Test tube baby pioneer conferred DSc posthumously

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Kolkata, Feb 4 (PTI) Dr Subhas Mukhopadhyay, the unsunghero who committed suicide three years after he pioneered thecountry''s first and the world''s second test tube baby in 1978,was today conferred a honorary DSc degree posthumously by theIndian Statistical Institute.

During a programme at the ISI campus here, the Institutedirector Prof Bimal K Roy handed over the Doctor of Sciencedegree to Prof Sunit Mukherjee, a co-worker of the scientistwho was behind the setting up of a reproductive biologyresearch centre on his name.

Mukhopadhyay''s widow Namita, who was to have receivedthe degree, could not attend the programme due to illness.

Sunit Mukherjee, a cryobiologist, and gynaecologist DrSaroj Kanti Bhattacharya, had assisted Mukhopadhyay in the useof the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) technique to create Durga(Kanupriya Agarwal) on October 3, 1978.

However, the achievement of Mukhopadhyay was notrecognised by the then medical fraternity, which saddened himvery much and making him a lonely figure.

To verify his claim, the Government set up a committeethat denounced his achievements. Mukherjee was denied leave towrite up a detailed report of his results and later to attenda meeting in Japan to discuss his work.

As a final act of humiliation, he was transferred toInstitute of Ophthalmology as professor of electrophysiology.

He committed suicide on June 19, 1981, three years afterDurga''s birth.

Durga was born barely 67 days after British scientistRobert G Edwards brought out the world''s first test tube baby.

Edwards was awarded the Nobel prize in medicine for 2010.

It was left to another Indian IVF specialist T C AnandKumar to acknowledge Mukhopadhyay''a achievement in 1996 aftergoing through the notes he had left

After Edwards''s name was announced for the Nobel prize,a professor proposed to ISI''s academic council to considerconferring the honorary degree to Mukhopadhyay for hiscontribution to medical sciences, ISI sources said.

Inspired by Mukhopadhyay''s life and death, film-makerTapan Sinha had made a film, Ek Doctor Ki Maut (Death of adoctor) in 1991.

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