Ram Behari Lal obtained his MBBS (1919) degree from Panjab University, Lahore specializing in epidemiology. He served as the Assistant Epidemiologist (1926-28), Epidemiologist (1928-34), Government of Punjab; Professor of Epidemiology and Vital Statistics (1934-55) and Officiating Director (1935-39), All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata.
Academic and Research Achievements: Lal was one of the pioneer epidemiologists in India. His researches on epidemiological problems were concerned with epidemic dropsy, cholera; plague, tuberculosis, malaria, relapsing fever, cerebrospinal fever, and ankylostomiasis (hookworm disease). He established that an adulterant, Argemone mexicana seed, looking almost like mustard seed and accidentally or willfully introduced in mustard oil, is responsible for the toxic action causing epidemic dropsy. He showed, on epidemiological grounds, that plague is not transferred through fleas. Lal carried out extensive field investigations between 1934 and 1938 and obtained epidemiological and bacteriological evidence for the existence of cholera carrier in human population.
Other Contributions: Lal served on the governing bodies, and research and advisory committees of Indian Research Fund Association, ICMR, Indian Medical Association, etc. He served as associate editor of Indian Journal of Medical Science and Culture and collaborating editor of Science and Culture. He was Member, INSA Council.
Awards and Honours: Lal received the Minot Medal (1950). He was the Fellow of Asiatic Society (Calcutta) and Indian Medical Association.