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August 2016

In Memoriam: Noshir H. Wadia, MD, FRCP(London), FNA, FASc, FAMS, DSc(Hons) (1925-2016)

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 2Editor, JAMA Neurology
  • 3World Federation of Neurology, Chester House, Fulham Green, London, United Kingdom
JAMA Neurol. 2016;73(8):1035-1036. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.1860

Noshir Wadia, MD, was born on January 20, 1925. He is universally recognized as the founder of contemporary Indian neurology. He completed his graduation and postgraduation at the Grant Medical College and J J Hospital, Bombay, India (1950). He then passed the membership examination of the Royal College of Physicians, London (1952), and received his training to be a neurologist through 5 years (1952-1956) as Registrar in London under the tutorship of the internationally renowned neurologist Sir Russell Brain (later Lord Brain).

Noshir H. Wadia, MD, FRCP(London), FNA, FASc, FAMS, DSc(Hons)

He returned in 1957 to join his alma mater to set up one of the first comprehensive Departments of Neurology, which became internationally known by 1961. He served as Honorary Professor of Neurology until 1982 and was designated as Consultant Neurologist for Life. He was Director Emeritus, Department of Neurology, at Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, another comprehensive department he set up in 1973 as director.

Prof Wadia became known as an astute clinician, teacher, and researcher. He tutored nearly 100 neurologists and physicians, several of whom have become renowned and are proud to acclaim him as their mentor. His research covered a range of neurological diseases, revealing the unique prevalence of certain diseases in India, describing some for the first time including a variant of hereditary ataxia, enterovirus 70 disease, neurological manifestations of congenital atlanto-axial dislocation, spinal tuberculous meningitis, and Wilson disease. Much of his early research was conducted before the computed tomographic or magnetic resonance scanners were invented, and funds and foreign exchange were short to buy even equipment that was primitive by today’s standards.

He was elected President of the Neurological Society of India in 1964 and Vice President of the World Federation of Neurology in 1989, an organization in which he served on several committees for nearly 45 years. He was a fellow of the Indian Academy of Medical Sciences (and its Emeritus Professor), the Indian National Science Academy, and the Indian Academy of Sciences, a rare honor for clinicians. He was an honorary member of the Sociedad Neurologica, Argentina; Sociedad Chilena de Neurologica, Chile; Austrian Society of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology; and honorary foreign member of the Association of British Neurologists. He was elected as corresponding member of the American Neurological Association in 1977 and elected as its Honorary Member in 2004 and then a fellow, an exceptional honor.

He was awarded the Honorary DSc of the Banaras Hindu University in 1999 and was a member of the Governing Council and Institute bodies of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, an institute of national importance, for a number of years, finally serving as its President (Chancellor) for more than 7 years.

He was examiner at several universities and on committees of the Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Science Technology, Government of India. He delivered many prestigious orations and lectures at home and abroad and was honored by several organizations and institutions through awards such as the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal for excellence in General Science (2003) and Dhanwantari Prize (2006) for outstanding work in Medical Science of the Indian National Science Academy, the first Wockhardt Harvard Award for pioneering and immense contributions in the specialty of Neurology, the first Rameshwardas Birla Award for an outstanding practising clinician in Modern Medicine, and the Dhanvantari award for outstanding contribution in medicine by the Dhanvantari Medical Foundation.

He contributed approximately 150 papers in international journals and published a book, Neurological Practice: an Indian Perspective (2005), which encapsulated the research publications of Indian neurologists over the last 50 years and received laudatory reviews. The second edition of this book was published in 2015. He was involved all his life as a founder or member of various organizations of the neurologically disabled and as president of an academy whose avowed aim is to arouse science awareness in senior school students in villages in India and to enthuse medical students to undertake research.

It is relevant to mention that he was a hostage of war taken off a flight in Lisbon while traveling after a World Federation of Neurology meeting in South America and incarcerated in a prison by Dictator Salazar’s police immediately after Goa was liberated. He was released after 2 months. He took this traumatic experience in his stride to continue his medical and scientific pursuits, revealing his equanimity.

For his many achievements, the World Federation of Neurology awarded him the first gold medal for “service to international neurology,” instituted in 2009. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India in recognition of his exceptional and distinguished service in the field of medicine in 2012.

Indian and world neurology have been honored and advanced by the scholarship of Prof Wadia. He is not only a neurologist for our time, but for all time.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Roger N. Rosenberg, MD, Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75390-9036 (roger.rosenberg@utsouthwestern.edu).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.