The Indian government has decided to give a fitting tribute to a scientist from Andhra Pradesh who as a researcher in the US gave the world the antibiotic tetracycline that has saved millions of lives in the last 50 years.
The Indian Council of Medical research (ICMR) is to set up a new building in the campus of the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in Hyderabad to house the entire collection of scientific publications of Yellapragada SubbaRow described as the "discoverer of miracle medicines".
NIN is one of the institutes under ICMR. Apart from the wide spectrum antibiotics, many of the scientific contributions of SubbaRow were in the field of vitamins and nutrition.
"This and the fact that he was from Andhra Pradesh were the reasons why ICMR chose NIN to house the archives," NIN director Boindala Sesikeran told IANS.
Apart from his original works and reviewers' comments, the SubbaRow museum and archives will contain documents, letters, photographs and articles giving a glimpse of the life of a remarkable Indian who made not just one or two but several discoveries that are applied so widely for treating diseases.
Initially to be held at the NIN library, the collections will move to the new building in early 2008, Sesikaran said. Eventually the archives will be digitised and be made available online to scholars and students.
SubbaRow was born in 1895 and died in 1948 in the United States. He went to the US in 1923 after graduating from the Madras Medical College and worked at Harvard Medical School until 1940 after which he went to direct medical research at Lederle Laboratories. His discoveries of aureomycin and tetracycline were made there.
The work by SubbaRow and his team also gave the world several drugs: folic acid used for treating a variety of anaemia; VitaminB12, and diethylcarbamazine (DEC) the most widely used drug against filaria. He was co-discoverer of the chemical 'ATP' that stores energy in our body like battery storing electrical energy.
The name SubbaRow was not familiar to most Indians until investigative reporter S.P.K. Gupta chronicled his life history in 1999 in a biography "Yellapragada SubbaRow: In quest of Panacea", after tracking down the scientist's colleagues and family members in India and the US.