the `Srasha' native to his Being.

Prof. N. Kochupillai
 

Dr. G.R. Sridhar
Editor
Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Endocrine and Diabetes Centre
Visakhapatnam 530 002

Professor Ahuja is no more. The teacher of teachers, the clinician, the researcher, the administrator, the founding father and guiding light to the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India died on 12th July 1998 after a brief respiratory illness. He is survived by his wife. Dr. Meera Ahuja and children Sumathi and Vikas.

Prof Ahuja had been a towering presence in all he did. Those of us who were privileged to work with him were aware of his tremendous zeal, enthusiasm and drive. He seemed to say, yesterday is history. Today and tomorrow is where your focus should be.

To most of us who knew him it seemed out of place to even conceive of his personal life, such as his birth, training, publications or awards. He was so full of science, medicine, endocrinology and diabetes - not just basic science, clinical science or research, but a synthesis of all these in the care of each individual as a person, and in the delivery of health care as well. The science of medicine, and in particular, endocrinology and diabetes was very much a part of him: be it in documenting and extending their frontiers, or in training those who did that - in out country as well as across the seas in all parts of the world.

Prof Ahuja was born on 16th August 1929 in Multan, now in Pakistan. He began his medical education at Lahore Medical College, Lahore. Due to the partition of 1947 he was relocated to Madras Medical College Madras, where he graduated in 1952. Later he was awarded Membership Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) London in the first attempt. He worked as resident at the renowned Hammersmith Hospital London, before joining All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

At AIIMS where he joined as Registrar in Medicine, he was quickly promoted to Associate Professor of Medicine and became Head of the Department of Endocrinology, which was established in 1982. In 1988 he was appointed Dean of AIIMS. A year later he was honoured with the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship. He was awarded the post of supernumerary Professor for two years, after superannuation in 1989.

At AIIMS, Prof Ahuja started the DM course in Endocrinology, which has become a premier training centre, whose alumni are continuing to extend frontiers of clinical care and research.

Prof Ahuja was ,made Fellow of Royal College of physicians (FRCP) in 1974 and Fellow of National Academy of Medical Science in India in 1975. He received the prestigious Dr BC Roy Award for Medical Research in 1982. In 1988 he received the Fellowship of the India College of Physicians. He was awarded WHO fellowship, AIIMS-New Zealand Exchange Programme, Rockfeller Fellow for Endocrinology, Welcome Trust Travelling Fellow and WHO Senior Scientist Fellowship.

Prof Ahuja had more than 150 publications in all standard India journals and in most internationally reputed journals such as British Medical Journal, Lancet, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Acta Diabetologia, Hormone Metabolic Research, Diabetes Bulletin, Metabolism,New England Journal of Medicine, Diabetes Care, Yearbook of Endocrinology and Hormone Research.

He authored or edited seven high standard textbooks which are recognised as postgraduate reference books, particularly `Progress in Clinical Medicine' series. His monograph on Epidemiology of diabetes in India is a source book, widely quoted in international literature.

Prof Ahuja was expert member in various examinations and selections of UPSC,NBE,ICMR,CSIR,DST and a number of universities and examination boards. He was also member of many expert committees and task forces set up by ICMR,WHO and Govt of India on medical matters. In recognition of his efforts, the Govt of India conferred upon him Padmashri in 1993. He was also physician to Dr. R. Venkataraman, the President of India.

Inspite of his busy schedule and dedication to research, Prof Ahuja was instrumental in founding two major organisations, 'Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India' and ' Hormone Foundation, India'. He was founding editor of Diabetes Bulletin, which is now being published as International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries.

He bestowed enormous care, effort and affection on RSSDI and Diabetes Bulletin. Drawing on his wide and deep knowledge, he took extraordinary pains in formulating the national meetings, chalking out scientific programmes, and in designing theme- related issues of the Bulletin. We were struck by the combination of breadth of vision, as well as critical care in the publication he displayed. along with his tremendous physical energy.

Even after he joined Sitaram Bhartiya Institute of Medical Education and Research in 1991, he continued to pursue research and presented his new data in February 1998. His lectures were a culmination of knowledge and wisdom: personal research, thorough search of literature and finally a synthesis in his inimitable fashion.

Prof Ahuja was a multi-dimensioned personality. He had deep and abiding interest in the fine arts, travel and cross-cultural aspects of living.

Prof Ahuja was an icon who comes but rarely. We grieve his loss. We have all been graced to the privilege of associating with him.

Dr. G.R. Sridhar


 REMINISCENCES OF A CHARISMATIC PERSONALITY
Dr. M.M.S. Ahuja & RSDDI

Dr. N.C.Panda
Formerly, Professor& Head, Department of Biochemistry,
S.C.B.Medical College, Cuttack
Formerly, Director of Medical Education and Training, Orissa &
Formerly, Additional Secretary to Government of Orissa,
Health & F.W.Department.
 

It was during 1959 - 60 when I was a postgraduate student of Biochemistry in All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. The institute has started just within a few years and I was one among the second batch of postgraduate students. As the faculty was small, there was great deal of interaction among staff and students irrespective of the discipline of them. The institute had its Pre-Clinical and Para-Clinical Blocks, the building for Clinical Block, Outpatient Department and other departments were still under proposal of construction that came up in later period. During my postgraduate period at AIIMS, I came in contact with Dr.M.M.S. Ahuja, who had joined very recently in the Department of Medicine after his return from England with MRCP qualifaication. We came to know each other since then.

To quote Dr G.R. Sridhar from the obituary he has written on Dr. Ahuja in RSSDI News 6 July 1998, "To most of us who knew him it seemed out of plae to even conceive of his personal life such as his birth, training, publication or awards. He was so full of science, medicine, endocrinology and diabetes not just basic science, clinical science or research, but a synthesis of all these in the care of each individual as person, and in the delivery of health care as well. The science of medicine, and in particular, endocrinology and diabetes, was very much a part of him: be it in documenting and extending their frontiers, or in training those who did that- in our country as well as across the seas in all parts of the world".

Dr. Ahuja started RSSDI in the year 1972 to infuse research in the field of diabetes mellitus. He was already the Professor and Head of the Department of Medicine at AIIMS since 1969. In 1974, Dr. Vinod Kumar edited a book entitled Disorders of Carbohydrate Metabolism" from me and "Changing Impact of Genetic and Environmental Influences on Glucose Intolerance in Man" from Dr. B.B. Tripathy, pioneer researcher in medicine in Orissa. Dr. Vinod Kumar also invited a number of articles from the research workers in the country and abroad. Thus it was merging into a homogenisation of various leading scientific information.

In another work entitled Diabetes Mellitus published on behalf of RSSDI during 1977 under editorship of Dr. M. Bhaskar Rao, I wrote on "Biochemical Basis of Diabetes Mellitus" and Dr.B.B Tripathy on "Aetiopathogenesis of Diabetes Mellitus: in addition to a number of articles from authors from all over the nation. Such was the versatility and dedication of Dr. M.M.S Ahuja tobring up the RSSDI through publication of Scientific literature on diabetes mellitus.

In 1982, Dr. Ahuja invited me to deliver National Oration in Annual Conference of RSSDI at Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi and ordained me with a Medallion. After the meeting, I was elected as the President of RSSDI for the year 1982-83 . Next year, it's annual meeting was held at Cuttack along with
Association of Physicians of India. Here, in this conference, Dr.R.N. Chakraverty, Professor of Experimental Medicine, Post Graduate Institute, Chandigarh delivered the oration. Thus it is observed that under RSSDI grew a trend of scientific organisation totally different from most of the Scientific Associations. Scientists from all disciplines of the Medical Colleges with proficiency in research particularly in the field of diabetes mellitus were encouraged under leadership of Dr. Ahuja. He used to encourage the young scientists under the folds of RSSDI. He promoted multicentric studies at different institutions of India. The data, thus obtained, projected scenario at the national level. One such study was: " The multicentric study of the morbidity events in NIDDM located over 9 centres in India" during 1884-90 with S.C.B Medical College as one among these 9 centres. Dr. Ahuja initiated follow up studies in epidemiology of diabetes mellitus during 1990-91 in both rural and urban areas. RSSDI from the very beginning has emphasised on collaborative studies, nutrition and creating Diabetic Foundations for type 1 diabetics and other category of patients.

Earlier the annual meetings of RSSDI used to take place with annual conferences of API. In 1984 it was held in Hyderabad. In 1992, the annual conference of RSSDI was held independently at Puri, Orissa under the chairmanship of Professor (Dr) B.B. Tripathy. It was a very successful meeting. The silver jubilee celebration was held at Chennai on 12 - 14 December 1997 with Prof (Dr.) Sam G.P. Moses on Chair.

This year it is being held in Orissa at Bhubaneswar under chairmanship of Prof B.B. Tripathy. Let God bless this meeting to be quite successful. The coastal plane of Orissa including Bhubaneswar has witnessed the worst unforeseen supercyclone with most pitiable devastation to life and property. The organisation of this conference had, no doubt, been stirred by the supercyclonic events. Of course, resistance gives strength and paves the path towards success.

Dr.N.C.Panda