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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 65-66

Dr . T. D. Chugh: A tribute to an inspiring mentor

Retired Additional Director, National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, India

Date of Submission22-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance29-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication19-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. R L Ichhpujani
137 First Floor, Anand Vihar, Pitampura, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmrp.cmrp_16_21

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How to cite this article:
Ichhpujani R L. Dr . T. D. Chugh: A tribute to an inspiring mentor. Curr Med Res Pract 2021;11:65-6

How to cite this URL:
Ichhpujani R L. Dr . T. D. Chugh: A tribute to an inspiring mentor. Curr Med Res Pract [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 2];11:65-6. Available from: http://www.cmrpjournal.org/text.asp?2021/11/1/65/309913

Dr. Tulsi Das Chugh was born in Kahror Pacca, Multan (now in Pakistan) on 15 May 1934 in a family with modest means. He had one elder sister and five younger brothers. He started his schooling in Kahror Pacca, but during the partition, the family had to migrate to a camp settlement in Ludhiana. During that fateful train journey from Pakistan to India in 1947, he almost got separated from the rest of his family as he got down at a station to fetch water and the train sped away. With great difficulty and risk, he could run and enter back into the train. While at the refugee camp in Ludhiana, he voluntarily extended his help to the camp inmates. His father was an employee in Indian Railways. In 1948, the family shifted to Bhiwani from the Ludhiana refugee camp. He completed his rest of schooling from Bhiwani from very modest school and trying family conditions. He completed FSc from Ambala and became eligible to join Medical College Amritsar in the year 1951. Meanwhile, his father was transferred to Solan in 1949 and had limited resources to support his family and higher education of his eldest son. Dr. Chugh pleaded with his father to at least send him to an Ayurvedic College if MBBS education was unaffordable. After great family discussion and with the blessings of his grandmother (NANI), his father permitted him to join MBBS at Amritsar with the promise that he would support his younger brothers for the rest of his life, since he would be investing all his savings for his education. Dr. Chugh agreed to this and kept his promise of supporting his brothers in all possible ways till the very last day. He passed his MBBS in 1956 and joined MS (Ophthalmology) for a short time but later switched over to join MD (Pathology) on the advice of his mentors Prof. N. L. Chitkara and Prof. P. N. Chuttani. He graduated and post-graduated from Medical College Amritsar. He started his academic and professional carrier in Amritsar in 1958 and moved to the Pathology Department at Medical College Rohtak in 1966 when the state of erstwhile undivided Punjab divided into Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab states. In 1972, when on the administrative requirement, a new Department of Microbiology was carved out of Pathology Department, he was the founding professor of the new Department of Medical Microbiology and established post-graduate programmes-MD, M. Sc. and Ph. D. In 1979, he moved to Kuwait as Professor of Microbiology and established a Department of Medical Microbiology in the young Faculty of Medicine. He was interviewed for a week in Kuwait for this position and had to face a tough competition from international contestants. He served for about 25 years (1979–2004) in Kuwait except for a gap of couple of years following the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1990. Fortunately, during the invasion of Kuwait, he along with his wife was away to the USA for attending a conference. He came back to India from the USA. Amongst the losses at Kuwait during the war was his pet dog LUCY and he was sad for a long time over this loss. When things settled down in Kuwait after the war, the Health Minister of Kuwait personally rang him and requested him to return and re-establish the department.

Raj Raghupathy PhD, FRCPath, Professor of Immunology and Consultant Immunologist Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University has this to say about him ‘In Kuwait, Professor Chugh played extremely significant roles in several spheres; teaching and training, clinical services, research and institution building He was a passionate and enthusiastic teacher. He was constantly on the lookout for newer techniques, better methods and more accurate results. He was a true ‘catalyst’ because he brought together basic scientists and clinicians so that they could collaborate on research projects of mutual interest. In terms of institution building, Prof. Chugh was par excellence. As a leader, Prof. Chugh was demanding and firm; he expected his staff to be punctual, hardworking and committed. But the beauty was that he never expected from others what he himself did not do; he was often the first one to show up at work, took only a few minutes to have a quick working lunch (during which he would meet with colleagues) and often worked on weekends as well. Professor T. D. Chugh was not just a great academician, but a truly ‘good’ human being.'

Prof. T. D. Chugh during his long academic carrier had taught, trained and mentored undergraduate and post-graduate students both in India and abroad. He was a gifted teacher, having been adjudged as the best teacher by his students and peers repeatedly. When he was adjudged as Best Teacher by students for 4 consecutive years at Kuwait, he requested the authorities not to consider his name for this award from next year onwards. As a biomedical scientist, he had published 300 research papers in national and international journals and made some landmark studies. Colicine production of Klebsiella was described on an autotransferable plasmid first time in the world literature. Also, his comprehensive studies on the pathogenesis of infective endocarditis showed for the first time in the world that the adhesin of Staphylococcus epidermidis is lipoteichoic acid. He had done comprehensive studies on the diagnosis of tuberculosis by detection of antibodies, antigens and PCR. Studies on the efficacy of BCG vaccination and Mycobacterium vaccae vaccine as an immunotherapeutic agent were made in tubercular patients. Serotyping, biotyping and bacteriocin typing were used as epidemiological markers for Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in studies of nosocomial infections.

His scientific work has been acknowledged in India. He was a Fellow of National Academy of Medical Sciences and International Medical Sciences Academy. He was awarded Gen. Amir Chand Oration (2005), Professor K. L. Wig Oration (2005), Dr. S. C. Khandpur Oration (2009) and University Knowledge Oration in Pt. B. D. Sharma University of Health Sciences, Rohtak (2010). His work has been acknowledged by the International Community and awarded Fellowships of The Royal College of Pathologists in 1987 and the American Academy of Microbiology (1995). Kuwait University honoured him with the ‘Best Funded Research Award’ in 2000 and ‘Distinguished Research Performance Award’ in 2001. He was an invited Faculty Member to several WHO Inter-country Workshops and a Visiting Professor to Centres of Excellence. He was invited to lecture in AIIMS, Jodhpur (2013, 2014), AIIMS, Raipur (2014), CSMM, Lucknow (2011) and various other universities and annual meetings of professional bodies.

He was Chairman and Senior Consultant Microbiology Laboratories, Dr. B. L. Kapur Memorial Hospital, Pusa Road, New Delhi (2007–2012), Advisor, Communicable Diseases, ICMR, Headquarters, New Delhi and Medical Council of India. He was a National Emeritus Professor of Microbiology. He loved travelling and visiting places of tourists’ interest and also tasting the local cuisines.

Dr. Tulsi Das Chugh Award: is instituted by Dr. T. D. Chugh, FAMS in the year 2018 for the best published work in the field of Infectious diseases which may include epidemiology, translational studies of pathogenesis, clinical developments of modalities of prevention, control and treatment by a biomedical scientist. The award will be in the form of a Bronze Medal and Cash Prize.

Unfortunately, he succumbed to COVID and post-COVID complications on 31 December 2020 for which he had to be admitted in BL Kapur Hospital for a total of 79 days. He is survived by his wife Sarla, two sons Rajiv and Sandeep their wives Vineeta and Pooja respectively, four grandchildren and one great grandchild.

He has left behind a wealth of trained manpower to carry forward his legacy. May God rest his soul in peace.

-R L Ichhpujani, MD, MPH (his student)


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