(16-8-1929 .. 12-7-1998)
Tribute to a Great Person
(From Natl Med J India 1998)
GR Sridhar, Editor, Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism

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Prof MMS Ahuja, former Professor of Medicine, founder Professor of Endocrinology, Dean, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi died on 12th July 1998 after a short respiratory illness. He was the teacher of teachers, a renowned clinician, a dedicated researcher, an administrator, and the founding father and guiding light of Research Society for Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI). He is survived by his wife Dr. Meera Ahuja and two children.

Prof Ahuja had been a towering presence in all he did. Those of us who were privileged to work with him were aware of his tremendous zeal, enthusiasm and drive. He seemed to say yesterday is history. Today and tomorrow is where your focus should be.

To most of us who knew him it seemed out of place to even conceive of his personal life such as birth, training, publications or awards. He was so full of science, medicine, endocrinology and diabetes -- not just basic science, clinical science, or research, but a synthesis of all these in the care of each individual as a person, and in the delivery of health care as well. The science of medicine, and in particular, endocrinology and diabetes was very much part of him, be it in documenting and extending their frontiers, or in training those who did that -- in our country, as well as across the seas in all parts of the world.

Prof MMS Ahuja was born on 16th August 1929 at Multan, now in Pakistan. He began his medical education at Lahore Medical College, Lahore. Due to the partition of 1947, he was relocated to Madras Medical College, Madras, where he graduated in 1952. Later he was awarded Membership of Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) in 1956 in the first attempt. He worked as resident at the renowned Hammersmith Hospital London, before joining All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.

At AIIMS, where he joined as Registrar in Medicine, he was quickly promoted to Associate Professor Medicine and became Head of the Department in 1969. He continued to be Professor of Medicine till 1982, until he opted to head the Department of Endocrinology which was established in 1982. In 1988 he became the Dean of AIIMS and in 1989 he was honoured with the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship. He was awarded the post of supernumerary Professor for two years , after superannuation in 1989.

At AIIMS, Prof Ahuja started the DM course in Endocrinology, which has become a premier training centre, whose alumni are continuing to extend the frontiers of clinical care and research. As a teacher, Prof Ahuja believed in showing the path, and allowing his students to travel, with guidance when necessary. The interest of his students was always at the core, and it must have been a source of pleasure and pride to have had his former students at the forefront of teaching, clinical care and research all over the world.

Prof Ahuja was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP) in 1974, and Fellow of National Academy of Medical Sciences of India in 1975. He received the prestigious Dr BC Roy Award for Medical Research in 1982. In 1988, he received the Fellowship of the Indian College of Physicians. He was awarded WHO fellowship, AIIMS - New Zealand Exchange Programme, Rockfeller Fellow for Endocrinology, Welcome Trust Travelling Fellow, WHO Senior Scientist Fellowship.

Prof Ahuja had more than 150 publications in all standard Indian journals, and in most reputed international journals. Prof. Ahuja authored or edited seven high standard textbooks which are recognised as postgraduate reference books, particularly 'Progress in Clinical Medicine in India' series. His monograph on Epidemiology of diabetes in India is a source book, widely quoted in international literature.

Prof Ahuja was expert member in various examinations and selections of UPSC, NBE, ICMR, CSIR, DST and a number of universities and examination boards. He was also member of many expert committees and task forces set up by ICMR, WHO and Government of India. In recognition of his efforts he was conferred the Padmasri in 1993.

In spite of his busy schedule and dedication to research, Prof Ahuja was instrumental in founding two major organisations, 'Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India' and 'Hormone Foundation, India.' He was the founding editor of Diabetes Bulletin which is now being published as International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries.

He bestowed enormous care, effort and affection on RSSDI and Diabetes Bulletin. Drawing on his wide and deep knowledge, he took extraordinary pains in formulating national meetings, chalking out scientific programmes and in designing theme-related issues of the Bulletin. We were struck by his tremendous physical energy, and by the combination of breadth of vision and the critical care he displayed.

Even after he joined Sitaram Bharatiya Institute of Medical Education and Research in 1991, he continued to pursue research and presented his new data in February 1998.

His lectures were a culmination of knowledge and wisdom: personal research, thorough literature search and finally a synthesis in his inimitable fashion.

Prof Ahuja was a multi-dimensional personality. He had deep and abiding interest in the fine arts, travel and cross-cultural aspects of living.

Prof Ahuja was an icon who comes but rarely. We have all been graced with the privilege of associating with him. We grieve his loss.

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