There have been several scientists in India who made a real case for themselves as the best brains in the field of science. Though many have been honoured for their outstanding achievements for their works, there are few others who have been left out in science books.
Dr. Yellapragada Subbarao, a scientist who totally revolutionised the field of medicine now remains as a forgotten scientist. Let’s take a moment to appreciate his success and his inspiring story is one that needs to be told to the youths of the nation.
Dr Subbarao was born in Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh in 1895. During his early life, he had to face so many obstacles. After finishing his matriculation, he then enrolled himself in Madras Medical College. At the need of the hour, his friends supported him in education. He got support from Kasturi Suryanarayana Murthy, whose daughter he married lateron.
Despite performing well in college, his British professor granted him only a lesser LMS degree rather than a full MBBS. But he wouldn’t mind too much about it as he was pretty much focussed on changing his future. He was interested in Ayurveda and so he took up a job as Lecturer in Anatomy at Dr. Lakshmipathi’s Ayurvedic College. His father in law guided him with finances so he could finally go to pursue studies in the US.
He sailed for the United States on October 26, 1922, and then took admission in the Harvard School of Tropical Medicine. After being done with his studies, he joined Harvard as a Junior Faculty member. He then resigned this job in 1940 and held a position with Lederle Laboratories.
His first achieved success with the discovery of the Fiske-Subbarao method, which helped calculate the amount of phosphorous in body fluids and tissues.
This sensational discovery was followed by a string of achievements, including the discovery of the ATP molecule (one which provides energy to our body), and Aureomycin, a first of its kind antibiotic stronger than both penicillin and streptomycin, which helped save millions of lives around the world. Dr Subbarao deserves a lot of respect but sadly he was ignored by media and history books.
He also helped develop Methotrexate, one of the first chemotherapy agents that is still used widely. Humans were not the only ones to benefit from his research; Hetrazen, a drug used to treat fibrosis in animals, was introduced by him too. He also spearheaded US medical research during World War II.
Despite possessing such an incredible track record, media didn’t praise Subbarao.
Subbarao passed away aged 53 due to cardiac arrest on the August 9, 1948.
“You’ve probably never heard of Dr. Yellapragada Subba Rao. Yet, because he lived you may be well and alive today; because he lived you may live longer,” said American author Doron Antrim.