Vulimiri Ramalingaswami received MD (1946) from Andhra University, and DPhil (1951) and DSc (1967) both from University of Oxford, UK. He also received DSc (hc) from Karolinska Institute, Sweden. He remained Professor of Pathology (1957-79) and Director (1969-79), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi; Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); and Professor Emeritus, Department of Pathology, AIIMS.
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Ramalingaswami described the syndrome of protein-energy malnutrition in young growing children and elucidated its pathology and pathogenesis. He reproduced the human disease in the non-human primate model and studied the pathophysiology of this form of malnutrition, including its effect upon immunological reactivity and cell proliferation kinetics. He identified the aetiology of Himalayan endemic goitre and demonstrated its prevention by the use of iodated salt in Kangra valley. He described the essential pathology of the liver in Indian childhood cirrhosis and identified a new syndrome of portal hypertension masquerading as cirrhosis of the liver but with better prognosis and discovered its essential pathology. Along with Nayak, he made extensive studies on viral hepatitis beginning with the ten years follow up of the victims of a very large epidemic of jaundice which occurred in 1955-56 in Delhi. Over the years, they established its etology to hepatitis E-virus. Later still, they demonstrated the relationship of chronic HBV to primary hepatocellular carcinoma. For his contribution to liver diseases, Dr Ramalingaswami was invited to be a member of expert committees and special study group of WHO and International Union Against Cancer. He identified the major aetiological factors of nutritional anaemia in preventing nutritional anaemia in pregnancy. Iron deficiency was found to be the most important cause of anaemia in pregnant women. He also simultaneously studied the pathogenetic mechanism involved. The lead to National Nutritional Anaemia control Programme of Government of India.
Other Contributions: Professor Ramalingaswami made notable contributions to the reorientation of medical education to suit the health-needs of developing countries engaged in research strategies to promote “Health for All” by the year AD 2000. He was Member of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, International Academy of Pathology, USA, Nutrition Society of Great Britain; Indian Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists, and Indian Association for the Advancement of Medical Education.
Awards and Honours: Notable awards won by Ramalingaswami are: Watumull Award (1962); SS Bhatnagar Prize (1965); Basanti Devi Amirchand Prize by ICMR (1966); JC Bose Medal by INSA (1977); Silver Jubilee Research Award by Leon Bernard Foundation-WHO (1978); and RD Birla National Award (1980). He also won Health Clark Lecture Award by University of London (1972); Searle Lecture Award by American Association for the Study of Liver (1974); Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture Award (1975); Jaque Parisot Lecture Award by WHO (1975); JC Bose Memorial Lecture Award (1978); and Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture Award (1980). He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London; Royal College of Physicians, London; Royal College of Pathologists, London; Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA; and President, INSA (1979-80).