Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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OBITUARY
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 259-260
 

In Memorium: Prof. Jagjit S. Chopra, DCH, FRCP, PhD, FAMS, FIAN


1 Honorary Professor of Neurology, Swansea University, Consultant Neurologist and Clinical Director Neurosciences, ABM University Health Board, Morriston Hospital Swansea, SA6 6NL, UK
2 Emeritus Professor of Neurosurgery, PGIMER, Chandigarh, 160101, Former Director-Principal, Government Medical College, Chandigarh, and Secretary Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh Administration, India

Date of Web Publication9-Apr-2019

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Inder M S. Sawhney
Honorary Professor of Neurology, Swansea University, Consultant Neurologist and Clinical Director Neurosciences, ABM University Health Board, Morriston Hospital Swansea, SA6 6NL
UK
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_112_19

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How to cite this article:
S. Sawhney IM, Kak VK. In Memorium: Prof. Jagjit S. Chopra, DCH, FRCP, PhD, FAMS, FIAN. Ann Indian Acad Neurol 2019;22:259-60

How to cite this URL:
S. Sawhney IM, Kak VK. In Memorium: Prof. Jagjit S. Chopra, DCH, FRCP, PhD, FAMS, FIAN. Ann Indian Acad Neurol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 23];22:259-60. Available from: http://www.annalsofian.org/text.asp?2019/22/2/259/255675






The World Federation of Neurology honored Prof. Jagjit Singh Chopra (JSC) with Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2017 at Kyoto, Japan. His achievements were applauded at the world stage in his absence, as he could not attend the meeting because of a disabling stroke. Padma Bhushan awardee JSC nurtured the Department of Neurology at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, to its glory. He breathed his last in Chandigarh on 18 January 2019, plunging the neurology community worldwide, his friends and colleagues, into gloom with the loss of a distinguished neurologist.

JSC was born on 15 June 1935 in Lahore (now in Pakistan). His father, Dr. Mohan Singh, was a medical practitioner in Lahore. He had later shifted his practice to Fazilka (Punjab) and had the unique distinction of having served as a jailor as well, and had a street named after him in Fazilka. JSC had his early school education in Fazilka and completed his medical graduation from the Government Medical College, Patiala (Punjab University), in 1959. He proceeded to the United Kingdom after one year's house job at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, and worked at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, and later in the Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. He was trained under neurology stalwarts like Drs. RS Allison, JHD Miller, LJ Hurwitz, and MW Swallow. He passed the examination for Diploma in Child Health (DCH) from the Royal College of Physicians, London, in 1962, and obtained MRCP (Edinburgh) with specialization in neurology in 1963. He was the youngest Indian to be awarded FRCP (Edinburgh) in 1969. He was awarded PhD by the Queen's University, Belfast, in 1967 for extensive research on diabetic neuropathy.

He first met Dr. Vijay K. Kak (VKK) undergoing training in neurosurgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, in 1964. During this period, JSC happened to meet his former teacher, Dr. PN Chuttani, then Dean, PGIMER, Chandigarh, in an elevator in London. In the brief encounter, JSC expressed his desire to return to India. “Boy, go and pack your bags, I have given you the job,” said Dr. Chuttani to his bright student. That is how Dr. JS Chopra joined PGIMER, Chandigarh, in 1968, as an Assistant Professor of Neurology and gradually rose to become Professor of Neurology till his superannuation in June 1995. Dr. Chuttani also requested him to bring a good neurosurgeon, and he was instrumental in persuading VKK to join PGIMER in 1969. This association, which began in Belfast, was cemented and flourished in Chandigarh, until JSC's demise!

JSC was instrumental in setting up a world-class Department of Neurology and Research Laboratory at PGIMER, Chandigarh, and dedicated his entire life to establish model clinical, teaching, and research facilities in the department. He started the DM (Neurology) training program at PGIMER, Chandigarh, and trained several superspecialists in neurology, most of whom are heading departments at various establishments in India and abroad. He also trained many specialists in neurology for the Armed Forces of India. Neurology training during his tenure was very rigorous and none of his trainees can forget the teaching at Saturday grand rounds, where the emphasis used to be on clinical neurology. He was a man who appeared very tough in his professional and academic dealings, but was endowed with a very kind heart and always went an extra mile to help everyone, especially his students. He had the reputation of being a hard taskmaster, a strict disciplinarian, and an immaculate clinician. He retired in 1995 but continued as Professor Emeritus at PGIMER, Chandigarh. He was also selected as National Lecturer by University Grants Commission and lectured at various medical institutions across the country. The National Academy of Medical Sciences (India), New Delhi, also honored him with Emeritus Professorship. He was awarded Dr. BC Roy National Award as an eminent medical teacher.

He was selected as the Secretary General of the World Congress of Neurology, which was organized successfully at New Delhi in 1989. He has the distinction of having been associated with World Federation of Neurology from 1985 till date in various capacities, which includes Co-chairman of the Finance Committee, Vice-Chairman Research Group on Organization and Delivery of Neurological Services, and Editor-in-Chief of World Neurology from 1999 to 2009. He was the first Indian neurologist ever to be nominated for the post of President of WFN in 2005.

JSC has contributed immensely in the field of neurosciences research and education. He has conducted research in muscle diseases, peripheral nerves, young strokes, and infections of the nervous system and has guided over a dozen of PhD theses. He has published nearly 250 scientific research papers in journals of national and international repute. He was Editor-in-Chief for Text Book of Neurology, and Neurology India, a publication of the Neurological Society of India, for 6 years. He has written about 50 chapters in various books and monographs, published in India and abroad. He served on the editorial board of several journals. Age did not dampen his enthusiasm for neurology. He had a firm belief that there was no limit on gaining knowledge and giving it back to the world. He coedited Neurology in Tropics in his 80s and was a force behind meeting the deadlines for its publication.

JSC was deputed to Chandigarh Administration as the Founder Director-Principal of Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, with additional charge of the post of Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh Administration, from 1991 to 1995. He planned the Medical College and Hospital on a modular basis. Today, it is ranked 9th in the country!

JSC is the Founder President of Indian Academy of Neurology (1993–1994), his brainchild, and Past President of Neurological Society of India (2003). He has been a Member, Executive Committee of International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology; selected as Honorary Member of American Academy of Neurology and American Neurological Association; and Member, London Medical Society, Association of British Neurologists, and Ulster Medical Society. He was elected as the Fellow of Medical Society of London and National Academy of Medical Sciences (India), New Delhi. JSC has been a Member of Advisory Groups/Panels of Medical Education and Training of National Board of Examinations, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), NIHMANS, Bangalore, Indian Council of Child Welfare, Chandigarh, and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. He has been a Member of several International Scientific Program Advisory Committees. He was nominated as a Senator to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, Punjab, by the Governor of Punjab.

JSC has been the recipient of several awards and orations, including 9th Amrut Modi Research Award, Pelipu Perindevi Suriya Award of Pharmacological Society of India, MN Sen Oration Award of ICMR, Life Time Achievement Award in Neurosciences, Madras Neuro Trust, Dr MS Sanjeev Rao Oration, Dr RS Allison Oration, Belfast, UK, Baldev Singh Orations, NSI and National Academy of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Vishist Chikitsha Gold Medal by Association of Chest Physicians of India, Award by Pan Arab Union of Neurological Societies, Emirates Medical Association and Emirates Neurological Society and Emirates League against Epilepsy, and Awards from Pakistan Neurological Society and Epilepsy Association of Pakistan. He was awarded the Parman Patra by S Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab in 2007, and Padma Bhushan (the third highest national award) by the President of India in 2008.

He was a brilliant organizer, an excellent clinician, and mentor to a large number of neurologists all over the world. JSC was happily married to Mrs. Amarjit Chopra, who passed away just over a year ago. He is survived by his children Brinder and Harvin and two grandchildren. Prof. Chopra will be immensely missed in the world of neurology and will live forever in the hearts of his students and colleagues. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his contribution to neurosciences and for his never-ending faith in the potential of his students.






 

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