Subhash Mukhopadhyay (physician)

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Subhash Mukherjee
Scientist Dr. Subhas Mukherjee
সুভাষ মুখোপাধ্যায়

(1931-01-16)16 January 1931
Died19 June 1981(1981-06-19) (aged 50) Calcutta, West Bengal, India
EducationCalcutta National Medical College
University of Edinburgh
Known forIn vitro fertilisation
Medical career
InstitutionsNRS Medical College, Kolkata
ResearchAssisted reproductive technology
Reproductive Endocrinology

Subhash Mukherjee (16 January 1931 – 19 June 1981) was an Indian scientist, physician from Hazaribagh, Bihar and Orissa Province, British India (now in Jharkhand, India), who created the world's 2nd and India's first child using in-vitro fertilisation. Kanupriya Agarwal (Durga), who was born in 1978, just 67 days after the first IVF baby in United Kingdom.[1] Afterwards, Dr. Subhash Mukherjee was harassed by the then West Bengal state government and Indian Government are not allowed to share his achievements with the international scientific community.[2] Dejected, he committed suicide on 19 June 1981.[3][4]

His life and death has been the subject of countless newspaper reviews and inspired the Hindi movie Ek Doctor Ki Maut (Death of a physician), directed by Tapan Sinha.[5][6]

Early life[edit]

He was born to a Bengali Brahmin family on 16 January 1931 in Hazaribagh, Bihar and Orissa Province (now in Jharkhand), India. He studied B.Sc. (Hons.) in Physiology (1949) from University of Calcutta . He then studied MBBS (1955) from the Calcutta National Medical College, which was then affiliated with the University of Calcutta.[7] He later earned a Ph.D. (1958) from the Rajabazar Science College campus of University of Calcutta in 'Reproductive Physiology' under the stewardship of Prof. Sachchidananda Banerjee. Later he earned his second Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1967 in 'Reproductive Endocrinology'.


After completing his MBBS from Calcutta National Medical College, he worked as a Lecturer, Reader and Professor of Physiology at NRS Medical College, Kolkata from 1967 to 1975.

He created history when working with Sunit Mukherji, a Cryobiologist and Gynecologist Dr. Saroj Kanti Bhattacharya. He became the first physician in India (and 1st in the world with British physicians Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards) to perform the in vitro fertilisation resulting in a test tube baby "Durga" (alias Kanupriya Agarwal) on 3 October 1978.[8][9][10]

He faced social ostracism, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult instead of recognition from the West Bengal State government,[11][12] and refusal of the Government of India to allow him to attend international conferences.[12] Bengal government had appointed a panel headed by a radiophysicist — with a gynaecologist, a neurophysiologist and a physiologist as members — to examine the claims by Mukerji. The committee members were Dr. Mrinal Kumar Dasgupta, Chairman Radio-Astronomer (Calcutta University), Dhiren Kundu, Nuclear Physicist (Saha Institute), Dr. J C Chatterjee, Gynecologist and Dr. Ajit Maiti, Neurophysiology (Calcutta University).[13] He committed suicide in his Calcutta residence on 19 June 1981 after he was humiliated and insulted by the committee.[5][12][14]

His feat has been given belated recognition as the Indian physician who in 1986 was officially regarded as being the first doctor to perform in-vitro fertilisation in India.

His recognition is attributable to T. C. Anand Kumar who is credited to be the mastermind behind India's second (officially the first) test-tube baby. Kumar came to the conclusion that he was not the first after reviewing Subhash Mukhopadhyay's personal notes. He was ably helped by Sunit Mukherji, who was a one-time colleague of Mukhopadhyay. Kumar was involved in setting up a research institute in reproductive biology in memory of Mukhopadhyay.

A film Ek Doctor Ki Maut directed by Tapan Sinha was made on his life.[5]

Late recognition[edit]

According to scientific records dating from before Mukhopadhyay's eventual recognition, Harsha vardhan reddy buri (born 16 August 1986) was the first human test tube baby of India. The credit for this achievement went to T. C. Anand Kumar, Director of IRR (ICMR).[15] In 1997, Kumar went to Kolkata to participate in a Science Congress. It was there that all the research documents of Mukhopadhyay were handed over to him. After scrutinising and having discussions with Durga's parents, Kumar became certain that it was in fact Mukhopadhyay who was the architect of first human test tube baby in India.[15] This eminent scientist once mentioned in a journal[15] on 'A critique of Mukherjee's technique, 'The brief description given by Mukherjee in his letter dated 19 October 1978 to the Director of Health Services, Government of West Bengal, the reports he gave over the television interviews and reported in the lay press describe how Mukherjee carried out the procedure of in vitro fertilisation.'[15]

On T.C. Anand Kumar's initiative, Mukhopadhyay was mentioned as the architect of the first Indian test tube baby in a document related to the subject of artificial intercourse in ICMR. [citation needed] India's first test tube baby "Durga", whose parental name is Kanupriya Agarwal, works at a multinational company as a marketing executive in Delhi.[15][16] On her 25th birthday, she publicly revealed her identity for the first time in a ceremony organised in the memory of Mukhopadhyay.[16] She spoke about Mukhopadhyay in front of the media, expressing joy that Mukhopadhyay's achievement had been acknowledged by a reputed international publication, the Dictionary of Medical Biography.[16]

The Dictionary of Medical Biography, published by World Foundation, enlists names of 1100 medical scientists from 100 countries around the world for their path breaking contributions to the medical science. Dr. Mukhopadhyay's name is one of those names.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Is an "Indian Crab Syndrome" Impeding Indian Science? Retrieved 20 August 2013
  2. ^ "The doctor behind the first Indian life outside the womb - Financial Express"
  3. ^ "IVF Pioneer Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine". 10 May 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Beautiful Mind: The story of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee creator of India's first test-tube baby - Times of India"
  5. ^ a b c "Subhash Mukhopadhyay - the unlucky doctor behind India's first Test-tube baby". 4 October 2010. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Dr. Subhas Mukhopadhyay: দড়ির সঙ্গে ঝুলছে মৃতদেহ! হটাৎ কোন রহস্যের আঁধারে নিজের প্রাণ দিয়েছিলেন সুভাষ মুখার্জি?". The Bengali Chronicle (in Bengali). 31 July 2022. Retrieved 10 August 2022.
  7. ^ Site on Dr Mukherjee
  8. ^ "India reveals deep frozen test-tube baby", K. S. Jayaraman, New Scientist, 19 Oct 1978
  9. ^ "Test tube triumph & tragedy - Nobel for UK scientist stirs memory of a Bengal doctor". The Telegraph (Calcutta). 5 October 2010. Archived from the original on 8 October 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Medicine Nobel for IVF pioneer". Hindustan Times. 4 October 2010. Archived from the original on 21 October 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Architect of India's first test tube baby: Dr Subhas Mukerji (16 January 1931 to 19 July 1981)", Current SCience, Vol. 72, No.7, 10 April 1997
  12. ^ a b c "Honour fails to cheer doctor's wife". The Times of India. 14 October 2003. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Test tube triumph & tragedy - Nobel for UK scientist stirs memory of a Bengal doctor". Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  14. ^ Pal, Sanchari (19 September 2018). "The Pioneer Of IVF In India Who Was Rewarded With Suicide: Subhash Mukhopadhyay". ED Times | The Youth Blog. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Late honour for test tube pioneer". The Times of India. 8 January 2004. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  16. ^ a b c Ghosh, Aditya (19 August 2005). "It's official: Kanupriya's India's first test-tube girl". DNA. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  17. ^ Infertility of Indian Establishment Retrieved 20 August 2013

External links[edit]