Who was Upendranath Brahmachari?
Rai Bahadur Sir Upendranath Brahmachari was a renowned Indian scientist and a prominent medical practitioner of his era. He had a remarkable personality and his most outstanding research contribution was the discovery of Urea Stibamine, an organic antimonial compound, which played a vital role in the treatment of Kala-azar, a protozoal infection. After gaining a firm foundation in mathematics and chemistry, he decided to study medicine after which he joined the Provincial Medical Service. Later, he was appointed as a teacher at the Campbell Medical School, where he spent the most productive time of his life and performed his groundbreaking research regarding the treatment of Kala-azar. During the years of his service and even after retirement, he remained actively connected to various spheres in the University of Kolkata. He was associated with almost all the known scientific and literary organizations at Kolkata and took a keen interest in humanitarian and cultural activities. He also played a significant role in the formation of the world’s second Blood Bank at Kolkata. He was the founder of Brahmachari Research Institute which became successful in the fields of both research and manufacture of medicine. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and as a teacher and medical practitioner, his contribution to the society is invaluable
Childhood & Early Life
Upendranath Brahmachari was born on December 19, 1873 in Jamalpur, Bihar, to Nilmony Brahmachari, a physician in East Indian Railways, and his wife, Saurabh Sundari Devi.
He received his early education from the Eastern Railways Boys' High School, Jamalpur. Then he attended the Hooghly Mohsin College and obtained a Bachelor’s degree, with honors in Mathematics and Chemistry, in 1893.
Thereafter, he studied Medicine with Higher Chemistry and passed his Master’s degree from the Presidency College, Kolkata, in 1894.
Later, he enrolled at the University of Calcutta from where he earned his MD degree in 1902. In 1904, he earned PhD for his thesis on ‘Haemolysis’.
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In 1899, he started his medical career by joining the Provincial Medical Service where he was appointed a teacher of Pathology and Materia Medica. In 1901, he became a physician in the Dacca Medical School.
In 1905, he became a teacher in Medicine and Physician at the Campbell Medical School, Kolkata. He served there for many years, carrying out most of his research work on Kala-azar and made his monumental discovery of Urea Stibamine.
In 1923, he took the position of Additional Physician in the Medical College Hospital. Around 1924, he founded the ‘Brahmachari Research Institute’ at his own residence in Kolkata.
In 1927, he retired as a physician from the government service. After retirement, he served as the Professor of Tropical Diseases at the Carmichael Medical College, Kolkata.
Later, he served as the Chairman of the Blood Transfusion Service of Bengal. He played a crucial role in establishing the world's second blood bank in Kolkata, in 1939.
He was in charge of Tropical Disease Ward at the National Medical Institute. He also served as the Head of the Department of Biochemistry and an Honorary Professor of Biochemistry at the University College of Science, Kolkata.
He became a Member of the Council of ‘Kolkata School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’, ‘Indian Research Fund Association’, and ‘Zoological Garden’, Kolkata.
He was the first Indian to become the Chairman of the Managing Body of the Indian Red Cross Society of the Bengal Branch.
He made outstanding contributions to medical science, particularly in the treatment of Kala-azar by discovering ‘Urea Stibamine’. It had no painful effects and was an effective substitute for the other antimony-containing compounds in the treatment of the disease.
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He is also notably remembered for his pioneering work in the treatment of dermal leishmaniasis, malaria, the old Burdwan fever, quartan fever, blackwater fever, cerebrospinal meningitis, filariasis, leprosy and syphilis.
Awards & Achievements
He received the distinguished ‘Griffith Memorial Prize’ from the University of Calcutta, and was also honored with the ‘Sir William Jones Medal’ by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
In 1921, he was given the prestigious ‘Minto Medal’ by the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
In 1924, he was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal, 1st Class, by the Governor General Lord Lytton. He also received the title of Rai Bahadur for his diverse works.
In 1929, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in the category of physiology and medicine.
In 1934, he was conferred a Knighthood by the British Government.
He was an Honorary Fellow of State Medical Faculty of Bengal and the International Faculty of Science, London.
He was awarded several fellowships from prestigious institutions such as the Royal Society of Medicine, London, and the National Institute of Sciences, India.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1898, he married Nani Bala Devi and raised a family with her.
He died on February 6, 1946, at the age of 72.