Ashima Anand studied in Delhi University for her BSc (1969) and MSc (1971) degrees. An overpowering interest in studying altitude-related cardiovascular control mechanisms brought her to the Physiology Department of Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute from where she obtained her PhD (1978) under the supervision of Professor (late) AS Paintal. Learning of certain techniques and other collaborative work took her to Oxford on an MRC grant (1977); to the School of Hygiene, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore on a Francis B Parker Fellowship (1978); to the Max-Planck Institute of Systemphysiologie, Dortmund on a Max-Planck Fellowship (1980) and to the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute (1997 and 2006).
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Anand's initial work on mechanisms of initiation of nerve impulses at various sensory receptor sites established that the natural stimulus of aortic chemoreceptors, responsive to hypoxia, was not arterial (partial pressure) of oxygen or, paO2 but local tissue tpO2, with the latter being determined by prevailing blood pressure and influenced by sympathetic outflow.
Amongst her other findings, was the stimulation of aortic chemoreceptors by nicotine absorbed into arterial blood from inhaled cigarette smoke with a concomitant rise in systemic blood pressure that indicated that these receptors contribute to hypertension following smoking.
Her subsequent findings have a direct bearing on understanding the neurological basis of respiratory acceleration and respiratory sensations - the two leading symptoms of cardiopulmonary diseases and which also impair physical activity at high altitude.
Dr Anand's recent pursuits have been to combine physiology with clinical sciences. These continue to be conducted with Cardiologists at AIIMS in order to identify the origin of neural pathways or mechanisms underlying exertional breathlessness with exercise of patients with various congenital heart diseases with a view to alleviating their dyspnoeic distress and that of patients with other cardio respiratory diseases.
Other Contributions: For over a decade she has been promoting, presenting, exchanging ideas and information about responsible conduct of research and its archiving. She continues to be a Member of the Committee on Ethics of the International Union of Physiological Sciences (IUPS) and has served a six-year membership term on ICSU's Committee of Freedom & Responsibility in Science. She helped set up collaborative research projects successfully with the Medical School in Shiraz (Iran). She was a member of INSA Council (2005-07).
Awards and Honours: Dr Anand was honoured with INSA Medal for Young Scientists (1982), Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture by INSA (2004), Platinum Jubilee Lecturer of Indian Science Congress Association (1999), PB Sen Memorial Oration by Physiological Society of India (1999), Kshanika Award by Indian Council of Medical Research (2002), Sir Sri Ram Oration by National Academy of Medical Sciences (I) (2003) and KN Seneviratne Memorial Oration by Sri Lankan Physiological Society (2004).