The man who stood for truth, the pioneer of IVF in India: Dr. T C Anand Kumar

In reference to earlier article “The Untold Story Behind India’s First Test Tube Baby“, and the person responsible for bringing the due credit to Dr. Subhas Mukhopahyay. He could have easily taken the crown but he stood for the truth and gave away his crown to the rightful person.

The Gist:

  • He was officially the first test tube baby creator in 1986. He discovers that Dr. Subhas Mukhopahyay. is the actual first Indian to have done the same in 1978
  • He made sure that Dr. Subhas get the recognition and relinquished his crown to become the second Indian Test Tube creator.
  • Also, the team of the IVH Team of 1978 got recognition and “Durga” was officially said to be the first test tube baby.

Dr. T.C Anand Kumar: Pioneer behind Indi's second Test Tube BabyDr. T.C Anand Kumar, the pioneer of India’s first scientifically documented test tube baby, passed away on January 26, 2010 at the age of 74. A reproductive biologist of international repute, he will always be remembered for his diverse contributions to the field ranging from the role of the neuro-endocrine system in reproduction; developing the means of administering hormones via the nasal route and spear-heading the team that produced India’s first test tube baby (Harsha) at the ICMR’s Institute for Research in Reproduction and the KEM Hospital, Mumbai in 1986. After his retirement as the Director of the Institute for Research in Reproduction, Mumbai, he founded Hope Infertility Clinic in Bangalore in 1991 where many of the first generation of ART specialists in the country were trained and started their careers in this field.

Harsha Chawda: India's Second Test Tube BabyHaving attained his doctorate in India, he went to Birmingham, UK to pursue his studies. Despite several job opportunities provided to him in UK, he was committed by a national spirit and returned to India to participate in the growth of science in the young nation. It was then that he started the electron microscopy laboratory at the All India Institute Medical Sciences in the 1970 which is still functional today.

He continued sharing his wisdom and experience with the younger generation of scientists by serving as an advisor on many committees on the World Health Organization, Department of Science and Technology, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India; Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and the Indian Council of Medical Research till September 2009.

His work was recognized by his peers and he received the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award, the highest scientific award in the country; the Sanjay Gandhi National Award, and was fellow of prestigious Indian Academy of Science; the National Academy of Medical Science (India) and fellow of the Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

The visionary in Dr Anand Kumar was equally concerned about the welfare of his patients seeking treatment with newer reproductive technologies. When the first scientifically documented test tube baby was born, he was always questioned whether an over populated country needed test-tube babies. With this modality of treatment gaining acceptance and hundreds of clinics operating in India, he took a lead in formulating National Guidelines for Accreditation, Supervision and Regulation of ART Clinics in India.

A man who stood for truth had the greatness to give away his fame and glory of being the pioneer of India’s first test tube baby when he discovered all the hand-written notes of Dr Subhas Mukerjee. Dr Mukerjee from Kolkata had claimed to have created a test tube baby in 1979 (the second in the world) but his claims were neither substantiated nor recognized by scientists or the authorities leading to the man ending his life prematurely. Dr Anand Kumar had the courage to research his predecessors’ findings and scientifically present it to the world giving Dr Mukerjee his due place in medical history (Anand Kumar T C. Curr Sci. 72:526-531; 1997). Such generosity and honesty is a very rare and precious attribute.

The Selfless Gesture that gave a dead and ill treated scientist his due

The invention of Indian First Test Tube Baby went to Dr. T.C Anand Kumar, Director of ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research). In 1997 he came to Kolkata for participating in Science Congress. It was when all the research documents of Dr. Mukhopadhyay were handed over to him. After meticulously scruitinising and having discussion with Durga’s Parents he became certain that Dr. Mukhopadhyay was the architect of a human test tube baby. This eminent scientist once mentioned in a journal on ‘A critique of Mukerji’s technique’:

“The brief description given by Mukerji 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 Mukerji carried out the procedure of in vitro fertilization.

1997- 8th February: Dr. T C. Anand Kumar, former Director of the Institute of Research in Reproduction (ICMR) Bombay, also known to have produced India’s first documented Test Tube Baby delivered Dr. Subhas Mukherjee Memorial Oration at Science City in Calcutta during 3rd National Congress on Assisted Reproductive Technology organized by Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction. After getting most of the published and unpublished papers of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee and the technical report submitted to the Govt. of West Bengal: (1978), Dr. Anand Kumar emphatically expressed that he was convinced that Dr. Subhas Mukherjee produced India’s first test-tube baby. He published a paper to that effect in “Current Science” April 10th, 1997. He has analyzed in detail and expressed that the following technological first should be credited to Mukherjee.

2001: Following this revelation the Dr. Subhas Mukheriee Memorial Reproductive Biology Research Centre was encouraged to publish a book entitled Architect of India’s First Test Tube Baby – Dr. Subhas Mukherjee” containing most of the published and unpublished research contributions of Subhas Mukherjee.

2003, 28th April: Prof. Sunit Mukherjee, the only surviving member of the IVF team, was felicitated by the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers at a function in Kolkata and was conferred the Honorary Fellowship by Dr. P. G. Rao, President of I.I.Ch.E.

2003- 3rd October: Silver Jubilee of IVF in India organized by Hope Infertility Clinic, Inter Academy Biomedical Science Forum and Indian Council of Medical Research held at Bangalore. India’s First Test Tube Baby, “Durga” or Kanupriya and the only surviving member of the IVF team, Prof Sunit Mukherjee were felicitated.

2005 – 4th February: Subhas Mukherjee Memorial Oration delivered by Dr. T. C. Anand Kumar, organized by Indian Society for Study of Reproduction & Fertility Regulation at Kolkata.

2007: Dr. Subhas Mukherjee’s life and work was published in the “Dictionary of Medical Biography” by Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, London England. Edited by W. F. Bynum and Helen Bynum and published Greenwood Press, Westport, CT 06881. ISBN 0-313-32881-1

2008: Dr. Subhas Mukherjee’s works were recognised and thoroughly discussed at the event of IVF – 30 years, organised by Brazilian Medical Society in Sao Paulo 2007.

In Dr. T.C. Anand Kumar’s initiative Dr. Mukhopahdhyay is mentioned as the architect of first human test tube baby in a document related to the subject of artificial intercourse in ICMR India’s first test tube baby “Durga” whose parental name is Kanupriya Agarwal works in a Multinational Company as a Marketing Executive in Delhi.

There are brave scientists fighting the cause of Dr. Mukhopahdhyay and projecting his genius to the people. The worthy names to be mentioned in this regard are like Dr. Sunit Mukherjee and Dr. T. C. Anand Kumar.

Dr Anand Kumar’s love for science and the search for the truth will always be remembered. His students who are now highly placed all over the world would always cherish their mentor. He is survived by his wife, Karpagam son Vijay and a daughter Ambika and three grand children.

What Next?

Related Articles

One Response to "The man who stood for truth, the pioneer of IVF in India: Dr. T C Anand Kumar"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, is this anything new, that greatness is never appreciated.. history has got so many such cases… and carries on…
    The latest being:
    “Anand denied honorary doctorate by bureaucracy”

    [quote]HRD Ministry had questioned the nationality of Indian chess wizard Vishwanathan Anand and denied the honorary doctorate. [/quote]


Leave a Reply

You must be Logged in to post comment.