b.10 April 1908 d.8 July 1991
MB BS Lucknow(1932) MD(l934) MRCP(1938)FRCPath(1962) FRCP(1963)
Prem Nath Wahi was born at Moradabad, Uttar Pradash, India, where his father was a lawyer. He received his early schooling in Moradabad and then entered King George’s Medical College, Lucknow, where he qualified in 1932. His long and distinguished career in pathology started in Agra when he joined the S N Medical College in 1935. He rapidly rose to become professor and head of the department of pathology in 1941, and was subsequently principal of the College in 1960. From 1968-69 he was vice-chancellor of Agra University and in 1969 he was appointed director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. During his time as director-general he created several new institutes and the five technical divisions in the ICMR headquarters, and also gave a new direction to biomedical research. After his retirement from the ICMR in 1974 he was appointed emeritus consultant pathologist at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, a post he held until 1984.
Medical education was very close to Wahi’s heart. He was an outstanding teacher and trained a large number of students many of whom later became eminent pathologists. He was also an able administrator, endowed with a broad vision in the field of medical research.
He published over 300 scientific papers and books and was tireless in his efiorts to elevate the standard of medical education in India, serving on various committees both in India and abroad.
His career spanned more than four decades and greatly contributed to the growth and development of medical sciences and research in India. His pioneering contributions to cancer research led to vital leads which were later incorporated into India’s national cancer control programmes.
Wahi received many honours, among them the Platinum Jubilee Award of the Indian Medical Association (1973) and the B C Royal National Award (1984). He was elected a Fellow of the College in 1963. He was a founder fellow (1962) of the Royal College of Pathologists, London; a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi; a fellow of the International Academy of Cytologists, and a founder fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. The Government of India conferred the title Padma Bhushan on him in 1970 in recognition of his services to medical sciences.
Prem Nath Wahi married Krishan Kumari, daughter of Devi Charan, in 1928 and they had four children, a son and three daughters.
He was a man of uncompromising integrity, a true scientist and scholar, with a warm and humane personality which won the respect of all who came into contact with him. He was also a true patriot who always kept his country’s interests in mind in international collaboration.
Usha K Luthra
[Indian J. med Res(B),94,Aug 1991,pp iii-iv]
(Volume IX, page 546)
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