Lives of the fellows

Tapan Kumar Sarkar

b.3 February 1934 d.15 May 1999
MB BS Calcutta(1960) MRCP(1969) FACCP(1972) FACP(1974) FRCP(1997)

Tapan Sarkar was a physician, philanthropist and a founder of the international charity, Street Children International. He was born and raised in Howrah, India, a suburb just outside Calcutta. The son of a physician, Sarkar graduated from Calcutta University and then entered the medical college, graduating in 1960. From 1961 to 1969 he lived in the UK, serving in a variety of posts. Sarkar received his MRCP in 1969.

In August of 1969, Sarkar married Maya Bose, a physician from Calcutta, and moved with her to the United States, having accepted an appointment as a senior fellow (pulmonary) at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Wood, Wisconsin. In 1970, they moved to New York, where they had two sons, Saibal and Saurav, and, with the exception of one year, lived there until his death.

Sarkar spent most of his career at the Hospital for Joint Disease and Medical Center - North General Hospital in New York. Sarkar was the chief of pulmonary medicine from 1974 to 1995, and associate director of medicine from 1981 to 1994. He was also director of AIDS services and director of the intensive care unit for several years.

Sarkar was made a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians in 1972, fellow of the American College of Physicians in 1974, and a Fellow of this College in 1997. He was also an associate professor of medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, starting in 1983.

In the midst of his busy schedule dealing with delivery of quality patient care Sarkar was a recognised academician, well sought after by his students and peers and involved in clinical research. He managed to publish many original articles in several peer-reviewed journals.

Sarakar never forgot his roots, proudly telling anyone who would listen that he was from Howrah, India. It was in his character, then, that in New York he was involved in a variety of organizations of expatriate Bengalis, including the Cultural Association of Bengal (CAB) and the Milani Cultural Association. Sarkar had served as president of both organizations, reflecting his populairty and effective leadership among the Bengali community of New York. As a leader of the CAB, he imagined a Biswa Banga Sammelan, or a gathering of Bengalis from around the world, in Calcutta. His dream was realised, in part due to the groundwork he laid prior to his demise. He was also a life member and one-time vice-president of the Association of Indians in America.

Finally, Sarkar used his boundless energies and personal skills to conceive of and provide the impetus for the creation of Street Children International, in 1987. In the past twelve years, the organization has contributed to a number of projects around the world, including the establishment of a school for deaf and mute children just outside Calcutta, and support for the Hale House in New York.

Whether in medicine, philanthropy, or culture, Tapan Sarkar exhibited the same combination of leadersip, personality, selflessness and tenacity to ensure that neither his efforts nor those of others were wasted.

Saurav Sarkar

(Volume XI, page 499)

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