On insulin’s centenary year, researchers have discovered a pioneer — Jyoti Prakash Bose, the first Indian endocrinologist who had administered the drug here at the School of Tropical Medicine 98 years ago.
Bose started injecting the drug to children with Type 1 diabetes in 1923, the same year Fredrick Banting and J J McLeod got the Nobel Prize for discovering insulin. The UK-trained Bengali doctor also ran India’s first diabetes clinic at STM. Chennai-based diabetologist Viswanathan Mohan, son of M Bishwanathan, who until now was called the father of diabetes treatment in India, published his paper recently, acknowledging Bose, five decades after his demise.
The paper — titled ‘Diabetes in Pre-independence India: Rediscovering a Forgotten Era’— published in the August edition of Journal of The Association of Physicians of India, has created a stir among physicians world over. More proud are city endocrinologists like Utsho Basu, attached to Apollo Gleneagles Hospitals, who said, “This is a historic moment for Kolkata. Insulin was such an epoch-making discovery. It changed diabetes management because there’s no other cure for those suffering from Type 1 diabetes. I am especially happy because I know Mohan personally and am grateful to him for letting the world know that JP Bose was using the lifesaving drug 98 years ago when the rest of India was clueless about it.”
Mohan, a Padma Shree awardee with 1,500-odd diabetes research to his credit, told TOI from Chennai: “All these years, everyone believed that my dad had started India’s first diabetic clinic at Stanley Medical College in 1948. But he was only born in 1923 when Bose was already injecting insulin at his STM clinic. Our article describes a forgotten chapter, showing that contrary to common belief, India was not a ‘late starter’ in the treatment of diabetes with insulin.”
“My father’s glory doesn’t fade as Bose gets the recognition due to him,” added Mohan, reminding of T C Anand Kumar discovering Subhash Mukhopadhyay as the father of test-tube baby Durga. Until then, Kumar himself was celebrated as the pioneer.