Dr.Y.Subbarao Oct15

Dr.Y.Subbarao

Our number one contender probably came as a surprise to many of you, who would have been sitting and trying to figure out which of your favorite Indian docs stole number 1 over the previous four. (Note: Sorry, we don’t consider Deepak Chopra as a proper doctor, not that a wellbeing center would have landed him on this list anyway). Graduating from Madras Medical College and Harvard University,Dr. YellapradaSubbarao is the only one on the list who’s been mentioned in a book written by another on this list, as Siddhartha Mukherjee points out: “Any one of these achievements should have been enough to guarantee him a professorship at Harvard. But Subbarao was a foreigner, a reclusive, nocturnal, heavily accented vegetarian who lived in a one-room apartment downtown, befriended only by other nocturnal recluses.”   These achievements include the discovery of one of the first anti-cancer agents, aminopterin (the precursor of the drug that haunts all pharmacology students – methotrexate) for which he was mentioned in Mukherjee’s novel; along with the discovery of the importance of one of the most critical compounds to living beings – ATP (Yes, an Indian discovered the first super long scientific word you learned). In one of the most cited scientific papers of all time, he was mentioned by his colleague- the legendary Sidney Farber, as a key member in the early fight against cancer. (Do read the chapter in “The Emperor of All Maladies” on Subbarao and Farber. Heck, just read the entire book.)   At a time when it is every Indian’s dream to pursue higher education in America, it’s also been one of the toughest decades since Subbarao’s time for achieving that objective. In the face of stricter immigration and the hounding problem of racial selectivity, we...