Indian-origin professor awarded Fulbright-Nehru fellowship

Houston, June 1: An Indian-origin professor has been awarded the Fulbright-Nehru fellowship for Academic and Professional Experience to teach immuno nutrition and functional foods in medical institutions across India.

On his Fulbright fellowship, Anil Kulkarni will work with four universities in India: Sikkim Manipal University Institute of Medical Sciences, Amrita University Institute of Medical Sciences in Kochi, Deccan Education Society affiliated Pune' University and its Fergusson College, and Haffkine Institute in Mumbai affiliated with the University of Mumbai. Kulkarni is a professor in the Department of Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School.

He moved to the United States in 1970 to pursue his education and career, joined the UTHealth Medical School faculty in 1999. Immunonutrition refers to the study of the effects of nutrients including macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements on inflammation, the actions of white blood cells, the formation of antibodies, and the resistance to disease.

"Immunonutrition may be a modern term, but through the ages humans and animals have learned how to maintain and restore good health by modifying food intake that could enhance the body's defence system," Kulkarni explained.

"The Fulbright fellowship will allow me to teach the discipline in various academic institutions of higher and medical institutions in India and learn more about the state of medical education in this field in India. I will then be able to write and improvise a course curriculum for this neglected and ignored field in US medical schools and health science centers," he explained.

Kulkarni said he first became aware of the impact of health and disease on society as a young boy growing up in rural India. Kulkarni said India is ripe for study and educational opportunity in this field.

"Because of the social and economic inequality in India, public health issues vary widely. The country faces numerous problems arising from poverty; such as malnourishment and infectious diseases, as well as problems in the wealthy; such as, increased incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases," he said.

"In the last decade or so India has experienced extraordinary economic growth which has had an alarming impact on the rates of lifestyle diseases; such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and cancer. In the next decade, lifestyle diseases are expected to grow at a faster rate than infectious diseases in India."

As part of his fellowship, one of his goals back home in Houston will be to establish the Center of ImmunonUTrition, which will feature the development of basic and translational curriculum in these specific areas. "This will be first of its kind organisation in the world," Kulkarni said.


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