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19 December 1873|
Jamalpur, Bihar, British India
|Died||6 February 1946(aged 72)|
|Residence||Calcutta, Bengal, British India|
|Alma mater||University of Calcutta|
|Known for||Urea stibamine, the medicine for Kala-azar|
Rai Bahadur Sir Upendranath Brahmachari (Bengali: উপেন্দ্রনাথ ব্রহ্মচারী) (19 December 1873 – 6 February 1946) was an Indian scientist and a leading medical practitioner of his time. He synthesised Urea Stibamine (carbostibamide) in 1922 and determined that it was an effective substitute for the other antimony-containing compounds in the treatment of Kala-azar (Visceral leishmaniasis) which is caused by a protozoon, Leishmania donovani.
His discovery led to the saving of thousands of lives in India, particularly in the erstwhile province of Assam, where several villages were completely depopulated by the devastating disease. The achievement of Brahmachari was a milestone in successful application of science in medical treatment in the years before arrival of antibiotics, when there were few specific drugs, including quinine for malaria, iron for anaemia, digitalis for heart diseases and arsenic compounds for syphilis. Most other ailments were treated symptomatically by palliative methods. Urea Stibamine was thus a significant addition to the arsenal of specific medicines.
Upendranath Brahmachari was born on 19 December 1873 in Sardanga village near Purbasthali, District Burdwan of West Bengal, India. His father Nilmony Brahmachari was a physician in East Indian Railways. His mother's name was Saurabh Sundari Devi. He completed his early education from Eastern Railways Boys' High School, Jamalpur. In 1893, he passed BA degree from Hooghly Mohsin College with honours in Mathematics and Chemistry. Thereafter he went to study Medicine with Higher Chemistry. He passed his master's degree in 1894 from the Presidency College, Kolkata. In M.B. Examination of 1900 of the University of Calcutta, he stood first in Medicine and in Surgery for which he received Goodeve and Macleod awards. He obtained his MD degree in 1902, and was awarded a PhD degree in 1904, for his research paper on "Studies in Haemolysis" both from the University of Calcutta. In 1898, he married Nani Bala Devi.
Brahmachari joined the Provincial Medical Service in September 1899 and appointed as a teacher of Pathology and Materia Medica, and physician in the Dacca Medical School in 1901. In 1905, he was appointed as a teacher in Medicine and Physician at the Campbell Medical School(Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital), Calcutta, where he carried out most of his work on Kala-azar and made his monumental discovery of Urea Stibamine. In 1923, he joined as Additional Physician in the Medical College Hospital. He retired from the government service as a physician in 1927. After retirement from the government service Brahmachari joined the Carmichael Medical College in Kolkata as Professor of Tropical Diseases. He also served the National Medical Institute, in charge of its Tropical Disease Ward. He was also the Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Honorary Professor of Biochemistry at the University College of Science, Calcutta.
Around 1924, Brahmachari established the Brahmachari Research Institute in his own residence in Cornwallis Street (Vidhan Sarani), Kolkata. This institute was later converted into a Partnership concern with his sons Phanindra Nath and Nirmal Kumar. Under his guidance this Institute did quite well both in the fields of research and manufacture of medicine. The institute stopped functioning in 1963.
Brahmachari played an important part in the formation of the world's second Blood Bank in Kolkata in 1939. He was the Chairman of the Blood Transfusion Service of Bengal. He was the Vice-President of the St. John Ambulance Association of the Bengal branch and also its President. He was the first Indian to become the Chairman of the Managing Body of the Indian Red Cross Society of the Bengal Branch. He generously contributed to the High School in Purbasthali (in Bardhaman district) near his ancestral house. The school was later renamed the Purbasthali Nilmony Brahmachari Institution.
Awards and honours
For his achievements, he received many awards, including the Griffith Memorial Prize of the University of Calcutta, the Minto Medal by the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (1921) and the Sir William Jones Medal by the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
He was awarded the title of Rai Bahadur and awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal, 1st Class by the Governor General Lord Lytton (1924), In 1934, he was conferred a Knighthood by the British Government (1934)
Brahmachari was a nominee for the Nobel Prize in 1929 in the category of physiology and medicine. He was president of the 23rd session of the Indian Science Congress in Indore (1936). He was the President of the Indian Chemical Society, Calcutta (1936). He was honoured with the fellowships of the Royal Society of Medicine, London and the Indian National Science Academy as well as the President of the Asiatic Society of Bengal for two years (1928–29). He was also the Vice-chairman of the board of Trustees of the Indian Museum.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation renamed Loudon Street the Dr. U.N. Brahmachari Street.
Some of his important works are:
- Studies in Haemolysis, University of Calcutta, 1909.
- Kala-Azar : Its treatment, Butterworth & Co. Ltd. Calcutta 1917.
- Kala-Azar in Doctor Carl Mense’s Handbuch der Tropenkrankheiten, vol. IV, 1926.
- Treatise on Kala-Azar, John Bale, Sons & Danielsson Ltd., London, 1928.
- Campaign against Kala-Azar in India in Jubilee Publication on the 80th birthday of Dr. Prof. Bernhard Nocht, Hamburg, 1937.
- Progress of Medical Research work in India during the last 25 years, and progress of Science in India, during the past 25 years, Indian Science Congress Association 1938.
- Gleanings from my Researchers Vol. I, University of Calcutta, 1940.
- Gleanings from my Researchers Vol. II, University of Calcutta, 1941.
- Infantile Biliary Cirrhosis in India in British Encyclopedia of Medical practice edited by Sir Humphrey Rolleston.
- "Vigyan Prasar website – Upendra Nath Brahamachari".
- London Gazette, 3 June 1924
- London Gazette, 1 June 1934
- "Deceased Fellow". INSA. 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
- Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Indian National Science Academy Vol. 4., Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, 1976.
- Dictionary of Medical Biography Vol. 1 A-B, Edited by W. F. Bynum and Helen Bynum, Greenwood Press, 2006