OBITUARY: Padma Shri Prof. Mahdi Hasan (1936-2013)

Abbas Ali Mahdi


Padma Shri Professor Mahdi Hasan was  born in 1936 in village Gadayan, Akbarpur, then in Faizabad, now Ambedkar Nagar, U.P.). He  was a Senior/Honorary Scientist of the Indian National Science Academy and Honorary  Professor of the Department of Anatomy, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow and formerly Principal and Chief Medical Superintendent (1983-87), Dean (1992-94), Professor (1972-96) and Chairman of Anatomy (1983-87,1990-93), Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University.


Professor Hasan has been an internationally renowned anatomist, a pioneering brain researcher and a reputed national expert of medical education and Founder Director-Principal of Era’s Lucknow Medical College. He is a recipient of the prestigious Dr B.C. Roy National Award in the category of “Eminent Medical Teacher” (1991-92), Hari Om Ashram Alembic Award of Medical Council of India (1979), Dr S.S. Misra Medal of National Academy of Medical Sciences (India), Dr Dharam Narayan Gold Medal of the Anatomical Society of India (1977), Ati Vishisht Chikitsa Medal of College of Chest Physicians of India (1995), Sushruta Award of World Academy of Integrated Medicine (WAIM) 2002, Dr Bachawat Life-Time Achievement Award of Indian Academy of Neurosciences (2004) and Dr. Tirumurti Award of Indian National Science Academy (2010).


Professor Hasan’s persistent endeavour has been to pursue basic medical research, often linked with clinical applications. The main thrust has been to study problems of national relevance, such as environmental pollution, pesticide and metal neurotoxicity, hydrocephalus and brain ageing. His research group proposed a new hypothesis for the genesis of lipofuscin (age-pigment) in 1972 which was confirmed by Scandinavian group in 2002. He also discovered a new technique for demonstrating zinc in brain sections. His more than 135 original research papers, in reputed indexed journals, have received over 660 citations in journals of international repute and 38 books, including Gray’s Anatomy. He has also published 6 books (one only in the month of December 2012, in spite of being terminally ill) and contributed chapters in 8 books.


Dr Hasan’s illustrious academic career spanning around 55 years (06/11/1958- to date), has fought a relentless battle and succeeded in giving a completely new orientation to the teaching of Anatomy. Over 12, 200 of his former students, practicing modern medicine around the globe, not only adore and respect his genius but also have grown up as a generation possessing an academically revolutionary outlook making use of the knowledge of human anatomy in the Science and Art of healing and the care of the sick. Hundreds of them are professors/consultants in various specialties of Medicine and Surgery in India and abroad (including two former Vice-Chancellors of Medical Universities, many Deans/Directors/Principals of prestigious institutions) and a retired Director- General of Armed Forces Medical Corps. Padma Bhushan Dr. Naresh Trehan the internationally renowned heart surgeon and Padma Shri Dr. Ashok Seth Chairman of Escorts Heart Institute are two of his most illustrious students (1963 batch of KGMC, Lucknow & 1974 batch JNMC, Aligarh respectively).


Dr Hasan’s academic qualifications’ include MBBS, MS (with Honours in Anatomy, the first in India), Ph.D., D.Sc., F.A.M.S., F.I.C.S., FRMS, FNASc. and FNA. He is fellow of 4 International Academies, has been advisor to WHO (1983-85) and served as Visiting Professor to a number of Universities, including University of Goettingen (Germany) 1972, Benghazi, Libya (1983-86), Tehran 1993-94, Nanchang, China (June-July, 2005).


Also, he has delivered scores of lectures at prestigious medical institutions abroad on special invitations (including Albert Einstein College, New York, NCTR Jefferson, Chicago, University of Hawaii, Universities of Mainz and Goettingen (Germany), Trieste, Naples, Florence (Italy), London and Kuwait). He has also been a member of the Expert Committee appointed by the Government  of India to draft the National Educational Policy for Health Sciences (headed by Prof. J.S. Bajaj, 1988-90).


In February 2010, he was appointed a member of NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council of Govt. of India).

Hasan’s path breaking endeavours for the promotion of the brain research resulted in the establishment of India’s first “Interdisciplinary Brain Research Centre” (IBRC) at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, AMU, Aligarh in 1977 and the birth of the Indian Academy of Neurosciences at Aligarh in Feb 1983.


Professor Hasan  combined excellent teaching and research capabilities with societal concerns and social commitments. In 1980, he was elected President of the AMU Teaching Staff Association and was instrumental in getting Employees Health Scheme sanctioned by University Grant Commission and implemented by AMU. As the medical superintendent of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh in 1983, he successfully organized voluntary blood donation scheme (demolishing the hazardous practice of professional blood donations or “blood-shops”).


Abbas Ali Mahdi (Professor Mahadi Hasan’s son; abridged)

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