Nobel Laureate's lab in ruins
By: Kavita Krishnan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 1882: Mycobacterium
Tuberculi — the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.s
• 1883: Vibrio Cholerae — the bacteria that causes