If you haven’t heard of Dr Upendranath Brahmachari, you may be forgiven because it isn’t often that our school textbooks mention him. But this leading scientist and physician holds the credit for synthesising urea stamina in 1922 and establishing it as an effective cure for the deadly kala-azar or black fever that was the cause of hundreds of deaths in his time. Kala-azar aka visceral leishmaniasis is the second-largest parasitic killer in the world and endemic in 76 countries.
Discovered Cure For The Deadly Kala-Azar
Dr Upendranath Brahmachari (19 December 1873–6 February 1946) is best known for creating a drug called urea stibine, used to safely and reliably treat the life-threatening Kala-azar infection caused by the Leishmania parasite.
This pioneer of modern medicine was born in Jamalpore, in the Monghyr district of Bihar to Dr. Nilmony Brahmachari and Smt. SouravSundari Devi.
Dr. Brahmachari’s most outstanding research contribution was in the field of the conquest of Kala-Azar (a Hindi term for black fever), a protozoal infection in both children and adults. The disease Kala-azar (Visceral leishmaniasis) was described by William Leishman and Charles Donovan in 1903. Kala-azar is also known as Leishman-Donovan infection. This disease is transmitted by sand flies and it is characterized by an enlarged spleen and liver, irregular fever, anaemia, etc.
Though some forms of treatment were prescribed during the day, they did not help to reduce the death rate. Dr. Bramhachari decided to take up the challenge of finding a cure for the life-threatening disease. Working under extremely difficult conditions of ill-equipped labs, he discovered that urea-stibamine to be in his own words,” an eminently safe and reliable drug”.
Thereafter, his team conducted tests successfully on various patients for seven years and pronounced it as a successful treatment that ensured the patient’s cure and return to normal health conditions. Though mostly known for his brilliant work on Kala-azar, Dr. Brahmachari worked on other diseases like Malaria, Black- Water Fever, Cerebrospinal Meningitis, Diabetes, Filariasis, Influenza, Leprosy, and Syphilis. He published about 150 research papers.
Denied The Nobel Prize For Medicine
Dr. Brahmachari was nominated for the Nobel Prize twice in his lifetime, once in 1929 and again in 1942. But he was never awarded for his immense contribution to medicine and for saving lakhs of lives from the fatal Kala-azar. It is said today that his ethnicity may gone against him by a biased committee that judged him unfairly because of it.
Notwithstanding the fact, he was a philanthropist who kept making generous donations to many charities during his lifetime. A host of public institutions including the Indian Red Cross Society and the University of Calcutta.