Monday, January 20, 2014

Dr.Pattipati Ramaiah Naidu: Renowned Indian nuclear Physicist, Medical Scientist and Radiologist

Pattipati Ramaiah Naidu (Dr. Ramaiah Naidu) (June 1904 - June 6, 1991) was a pioneering Indian nuclear Physicist, Medical Scientist and Radiologist who helped established the foundations of medical physics. He is better known for working under double Nobel Laureate, Marie Curie, for his post-doctoral thesis in Paris, France and pioneer in establishing up Radiology laboratory in India in 1938.

Early life
Naidu was born at Madanapalli, in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh state in India in June 1904. In an early age he left home to join Aurobindo Ghosh's fledging ashram in Puducherry. From there he went to Santiniketan where he taught Mathematics. In 1923 he graduated with honours in B. Sc. from Banaras Hindu University.

Academia and research
Work with Marie Curie
After refusing a scholarship grant from England, he went to Paris to complete his M. Sc. Degree from University of Paris in 1929. He later wrote to Marie Curie, Polish physicist and chemist based in Paris, famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity expressing his desire to work with her, and was accepted into the Sorbonne where he completed his Doctor of Science in 1933. Here he worked with Marie Curie of Radium Institute, Paris for his Doctoral thesis under four years Curie-Carnegie Research Fellowship. The thesis covered ionization curve of alpha rays in pure gases including Krypton and Xenon and published his first research papers in French in the Journal of Physics and Radium, Paris in 1934. Upon Curie's death in 1934 Ramaiah Naidu was running her laboratory for a while.

Post doctorate
Later he moved to England to work under the English experimental physicist Prof. P. M. S. Patrick Blackett, in London University for his Ph. D. thesis which was awarded to him in 1936. In 1936, Tata Trust, Mumbai offered Ramaih Naidu the post of Chief Physicist at Tata Memorial Hospital, Bombay and sought his services to help establish India's first Radon production facility for treatment in Cancer Management. In 1936, Ramaiah Naidu spent another two years at the New York's Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, now known as Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center under G. Failla where he installed Radium Extraction unit for radon production.

Radon production facility in India
During 1936, Tata Sons, Mumbai was keen to set up a Cancer Research Institute under Sir Dorabji Tata Trust in India and sought Ramaiah Naidu services to help establish India's first Radon production facility for treatment in Cancer Management.

In 1938 Ramaiah Naidu joined Tata Memorial Hospital (now Tata Memorial Centre), as its Chief Physicist and brought along with him the Radium Extraction unit and 2 gms of Radium. He set up the countries first Radium Extraction unit well in time before the Start of Tata Memorial Hospital in 28 February 1941. In 1957, the Indian Cancer Research Centre (later called Cancer Research Institute), which was established in 1952 by the Government of India took over the Tata Memorial Hospital & Cancer Research Institute and in 1962 Tata Memorials Hospitals administrative control was transferred to the Department of Atomic Energy.
During World War II years the process of decommissioning and re-commissioning the radon plant before and after his bone marrow was damaged and developed artificial cancer due to his over exposure to radium. Essentially he was advised to move away from radiation related job. In 1948 Tata Trust sent Ramaiah Naidu and his family to Switzerland by for Treatment in 1948.

UNESCO years
Ramaiah Naidu along with his family recovered from the Radium overexposure and Bone Marrow damage. Thereafter, he joined UNESCO in Paris as Programme Specialist in the Department of Natural Science where he initiated and implemented several projects for improvement of science education. In 1955 on the request of Government of India Naidu transferred to India as science director for UNESCO, South East Asia. During 1957 – 59, he worked with the All India Council for Secondary Education as Field Adviser.

Personal life
Ramaiah Naidu met Ms. Marthe Mange of Swiss-French origin during the Second Round Table Conference in London. She was a journalist with Le Petit Democrat Populaire working in Paris and interested in Indology. She was the daughter of a wealthy businessman in Vosges region of France, who helped French Army during the World War I. The later day Italy dictator Benito Mussolini was one of Mange's former employees.

In 1940, the couple had a daughter, Leela Naidu who later acted in Indian Cinema, and was most famous for being listed as "The Worlds Most Beautiful Women" by Vogue and several magazines during the 1960s. She was married Tilak Raj Oberoi, son of Mohan Singh Oberoi, the founder of Oberoi Hotels and later to Dom Moraes the famous poet, writer and publisher based in Mumbai.

Ramaiah Naidu died on June 6, 1991, at the age of 87 years. The Association of Medical Physicists of India in 1992 created the Annual Dr. Ramaiah Naidu Memorial Oration Award in honour of Ramaiah's contribution and pioneering efforts in his works.
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