M. S. Valiathan

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Padma Vibhushan
Marthanda Varma Sankaran Valiathan
MB BS, MS, FRCS (England), FRCS (Edin.), FRCPS(C), FRCP( Lon), D.Sc (h.c)
Native name എം.എസ്. വല്യത്താന്‍)
Born (1934-05-24) 24 May 1934 (age 83)
Mavelikara, Kingdom of Travancore
British India
Nationality Indian
Alma mater University of Kerala
University of Liverpool
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Occupation cardio-thoracic surgeon
Parent(s) Marthanda Varma
Janaki Varma

Marthanda Varma Sankaran Valiathan (Malayalam: എം.എസ്. വല്യത്താന്‍; born 24 May 1934) is an Indian cardiac surgeon. He is a former president of the Indian National Science Academy and contributed to the development of medical technology in India.[citation needed] He is currently a National Research Professor of the Government of India, located in Manipal University.[1][2] He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2005. He was made a Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1969 and a Chevalier in the order of Palmes Academiques, an honour bestowed by the French government, in 1999. He received the Dr. Samuel P. Asper International Award from Johns in 2009 for his contributions to international medical education.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born to Marthanda and Janaki Varma in 1934. His early education was at a government school in Mavelikara and then at University College, Trivandrum. Valiathan's medical education began at the University of Kerala, where he did his under graduation from Trivandrum Medical College (1951-1956).[3] He later went to University of Liverpool in Liverpool, England as a surgical trainee and received his fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and England in 1960.[3] After a brief stint as a faculty member at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh he underwent further training in cardiac surgery at the Johns Hopkins, George Washington, and Georgetown University Hospitals, USA.[3] There he worked as Fellow of Doctors Vincent Gott and Charles A. Hufnagel who strongly influenced him and instilled a lifelong interest in biomedical innovation.

With mentor, Dr. Charles Hufnagel

He was also granted a fellowship at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Academic career[edit]

He served on the faculty of the Georgetown University Hospital, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research Chandigarh, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and the Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology. When he headed the Sree Chitra Institute from 1974 to 1994, it was granted the status of an Institution of National Importance by an act of parliament by the central government ( 1980 ). Subsequently, Valiathan became the first Vice-Chancellor of Manipal University.

Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute (1974–1994)[edit]

In 1972, Valiathan returned to India and had difficulty getting a job, when he shortly worked at Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi. Soon after he moved to Indian Institute of Technology Madras and he found that he was teaching but could do no research. Several friends and colleagues, including Dr. Hufnagel believed that he had made a foolish mistake in opting to leave the United States. Unexpectedly he then got an invitation from the Government of Kerala. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Achutha Menon, asked him to develop a hospital for specialities in the new, unoccupied building of Sree Chitra Tirunal Center, Trivandrum, and gave him freedom and authority to develop it. Within 2 years patients were admitted for the treatment of cardiovascular and neurologic diseases, and the development of cardiovascular devices followed. As Sree Chitra grew, it got support from the prime minister Morarji Desai and the institute was notified as "An Institute of National Importance" by an Act of Parliament within five years of Dr.Valiathan joining at its helm. The hospital services started initially, and funds were subsequently obtained to develop biomaterials and medical devices. In 1975, the demand for prosthetic valves was high in the hospital but import was too expensive. The state of Kerala had but one licensed unit which slaughtered less than 200 pigs per month, which made procine valve development unviable. As autopsies were much fewer, homograft valve development was even less viable. Dr. Valiathan and his team then decided to develop a mechanical valve with a tilting-disc design. The Chitra-TTK valve that is currently marketed is the fourth model that was developed over a decade of collaborative effort in India. In the first model, the major and minor struts were electron beam welded and the valve was expected to withstand 360 million cycles of disc movement. Unfortunately, the major strut fractured at the weld after a mere 100,000 cycles due to weld embrittlement. In the second model, the disk was made of single crystal sapphire which was inert and blood compatible. The housing was carved out of a block of titanium. This model failed as well, because of the extensive wear of titanium struts and the escape of the disc. The third model had a housing made of a highly wear – resistant aerospace superalloy, called "Haynes-25", a cobalt based alloy of chromium, nickel and tungsten. This model went through all the tests successfully and several sheep with the implanted valve were alive and well for months until the death of one animal at 3 months after valve implantation. Necropsy showed that the sapphire disc had fractured in the animal. This was a major crisis as critics and media did not spare the team.

Chitra valve development- changing perception of intelligentsia

The fourth model was a success.

TTK- Chitra valve marketed today

More than 75,000 valves have been implanted in patients (till 2012) and over 1200 are being produced monthly. The valves are also being exported to other countries.The multidisciplinary team at the Sree Chitra Institute led by Dr.Valiathan, developed a series of disposable devices such as blood bag, oxygenator and cardiotomy reservoir, and a vascular graft which are in commercial production in several industrial units in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.[4]

Current work[edit]

After twenty years at Sri Chitra, in 1994 Dr.Valiathan became the Vice-Chancellor of the newly set up Manipal University (then MAHE, Manipal Academy of Higher Education), where his wife Dr. Ashima Valiathan was a Professor in the Dental College. Several years earlier, he had the opportunity to give a Founder's Day lecture in memory of Vaidyaratnam P.S. Varier, who pioneered the revival of Ayurveda in the early 20th century at Kottakal, Kerala, where he spoke on Sushruta, the pioneer surgeon of ancient India. Subsequently, he was invited to give the Gandhi Memorial Lecture at the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore, where he spoke on Charaka – whose classic of the 1st century A.D.remains the foundational text of Ayurveda even today. After laying down office as Vice-Chancellor in 1999, he was awarded a Senior Fellowship by the Homi Bhabha Council to pursue a study of Charaka, which culminated in a book called the "Legacy of Charaka".

In an interview, Dr. Valiathan said, "At this time there is no common ground where physicists, chemists, immunologists and molecular biologists can interact with Ayurvedic physicians. Ayurveda is not only the mother of medicine but also of all life sciences in India. In spite of it, science has been completely divorced from Ayurveda... But these are the interdisciplinary areas where advances will take place."[4] Earlier in another article, he had written, "To ignore the testimony of thousands of patients over many decades is reminiscent of the derisive attitude of Edward Jenner's contemporaries in Gloucestershire who despised the claim of milkmaids that cow pox gave them protection from small pox! When Jenner wrote to his mentor John Hunter on the observed facts and the arguments against it, Hunter gave his famous reply, "Why think? Why not experiment?". That applies to Ayurveda whose time to experiment has arrived.[5]

Currently, Dr. Valiathan is engaged in promoting research in basic science, based on cues from Ayurvedic concepts and procedures. The research in prominent institutes is being supported by government funding in the form of "A Science Initiative in Ayurveda" (ASIIA). In his report, during the seventeenth meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) in 2009, under the Chairmanship of Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Dr.Valiathan lauded the support of the Indian government while presenting an update on ongoing projects.[6] ASIIA made good progress and has been taken over by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, for regular support under a "Task Force in Ayurvedic Biology", which appears on the DST website. He has given a course of video lectures on ` The Ayurvedic Inheritance of India ' under the NPTEL programme of the IITs of India ( http://www.nptel.iitm.ac.in)

Awards and honours[edit]

As a Homi Bhabha Senior Fellow and a student of Sanskrit, he carried out a study of the "Charaka Samhita", which was published by Orient Longman in 2003 as "The Legacy of Charaka". The companion volumes on the Legacies of "The Great Three" of Ayurveda – Suśruta and Vagbhata – were released by the same publisher in 2006 and 2009. A new book "An Introduction to Ayurveda" has been released by the same publisher in 2013.

Dr.Valiathan's contributions to medical sciences and technology have brought him many honours and awards such as the Fellowships of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy, National Academy of Sciences, India, National Academy of Medical Sciences, Indian National Academy of Engineering, Third World Academy of Sciences, American College of Cardiology, the Royal College of Physicians of London and the International Union of Societies of Biomaterials and Engineering. He is a Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and a Senior Member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons of the United States and the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain. The French Government has honoured him by making him a Chevalier in the order of Palmes Academiques. He is a recipient of many Awards for Science, Technology and Education, which include the R.D. Birla Award, O.P. Bhasin Award, Jawaharlal Nehru Award, Dhanwantari Prize, Aryabhata medal, Basanti Devi Amirchand Prize, J.C. Bose medal, Kerala State Science and Technology Award, B.C. Guha Award, Pinnamaneni Foundation Award, Sat Pal Mittal Award, G.M. Modi Award, M. V. Pylee Award, and H.K. Firodia Award. He received the Dr. Samuel P. Asper International Award from the Johns Hopkins University, USA for his contributions to medical education.


Professor Valiathan served on numerous Government committees and academic councils which pertain to education, medicine, science and technology. These include, among many others, the University Grants Commission, Indian Council of Medical Research, Science and Engineering Research Council of the DST, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and the Science Advisory Committee to the Cabinet. He was the Chairman of the Committee on Bioethics of the Indian Council of Medical Research and was previously the Chairman of the State Committee for Science, Technology and Environment of the Government of Kerala. He is a past President of the Association of Indian Universities.

Valiathan has received numerous honorary degrees, fellowships and awards


  • Valiathan, M. S. (1993). Endomyocardial Fibrosis. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-563237-8. 
  • Valiathan, M. S. (2003). The Legacy of Caraka. Orient Longman. ISBN 81-250-2505-7. 
  • Valiathan, M. S. (2005). Charakapaithrikam. (Tr. into Malayalam of Legacy of Caraka). DC Books. ISBN 81-264-1072-8. 
  • Valiathan, M. S. (2007). The Legacy of Susruta (Tr. into Malayalam of Legacy of Susruta by Dr. K. Muthulakshmy). Orient Longman. ISBN 81-250-3150-2. 
  • Valiathan, M. S. (2010). Susrutha Paithrukam.(Tr. into Malayalam of Legacy of Susruta). DC Books. ISBN 81-264-2527-X. 
  • Valiathan, M. S. (2010). The Legacy of Vagbhata. Universities Press. ISBN 81-737-1668-4. 
  • Valiathan, M. S. (2012). An Introduction to Ayurveda. Universities Press. ISBN 978-81-7371-827-4. 
  • Valiathan,M S.( 2012).Vagbhatapaithrukam.( Tr.into Malayalam of Legacy of Vagbhata).DCBooks.ISBN 978-81-264-3890-7



  1. ^ "Engineering (BTech,MTech), Medical (MBBS,MD,MS), Dental (BDS,MDS) Courses | Admissions 2017 - Manipal University". manipal.edu. Retrieved 2016-11-26. 
  2. ^ Valiathan, MS (2008). "A Surgeon's Quest". J Biosci. 33 (000-000). 
  3. ^ a b c http://doctor.ndtv.com/expert/ndtv/expertid/20/MS_Valiathan.html
  4. ^ a b Yadugiri, VT (2010). "The evolution of a surgeon and innovator: M.S.Valiathan". Current Science. 99 (7). 
  5. ^ Valiathan, MS (2010). Thatte, U, ed. "Ayurveda: The time to experiment". Int J Ayurveda Res. 1 (1): 3. 
  6. ^ "Summary Record of Discussion of the Seventeenth Meeting of Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) held on 22 April 2009, at New Delhi" (PDF). 
  7. ^ "Padma Vibhushan for J.N. Dixit, R.K. Laxman". The Hindu. 26 January 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  8. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.