Neurol India Home 

Year : 2016  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 845--846

Professor Noshir Hormusjee Wadia: A Doyen of Indian Neurology

Prakash N Tandon 
 National Research Professor, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Haryana, India

Correspondence Address:
Prakash N Tandon
National Research Professor, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Haryana

How to cite this article:
Tandon PN. Professor Noshir Hormusjee Wadia: A Doyen of Indian Neurology.Neurol India 2016;64:845-846

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Tandon PN. Professor Noshir Hormusjee Wadia: A Doyen of Indian Neurology. Neurol India [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Jul 10 ];64:845-846
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The birth of Neurosciences, both basic and clinical, in India, virtually coincides with our Independence, there being no formally trained neuroscientists prior to that in the country. Prof. Baldev Singh, the first Head of the Department of Neurology at AIIMS who initiated this specialty at Christian Medical College, Vellore in 1951, is acknowledged to be the founder of Neurology in the country. This was soon followed by Dr. T.K. Ghosh in Calcutta (Kolkata); Drs. E.P. Bharucha, N.H. Wadia, A. D. Desai in Bombay (Mumbai); and K.S. Mani in Bangalore (Bengaluru), among others.

Born on 20 January 1925 in Surat, Gujarat, Dr. Wadia received his medical education at the Grant Medical College, Bombay (Mumbai). He obtained the MBBS degree in 1948, MD (Medicine) in 1950, and MRCP (London) in 1952. He devoted the next four years (1952-56) to specialize in Neurology at Newcastle and London. His brilliant academic record led to his selection as a Registrar under the most renowned British Neurologist of the era, Lord Brain, to work at the famous National Hospital for Nervous Diseases and the London Hospital.

Young and highly trained, Noshir decided to return home and was appointed an Honorary Assistant Neurologist at the Grant Medical College and the J. J. Hospital in 1957, where he rose to become Honorary Professor (1968-82) and was later appointed as Consultant for Life. He was invited to be Director, Neurology Department at the Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre in 1973 and later, as Director Research, a position he adorned till the last.

An astute clinician and a much sought after teacher, Dr. Wadia was keenly interested in advancing knowledge like several of his contemporaries and attempted to identify the differences between the patterns and presentations of neurological disturbances as compared to those observed in the West. Thus, his earliest publications like “Myelopathy complicating congenital atlanto-axial dislocation” published in Brain in two parts (88, 897-924, 1965; 90,449-472, 1967), or “Spinal meningitis with radiculo-myelopathy” in Journal of Neurological Sciences (8, 239-260, 1969 and 8, 261- 297, 1969)” remain as classics even today. Similarly, his investigations on manganese toxicity in workers in the ferro-manganese plants resulted in the oft-quoted study, “The toxic effects of heavy metals on the nervous system” (Neurology India 12, 29-41, 1964). Besides the important papers that he published on some uncommon neurological disorders in India like subacute myelo-optic neuropathy, Wilson's Disease and a higher prevalence of multiple sclerosis (otherwise uncommon in India), he described two new diseases not previously reported in the world: (i) a new form of heredo-familial spino-cerebellar degeneration with slow-eye movements, (Brain 94, 359-374, 1971); and, (ii) a polio- like illness associated with epidemic conjunctivitis (Enterovirus 70 disease) (Lancet 2, 970-71, 1972; Lancet 1, 350-352, 1973; J. Neurology, Neurosurgery Psychiatry 46, 599-610, 1983). He not only provided detailed clinical features but also correlated these with the underlying pathology. His over 130 papers, and a dozen chapters in prestigious books would belie those who believe that, owing to their heavy work-load, busy clinicians have little time to contribute to new knowledge. Not satisfied with his internationally recognized scientific contributions, as a consequence of his passion to project Indian Neurology, he published books highlighting the neurological disease scenario in India and contributions of Indian neuroscientists (Neurological Practice, editor NH Wadia, 2005). The 2nd edition of this book was coauthored along with Dr. S.V. Khadilkar in 2015 and published by Elsevier India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.

Dr. Wadia, while providing exemplary service to the neurologically disabled in Maharashtra, was called upon for his advice nationally as a Member of the Expert Committee on Neurology (1963-66) and as a Member of the Scientific Advisory Board (1989-91) of the Indian Council of Medical Research. He served initially as a Chairman of the Governing Body and later as President of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

His contributions to world neurology was recognized by the World Federation of Neurology which conferred the Certificate of Appreciation for Services to Neurology (1993). He was the first recipient of the prestigious Medal and Prize for service to International Neurology in 2009.

Dr. Wadia was a recipient of a large number of awards and recognitions which included the first R.D. Birla Award for an Outstanding Practicing Clinician in Modern Medicine (1999); S.S. Bhatnagar Medal (2003) and Shri Dhanwantari Prize (2006) by the Indian National Science Academy; and Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Excellence by Harvard Medical International and Wockhardt Ltd. for pioneering and immense contributions in the specialty of Neurology (2003).

Dr. Wadia was the President of the Neurological Society of India (1963-64). He was an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences (1972), Indian Academy of Sciences (1983), and Indian National Science Academy (1986). In addition, he was conferred the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, London (1972); elected Honorary Member of the Sociedad Neurologica, Argentina (1961); Sociedad Chilean de Neurologica (1961); American Neurological Association (1977) and a Foreign Member of the Association of British Neurologists (1979). He was awarded the Padma Bhushan award in 2012.

I have had the privilege to be counted among his friends. He was a gentleman in the classical mould, polite, courteous, modest to a fault and with an old-wordly sense of humour. He leaves behind a loving wife Piroja, to whom he paid a tribute in his own words; “I owe an immense debt of often unappreciated and silent partner in much of work and research.........”.

In passing away of Dr. Wadia on 9th April, 2016, the country in particular and the neurology community internationally has lost a caring physician, a dedicated teacher and a brilliant mind.