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Table of Contents    
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 356-363

Dr. Sriramachari, founder neuropathologist of India

1 Department of Pathology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Science and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala, India
2 Department of Neurosurgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; Director, National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication13-May-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Prakash N Tandon
National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0028-3886.257995

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How to cite this article:
Sandhyamani S, Tandon PN. Dr. Sriramachari, founder neuropathologist of India. Neurol India 2019;67:356-63

How to cite this URL:
Sandhyamani S, Tandon PN. Dr. Sriramachari, founder neuropathologist of India. Neurol India [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Sep 22];67:356-63. Available from:

  Career-Outline Top

Dr. S. Sriramachari was born on June 25th, 1925 in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. He obtained BSc, MBBS, MD and DSc degrees from Andhra University. He started his research career as a Lady Tata Research Scholar (1950) in Andhra Medical College, under Prof. M.D. Ananthachari, and then joined Nutrition Research Laboratories (NRL), [renamed the National Institute of Nutrition [NIN]), Coonoor, as a Pathologist (Assistant Research Officer). In 1954, he was deputed for training in neuropathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), Washington, DC, USA. In 1959, he left the NIN (one year after it had shifted to Hyderabad) and joined as Associate Professor of Neuropathology at the All India Institute of Mental Health (AIIMH), the forerunner of National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences [NIMHANS], Bangalore. In 1962, in the wake of Sino-Indian conflict, Dr. CG Pandit requisitioned his services as Deputy Director at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). In 1965, he became the Founder Director of the Indian Registry of Pathology, later named Institute of Pathology (ICMR) and is now called the National Institute of Pathology (ICMR), New Delhi. Concurrently, he served as the first Additional Director General of the ICMR during 1982-89. After retirement in 1989, he continued to be associated with the institute until 2009, pursuing scientific research on Indian childhood cirrhosis, environmental toxicology based on biomonitoring of placenta, and toxicological aspects of the Bhopal Gas Disaster, with honorary assignments such as the Pitambar Pant Fellow of Ministry of Environment, Senior Scientist of Indian National Science Academy (INSA), Honorary Advisor, ICMR, and INSA Honorary Scientist.

  Early Days Top

People usually trace their roots to their biological ancestors, often evident in their first names and surnames. Dr. Sriramachari would tell his close colleagues his entire name “Samavedam Srinivasa Sriramacharyulu” and explain to them the pronunciation and meaning of each part. These exchanges would impress upon them that he was a man with a deep sense of pride in his origins and culture. School and college mates called him 'Acharyulu'; colleagues and friends, knew him by the abridged name, 'Dr. Chari or Charlie'; while at home, he was'Sri Rama'.

After schooling, he studied BSc (Chemistry) for three years, as he was under-aged to take up medicine. Thereafter, he did under-graduation at Andhra Medical College, the only one existing in the eastern part of the combined state of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. He was deeply interested in politics in the pre-independence era and was even denied a paid house job because of his political affiliations, despite being a meritorious student.

As a house-surgeon (unpaid), Dr. Chari was known as a very diligent worker. His mentor, Dr. Ananthachari, was a very hard taskmaster, a difficult-to-please teacher and an astute clinician. He appreciated Dr. Chari for being a meticulous worker and a keen observer, and encouraged him to apply for the Lady Tata Fellowship. As part of this Fellowship, Dr. Chari studied nutritional fatty liver and cirrhosis and became the first person in our country to carry out liver biopsies, as well as establish a new method of histochemical staining of tissue lipids.

Dr. Chari got a job as Assistant Research Officer at the National Research Laboratory (NRL), Coonoor, Division of Experimental Nutrition Pathology, with Dr. Patwardhan as Director. He worked under Dr. V. Ramalingaswami, and later Dr. C. Gopalan, on liver changes in kwashiorkor and pathology of deficiencies in vitamins A, B, C and D [Figure 1]. His MD thesis work was on nutritional liver fibrosis (diet-induced and hepato-toxic peri-portal fibrosis) and cirrhosis, while his DSc work involved induction and reversal of nutritional cirrhosis. He was very proud of the fact that Dame Sheila Sherlock had reviewed his DSc thesis and graded it as excellent.
Figure 1: Dr. Chari examining an experimental animal with Maria Susai, NRL (ICMR), Coonoor

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  Training in Neuropathology Top

The Government of India sent him to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), Washington DC [Figure 2] for 9 months to be trained in neuropathology under the Nuffield Fellowship of USA. He worked under the stalwarts, Dr. Webb Haymaker [Figure 3] and Dr. Leo Krainer, to study the effect of nutritional deficiencies such as scurvy and beri-beri in experimental guinea pigs.[1]
Figure 2: AFIP Building, Washington D.C

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Figure 3: Dr. Webb Haymaker, Head, Department of Neuropathology, AFIP

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Dr. Webb Haymaker was a strict disciplinarian who taught histo-morphology and pathology of the brain with military precision to the students and fellows who came from various parts of USA and the world. Besides working with Dr. Haymaker on experimental scorbutic brain in guinea pigs, Dr. Chari joined his group to study the effects of gravity on the developing monkey brain [Figure 4]. It was with great reluctance that he left the AFIP when called back urgently to the NRL by Dr. Gopalan who had by then become the Director. More reluctant were the faculty and his colleagues at AFIP to let this young man bubbling with new ideas, go back to India [Figure 5].
Figure 4: Dr. Chari, Nuffield Fellow at AFIP

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Figure 5: Memento from AFIP: Cartoon gifted to Dr. Chari before he returned to India

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Dr. Chari became the second person from India to be trained in neuropathology; the first one being Dr. C.G.S Iyer, who initiated work on leprosy at Chingleput (Chengalpet).

  Neuropathology at AIIMH (NIMHANS) Top

After returning from USA, Dr. Chari continued to work on nutritional liver diseases and obtained MD in Pathology followed by DSc in Pathology, both from Andhra University. He left ICMR in 1959 to join AIIMH (NIMHANS), Bangalore, as Associate Professor and started the Department of Neuropathology, with one scientific assistant, Raghunatha Rao, and one technician, Maria Susai, along with the immense support of Dr. D.L.N. Murthi Rao, the Director [Figure 6]. Dr. R.M. Varma soon joined the institute as a neurosurgeon, followed by Dr. K.S. Mani as a neurologist. Dr. Chari worked at the AIIMH for 3 years, while his association and collaboration with Dr. Varma and Dr. Mani, lasted for several decades.
Figure 6: Dr. Chari with Dr. Murthi Rao, Director, AIIMH, Bangalore

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The Pathology department at AIIMH consisted of two asbestos sheet covered rooms, namely the office-cum-microscopy room and the laboratory-cum-museum. Autopsies on neurological cases were started for the first time and a good number of brain specimens were soon displayed in the makeshift museum (the fore-runner of the Museum and Brain Bank at NIMHANS). The large biopsy sections were all hand-processed and skillfully cut by Maria Susai, using an ordinary kitchen knife on a rotary microtome. Two years later, Dr. Chari was delighted to purchase a Histokinette (automatic tissue processor) and a fluorescence microscope that he himself converted into a versatile equipment for interference contrast and polarization studies as well. The department did not have a cryostat. To overcome this deficiency, the biopsy tissue was frozen and the microtome knife cooled to -40° C with carbon-dioxide snow obtained by allowing the gas to escape into a gunny bag. Since the laboratory was far away from the operation theatre, even that procedure could not be followed for the peroperative biopsy processing. Dr. Chari and Maria Susai would be stationed in a side-room of the operation theatre throughout the surgery that would sometimes go on till late in the night. Dr. Chari was perhaps the first person in our country to examine per-operative smears using “Romanowsky” dyes. He developed his own technique of rapidly staining the smears using dyes in Quink ink, from his giant-sized 'Pilot' pen, as the surgery by Dr. R.M. Varma and his team progressed. Free-hand sections of tissues were also cut by Maria Susai, using “quick-freeze spray” (containing ethyl chloride) to freeze the biopsy on a hand-held chuck and a barber's scalpel. Thus, although there was no cryostat available at the OT, it did not prevent Dr. Chari from providing a rapid per-operative tentative diagnosis. Multiple biopsies were examined during surgery to know the exact nature and extent of the lesion.

Another major alliance that he forged at AIIMH was with Dr. K.S. Mani, Head of Neurology Department. Dr. Mani and Dr. Chari studied several cases of neuro-lathyrism caused by consumption of kesari dal, Lathyrus sativus. Together with Dr. S.L.N. Rao from the Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bangalore, they isolated the toxic factor, β-N-oxalyl-L-α,β-diaminopropionic acid (BODAP), a neurotoxicamino acid in L. sativus. Dr. Chari and Dr. Mani also carried out experimental induction of the neuro-toxicity of BODAP by giving intra-thecal injections of the compound to monkeys.[2],[3]

  Icmr Headquarters and Registry of Pathology Top

Following the 1st Sino-Indian war, when the harsh terrain took its toll on the Indian soldiers, Dr. Chari shifted to ICMR Headquarters at New Delhi, on invitation by Dr. C.G. Pandit, to study pathology of high altitude [Figure 7]. At the same time, he was assigned the responsibility of helping Dr. Pandit write the 1st Review Report of the ICMR and its institutes. In 1965, Dr. Chari was made the founder Director of the Registry of Pathology, later re-named as the Institute of Pathology (IOP) and subsequently, National Institute of Pathology, New Delhi. The Institute was located in Safdarjung Hospital.
Figure 7: The “Chatur-Moorthies,” Dr. K. Someswara Rao, Deputy Director, and Dr. C.G. Pandit, Director, ICMR, New Delhi with “Rama” and “Sri Rama” (Dr. Ramalingaswami and Dr. Sriramachari)

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  Consultant Neuropathologist for Aiims and Other Institutions Top

Initially at AIIMS, New Delhi, there was no neuropathologist. Dr. Chari was an Honorary Professor and Consultant Neuropathologist until Dr. Subimal Roy returned from USA, after training with Dr. Zimmerman. Dr. Chari would be called upon to examine autopsy cases and any biopsy material referred from AIIMS. During those days, he had the opportunity of interacting closely with neurologists and neurosurgeons of AIIMS. Dr. Pathak, Dr. Vimala Virmani, and especially, the co-author (PNT), were often in touch with him for neuropathology biopsies. Another person for whom Dr. Chari had a great regard, was Dr. Baldev Singh, the renowned neurologist and neurophysiologist, popularly known as Father Neuron. Dr. Chari greatly cherished the gift of a 1925 model of a binocular Zeiss microscope that Dr. Baldev Singh gave him.

For a long time, there was no neuropathologist at NIMHANS, after Dr. Chari left in 1962. The same was true even for the neuroscience group at Madras for many years till Dr. Sarasabharathy joined the Madras Medical College. Hence, Dr. Chari continued to intermittently receive biopsies from Dr. B. Ramamurthi and others from South India, for several years. He maintained a close association with neurologists and neurosurgeons from all over the country [Figure 8] and [Figure 9].
Figure 8: The Neuro Group from South India (Dr. K.S. Mani, Dr. Brahmayya Sastri and Dr. B. Ramamurthi), for a quick lunch at Dr. Chari's residence, New Delhi

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Figure 9: Old friends, Dr. P.N. Tandon, Dr. K.S. Mani and Dr. R.M. Varma, meet at Dr. Ramamurthi's 75th birthday celebrations, Chennai

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  Research Career in Neuropathology Top

Starting with his research work at NRL, Coonoor, and continuing during his long tenure as Director, IOP, Dr. Chari carried out several important collaborative studies on neuropathology, in addition to pathology of vitamin deficiencies, and toxico-nutritional disorders of the liver, eye, bone, cardiovascular system and endocrine organs.

Dr. Sarala Das, who later became Head of Neuropathology, NIMHANS, was Dr. Chari's first PhD student [Figure 10]. They demonstrated alterations in, and quenching of natural birefringence of glial fibres, using certain histochemical silver techniques. They could thus very easily identify gliosis in reactive processes and glial fibres in tumours, without the necessity of costly immunological reagents for detection of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP).
Figure 10: Dr. Chari with Dr. Sarala Das, Neuropathologist and her husband, Dr. B.S. Das, Neurosurgeon at NIMHANS

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Along with Dr. Indira Narayanan, a pediatrician, and Dr. Vimla Virmani, neurologist at AIIMS, Dr. Chari carried out pioneering clinical and experimental studies on muscle diseases, especially muscular dystrophy. He was a supervisor for the PhD work of Dr. Kumud Deo (wife of Dr. M.G. Deo, Professor of Pathology, AIIMS) who studied anatomy of the developing monkey brain.

In the 1970s, there were annual outbreaks of sudden deaths in children in Madhya Pradesh during summer. Extensive clinical and autopsy studies did not reveal any definite pathogen or toxic factor. Investigations for viral infections also did not yield any clue. The condition named “Nagpur encephalopathy” was intriguing and perplexing. When Dr. Chari was approached, he readily agreed to examine the autopsy material and even personally carried out autopsies. From these studies, Dr. Chari concluded that the changes in the brain were possibly the result of high environmental ambient temperature affecting the children. The histopathological features resembled what he had seen in experiments at AFIP with Dr. Webb Haymaker. Further studies carried out with Dr. Pathak and Dr. D.K. Balani, at AIIMS, on primates subjected to high ambient heat showed features very similar to what were seen in these autopsies, and those described in Reye's syndrome. He thus proved that “Nagpur encephalopathy” was the result of metabolic derangements owing to heat hyperpyrexia during summer months and was not an infectious disease, as originally suspected.[4],[5]

Another monumental work in Neuropathology by Dr. Chari was on “experimental brain edema” with Dr. D.K. Balani, PhD scholar [Figure 11], who carried out the experimental work under him and Dr. Pathak, Professor and Head of Neurology Department at AIIMS. The work that spanned 7 years, examined the induction of cerebral edema in Rhesus monkeys, which were subjected to extradural cerebral compression. Dr. Balani had to take a minimum of 20 samples from each of the 473 odd brain specimens and examine them using a battery of 2 dozen histochemical stains for various tissue components, namely proteins, lipid, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, and any abnormal deposits such as amyloid, lipofuscin, etc. At the end of this study, a perplexed and agitated Dr. Balani came to Dr. Chari, and literally cried “Sir, there is no abnormality in any of the stains. What do I do?” He was shocked to hear Dr. Chari gleefully declare, “That is just what I expected! You have got the answer for this important clinical problem.” The results[6] were diametrically opposite to that available in the literature. Klatzo et al.,[7] had studied extradural cerebral compression in cats, not monkeys and found extensive proteinaceous edema that resulted in considerable residual deposits of extravasated proteins even after adequate decompression procedures. Dr. Chari attributed this difference to anatomic variations in the cerebral vasculature and hemodynamic adaptations. He also hypothesized that the difference in response between species could be owing to their natural posture; the cat, with the head at the same level as the heart, versus the erect primates.
Figure 11: Dr. Chari with his PhD student, Dr. D.K. Balani

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Dr. Balani and Dr. Chari then carried out electron microscopy studies and found remarkable changes mainly in the astrocytes whose perivascular foot processes showed profound swelling in experimental animals subjected to increasing intra-cranial pressure. More importantly, they found near-complete regression of the changes with the reversal of pressure.[8] They concluded that astrocytic foot processes with a high sodium content could perhaps imbibe all the extravasated fluid and release the same during reversal of the pathological insult.

Just as Dr. Balani started consolidating his results and writing up his thesis, Dr. Chari had an acute episode of transient ischemic attack, possibly precipitated by smoking “Dunhill” cigarettes bought by him during a visit to Australia the previous month. Dr. Chari used to only “intermittently experiment with cigarettes” but was not a regular smoker. Dr. Gourie-Devi, Professor and Head, Neurology Department at Safdarjung Hospital literally forced him to get admitted at AIIMS for treatment. Following the incident, Dr. Chari vowed not to touch cigarettes again. Subsequently, he spent two months in reviewing and finalizing Dr. Balani's thesis, a voluminous 700 page work, highly appreciated by Dr. Dastur, the examiner. Dr. Balani was later awarded the Khanolkar Prize for this thesis during the Silver Jubilee Annual Conference of the Indian Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists at AIIMS, which he presented to a jam-packed lecture hall of pathologists from all over the country.

Dr. Chari presented these findings on experimental cerebral oedema during the World Congress of Neurology in 1977 at Amsterdam. The work led to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of brain edema and a re-thinking on the clinical implications of brain edema in humans.

While studying autopsies of patients who died of methyl isocyanate (MIC) toxicity during the Bhopal gas disaster, Dr. Chari observed that cerebral blood vessels were packed with erythrocytes. In some of these cases, he found “ghost cells” with no hemoglobin in them. He concluded that exposure to the toxic metabolites must have resulted in severe biochemical alterations, possibly affecting enzymes such as glutathione reductase, and finally affecting the integrity of the erythrocyte cell membranes, making them leaky. This important evidence from electron microscopic studies on the brain led Dr. Chari to further investigate and delineate the molecular pathogenesis of methyl isocyanate (MIC) toxicity, particularly those processes causing N-carbamylation of several proteins and enzymes.[9],[10]

When his daughter (the coauthor of this article, SS) found a non-atherosclerotic disorder, mucoid vasculopathy[11] while studying autopsies at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Science and Technology (SCTIMST), Trivandrum, Dr. Chari was very excited about the observations and started whistling, just as he used to do while returning home from his laboratory in Coonoor! The vascular changes with abundant deposits of proteoglycans in the walls of blood vessels were similar to what he had seen in the aorta of bonnet monkeys with induced malnutrition. In fact, he had predicted in 1957 in that paper, the occurrence of non-atherosclerotic forms of vascular disease in oriental regions of the world. He had developed an animal model for the vasculopathy 25 years before his daughter (this author, SS) identified the human vascular disease in 1983. On his advice, she extended his work further and established a primate model for mucoid vasculopathy, associated organ diseases (cardiomyopathy resembling endomyocardial fibrosis, pancreatopathy presaging diabetes of different types, goiter, etc), and dyslipidemia, all being part of a nutritional imbalance metabolic syndrome (Statistics and Epidemiology Research Corp (SERC), International Angiology, Pancreas). Based on this work, Dr. Chari and his daughter (this author, SS) filed a patent application (pending) for dietary compositions and schedules for development of various animal models that can be used to understand the pathogenesis of diet-induced and toxico-nutritional life-style diseases, including atherosclerosis, ageing and degenerative conditions, especially of the brain. Dr. Chari's “deergha-drishti” (far-sightedness) thus has led to the development of medical research with far reaching implications and universal applications.[12],[13],[14],[15]

He also recalled that his good friend, Dr. Sambasivan, the well-known neurosurgeon from Trivandrum, had found diffusely thick, cerebral blood vessels with mucoid plaques during an ICMR project on forensic autopsies [Figure 12]. On Dr. Chari's advice, his daughter carried out a detailed study of cerebral aneurysms with Dr. R.N. Bhattacharya, neurosurgeon, and his student, Dr. Rajesh, at her Institute, SCTIMST, and showed that mucoid arteriosclerotic vasculopathy with proteoglycan deposition, not atherosclerosis, was responsible for aneurysm formation. Dr. Rajesh was awarded the best paper of the Neurological Society of India (NSI) for this work.
Figure 12: Farewell to Dr. Chari, on his retirement, Institute of Pathology, 1989. Dr. H.M.K. Saxena, his successor and Dr. Ashok Mukherjee, listen attentively to him

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Although Dr. Chari got specialized training in Neuropathology, he was a versatile pathologist who had carried out studies on almost all systems of the body. The research work was carried out in dispersed rooms borrowed from Safdarjung Hospital throughout his 24 years' tenure as Director. The permanent building came up only after he retired. Dr. H.M.K. Saxena, and later, Dr. Ashok Mukherjee succeeded him [Figure 12].

  Preceptors in Life and Ancestors in Neuro-Science Top

Of all the people he knew, Dr. Chari had the greatest regard for 5 persons: his Father, Sriman Appalachariar, his “Guru” Dr. M.D. Ananthachari, Professor of Medicine, with whom he started his research career as a Lady Tata Fellow, Dr. R.V. Rajam, Professor of Dermatology at Chennai whom he considered his mentor, friend and philosopher, Sir C.V. Raman, awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery of “Raman” spectral emissions, and Santiago Ramon Y Cajal, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on Neuroanatomy.

Dr. Chari had the opportunity of attending one of the lectures by Sir C.V. Raman at the Indian Institute of Science. Impressed by his inquisitive question on perception of light and colour by the eye, Sir C.V. (as he was called) asked Dr. Chari to come to his lab after the meeting for a detailed discussion and invited him to become a Fellow of his Indian Academy of Science, a privilege he gave to very few young scientists.

At home, his father and other elders recounted stories of illustrious scholarly ancestors, their roots in Alwar Thirunagari in the southern part of Tamil Nadu, how they migrated 250 years ago through northern parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh and settled as scholars in Gutala, a village on the eastern bank of the river Godavari. They took pride in being part of the Samavedam families, known for their intelligence and sharp brains. In addition, Dr. Chari was very proud of the fact that he could trace his spiritual ancestry in Neuro-Science to Ramon Y Cajal, the founder of Neuro-Anatomy. His mentor at AFIP was Dr. Webb Haymaker, whose teacher was Rio-Hortega, who was, in turn, tutored by Cajal in the early part of his career. So Dr. Chari considered Cajal to be his academic and spiritual great-grand parent. While browsing the internet, he was amused to see a 'neuro-tree' linking his name to these ancestors in neuro-science!

During Dr. Chari's Fellowship at AFIP, Washington DC, Courville, a student of Rio-Hortega, gave him a copy of the English translation of Cajal's book “Precepts to a Scientific Investigator.” This became Dr. Chari's Bible. He read it innumerable times, scribbling his comments in English, Telugu and in Sanskrit in the margins of each page. He would show it to every visitor in his office and extort his wife and children to also read the book. Cajal became a household name, but despised by them as the book was thrust on them constantly. He often told his daughter (SS, author of this article) that one day she would realize the importance of the book when she too faced problems in her career as a pathologist and research worker. Some years later, on her request, he was very happy to give her a copy of The Book. Only then she understood what the book really meant for her father.

  Neuropathologist With a Sharp Brain Top

Dr. Chari was known for his encyclopedic knowledge, rapid reaction time while solving problems and for an extraordinary memory. He could easily recall all telephone numbers (without having to consult his diary) and names of people (including the colour of their clothes) even if he met them briefly or casually. He had a passion for histochemistry (based on which he developed “blue-toned” and “multi-colour-toned” slides for lectures and talks). He had a deep interest in polarization microscopy and photomicrography, which lead to his applying for seven patents related to these subjects. For standardizing photomicrography procedures in order to develop teaching-aids, a well-stained section of the cerebellum was photographed over 3000 times by him!

  The Role of a Neuropathologist Top

Dr. Chari would often say that a true pathologist should not just describe the “what” and “where” of a disease (morphology and cellular features, and location), but should try to get answers for “why” of a disease process (namely, its etio-pathogenesis) and “how” it can be reversed or stopped. Dr. Chari had that rare combination of expertize and interest in diverse subjects that helped him get a better insight into various diseases [Figure 13].
Figure 13: Dr. Chari at the microscope, looking through crystal-clear artificial intra-ocular and extra-ocular lenses

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There were several unfinished areas of work and unresolved questions that Dr. Sriramachari was pursuing even till the last few days before he died: what actually was responsible for the intense red-colouration of various organs, especially the brain, in the Bhopal Gas exposees, and, what the biochemical basis was for recurrent symptoms in them? On his insistence, he was allowed to have all his reference books around him even inside the high dependency unit (HDU) of Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI) where he was undergoing treatment for late pulmonary sequelae of exposure to the toxic chemicals while conducting autopsies on the Bhopal gas disaster victims. On the 3rd December 2009, the 25th Anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, a team of doctors headed by Dr. V.K. Vijayan, the Director, VPCI, brought Dr. Chari from the intensive care unit (ICU) to the Seminar Hall in the adjoining building to listen to the oration in his name being presented by his colleague, Dr. A.K. Jain. Instead, Dr. Chari requested them to wheel him onto the stage and he gave an extempore oration on his work on the Bhopal gas disaster [Figure 14]. He announced that besides methyl isocyanate, carbon monoxide might have also contributed significantly to the toxic effects and red colourization of the organs of the victims. The previous month, while at Safdarjung Hospital for getting blood tests done, Dr. Chari had quickly visited his office and re-examined the old blood gas analysis reports of the exposees and found raised levels of carbon monoxide in some of them. Was this the answer he was seeking? The solution to this great riddle still seemed elusive. His daughter (this author, SS) later found important clues from Dr. Chari's initial eye-witness account of the autopsy findings in the exposees that may finally provide the correct answers.
Figure 14: 25th Anniversary of Bhopal gas disaster: Extempore oration by Dr. Chari at VPCI, New Delhi, 3rd December 2009

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Dr. Chari had over 140 publications in peer-reviewed journals, and has authored a number of books and monographs. Several prestigious awards and honours were bestowed on him, notably: Basanti Devi Amir Chand award of ICMR, besides Dr. B.C. Roy and Silver Jubilee Research Awards of Medical Council of India. He was a Fellow of various scientific academies and professional bodies: the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS), Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and Indian Academy of Science (IASc); he served as the President of Neurological Society of India in 1961. During the 25 years after retirement, he actively pursued his scientific interests with several honorary assignments such as Pitambar Pant Fellowship of Ministry of Environment, INSA Senior Scientist, INSA Honorary Scientist, and Honorary Advisor, ICMR. For his contributions to the histopathological and toxicological studies on the Bhopal gas disaster, he was conferred the Padmashri in 1985 by the Government of India.

Soon after delivering the Bhopal Gas Disaster Anniversary Oration, Dr. Chari died on 25th December 2009, leaving behind his research legacy with immense contributions to pathology and in particular, neuro-sciences.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Sriramachari S, Pirani CL, Haymaker W. The effect of traumatic injury on the brain of vitamin-C-deficient guinea pigs. Am J Pathol 1956;32:131-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mani KS, Sriramachari S, Rao SL, Sharma PS. Experimental neurolathyrism in monkeys. IJMR 1971;59:880-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Rao SL, Sarma PS, Mani KS, Raghunatha Rao TR, Sriramachari S. Experimental neurolathyrism in monkeys. Nature 1967;214:610-1.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sriramachari S, Patoria NK. Pathology of acute encephalopathy syndrome in children in summer. Ind J Med Res 1976; 64:296-313.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sriramachari S. Editorial – Heat hyperpyrexia – time to act. Indian J Med Res 2004;119:vii-x.  Back to cited text no. 5
Balani DK, Pathak SN, Sriramachari S. Pathology and pathogenesis of experimental extradural cerebral compression. Indian J Med Res 1981; 74:438-61.  Back to cited text no. 6
Klatzo I. Presidential address: Neuropathological aspects of brain edema. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 1967;26:1-14.  Back to cited text no. 7
Balani DK, Pathak SN, Sriramachari S. Reversibility or prevention of brain oedema. Indian J Med Res 1981;74:462-78.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sriramachari S. The Bhopal gas tragedy: An environmental disaster. Current Science 2004; 86:905-20.  Back to cited text no. 9
Sriramachari S. Health effects of the toxic gas leak from Union Carbide methyl isocynate plant in Bhopal: Technical Report on pathology and toxicology (1984 – 1992), ICMR, 2010.  Back to cited text no. 10
Sandhyamani S. Mucoid vasculopathy: Vascular lesions in an autopsy study. Mod Pathol 1993;6:333-41.  Back to cited text no. 11
Sriramachari S, Gopalan C. Aortic changes in induced malnutrition. Ind J Med Sci 1957;11:405-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
Sandhyamani S, Valiathan MS, Saxena HMK. Cardiovascular changes in induced malnutrition. In: SERC Research Highlights, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, February 1995, p 29-36.  Back to cited text no. 13
Sandhyamani S. A monkey model for mucoid vasculopathy. Int Angiol 1992;11:256-60.  Back to cited text no. 14
Sandhyamani S, Vijayakumari A, Balaraman Nair M. Bonnet monkey model for pancreatic changes in induced malnutrition. Pancreas 1999;18:84-95.  Back to cited text no. 15


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9], [Figure 10], [Figure 11], [Figure 12], [Figure 13], [Figure 14]


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Online since 20th March '04
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