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From Mid-Day Newspaper

Nobel Laureate's lab in ruins
   By: Kavita Krishnan
   March 24, 2004
Room with a view: This room in J J Hospital, where Dr Robert Koch worked when he was in India investigating the plague epidemic, is now being used to preserve research material.
Even as the medical community marks World Tuberculosis Day today, the room at Sir J J Group of Hospitals, which Nobel Laureate Dr Robert Koch who isolated the tuberculosis-causing bacterium once used, lies in ruins.

Weeds grow at the doorstep, the floor is covered in dust, some windowpanes are broken and the door to the room has no commemorative plaque.

In fact, few people even know that the Nobel Laureate once worked there. “I first heard of it from a professor in another part of Maharashtra,” said Dr D N Lanjewar, head, pathology at the hospital. “The entire structure is in bad condition. The rear portion of the building has fallen down. We only use the room to preserve research material,” he added.

Dr Koch had visited India twice. In 1886, he led a team to Calcutta to investigate a cholera epidemic and discovered Vibrio Cholerae — the bacteria that causes cholera. In 1892, he travelled to Mumbai to investigate an outbreak of plague and to study other infectious diseases.

“He stayed at J J hospital for about 18 months then and had also lectured at the Grant Medical College,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, a former student and currently honorary assistant professor in medicine. “Even back then, he wanted a world free of tuberculosis,” added Dr Joshi. 

Hospital authorities are trying to preserve their bit of history.

“We want to make a Tropical Diseases Museum dedicated to Dr Koch in that room, but that requires funds,” said Dr Lanjewar. The hospital, he added, already has the necessary infrastructure for the museum.
Dr Robert Koch

Dr Robert Koch was born on December 11, 1843, at Clausthal, Germany. He went on to study medicine at the University of Gottingen.
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1905, Dr Koch put forth the idea that certain microbes cause certain diseases.

The approach has helped extensively in finding cures for diseases like tuberculosis and cholera.

His discoveries

1882: Mycobacterium Tuberculi — the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.s

1883: Vibrio Cholerae — the bacteria that causes cholera.

July 2004

From the Times of India newspaper, August 2007