Volume 7, Number 4—August 2001
News and Notes
Vulimiri Ramalingaswami (1921-2001)
Professor Vulimiri Ramalingaswami, international editor of Emerging Infectious Diseases since 1998, was born on August 8, 1921, at Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, India. He passed away on May 28, 2001, after a brief illness at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital, New Delhi, India.
Professor Ramalingaswami obtained his MBBS degree in 1944 from Andhra University, his MD degree in internal medicine in 1946 from the same university, and D.Phil. and D.Sc. degrees in 1951 and 1967, respectively, from Oxford University, United Kingdom.
Professor Ramalingaswami’s research career started at Nutrition Research Laboratories, Coonoor in the Nilgiris (now the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad) in 1947. Since then, he had been very active in various aspects of medical research. He believed in pursuing basic knowledge for a better understanding of causes and mechanisms of human diseases prevalent in developing countries and in the application of that knowledge for human betterment. He believed in promoting a meaningful synthesis of laboratory, clinical, and community-based research. His areas of research were protein energy malnutrition, iodine deficiency disorders, nutritional anemia, and liver diseases in the tropics. He was interested in primary health care, infectious diseases, and health research for development.
The most recent and ongoing activities of Professor Ramalingaswami were in the area of new and reemerging infectious diseases, particularly in the developing world. In 1994, India was struck suddenly by an outbreak of plague–bubonic and pneumonic. A technical advisory committee on plague, established by the Indian government under the chairmanship of Professor Ramalingaswami, reported on the factors responsible for the outbreak and recommended steps for prevention of such outbreaks in the future. The committee’s report, "The Plague Epidemic of 1994," was submitted to the government in 1995 and was published in 1996 in a special section of Current Science (71:781-806).
Professor Ramalingaswami was a fellow of the Royal Society; a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA; foreign member, Academy of Medical Sciences, USSR; and past president of the Indian National Science Academy. He received Doctor of Medicine degrees from several universities, including the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
While presenting Dr. Ramalingaswami the Leon Bernard Foundation Award in 1976, Sir Harold Walter, president of the World Assembly, described him as "Physician, research scientist, teacher, and humanist," a very apt description of Professor Ramalingaswami.