Lives of the fellows

Rustom Jal Vakil

b.17 July 1911 d.20 November 1974
MRCS LRCP(1934) MB BS Lond(1934) MRCP(1936) FRFPS Glasg(1937) MD(1937) DTMH(1938) FRCP(1960)

Rustom Jai Vakil, the son of Dr. Jai Rustom Vakil, was born in Bombay. His father was a distinguished medical practitioner. His paternal uncle, D. Jamshed Rustom Vakil, was another eminent physician in the family. He had his early education at the Bharda New High School, Elphinstone College and the Royal Institute of Science, Bombay. In 1928 he went for medical studies to England, and joined St. Thomas’s Hospital, London where he had a very successful career. He was the recipient of many medals, prizes and scholarships, including the following from the University of London: the Solly medal and prize, the Mead medal, and the Wainwright and Tollar medal.

At St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, he came under the influence of eminent cardiologists like Sir John Parkinson, Sir Maurice Cassidy, and Paul Wood. After qualifying, he held the following appointments in England (1934-38): clinical assistant in the Children’s Department at St. Thomas’s Hospital, casualty officer and resident anaesthetist, St. Thomas’s, clinical assistant in the Medical Unit, St. Bartholomew’s, clinical assistant in the Medical Unit, Guy’s Hospital, house surgeon and first assistant to the Heart Hospital, Liverpool.

Rustom Jai Vakil held important medical appointments in India. He was honorary consulting physician to King Edward Memorial Hospital, Bombay, and a visiting cardiologist to Sir Nanavaty Hospital, Bombay, the Sir J.J. Group of Hospitals, the Bombay Hospital, the Parsee General Hospital, and the J.R. Railway Hospital. He was lecturer in medicine and cardiology to the Seth G.S. Medical College and Grant Medical College, Bombay.

Dr. Vakil was the Governor of the Western India Chapter of the American College of Chest Physicians, Co-Director of the All India Heart Foundation, Past President of the Cardiological Society of India, Past President of the Bombay Medical Union, Patron of the Society for the Prevention of Heart Disease, Bombay, and a Trustee of the Wadia Institute of Cardiology, Poona.

He was an elected Fellow of many international and national scientific bodies, including the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Chest Physicians, the American College of Physicians and the National Academy of Sciences of India.

He was on the editorial Boards of a number of medical journals and examiner in medicine in a number of universities.

His one great contribution was the introduction for the first time of the ancient Indian drug Rauwolfia serpentina to the Western World in 1949 for the treatment of hypertension, after ten years of careful study. It was published in the British Heart Journal for October 1949.

He was the first Asian to receive the International Albert Laskar Award for Medical Research, on 14th November 1957. The citation of the Award was ‘for brilliant systematic studies on Rauwolfia in hypertension, bridging the gap between the Indian experience and that of Western medicine’. His other numerous awards include the Padma Bhushan by the President of India on 26th January 1958 for medicine; the first Dr. B.C. Roy Award of the Indian Medical Council ‘for promoting the speciality of cardiology in India’; the Shanti Swarap Bhatnagar Award of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for "outstanding contributions to cardiology", and the first Dhanwantiri Award in 1973 for being the most outstanding medical man of the year in India.

The highest honour bestowed on Dr. Vakil was on 28th September 1974, when the Governor of Maharashtra inaugurated at the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Bombay, ‘The Doctor Rustom Jai Vakil Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre'.

On 15th July 1968 he married Jerco Shapur Madon. They had no children.

SL Bhatia

(Volume VI, page 441)

<< Back to List