Indira Nath nee Neti Indira Rao received MBBS from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. After the mandatory hospital training undertaken in UK, she returned to AIIMS for MD (Pathology). She was prompted to specialize in immunology due to her exposure to the new discipline while in UK availing the Nuffield Fellowship (1970). She decided to work in the area of infectious diseases, particularly leprosy which was a major concern in India at that time. She worked with Professor John Turk at the Royal College of Surgeons and Dr RJW Rees at the National Institute for Medical Research, London and then joined Faculty in AIIMS. She first joined Professor GP Talwar's Department of Biochemistry which had just initiated immunology research in India; then moved back to the Department of Pathology (1980), became Head of the new Department of Biotechnology (1986) at AIIMS, and continued to work there as INSA-SN Bose Research Professor even after her retirement (1998). She was invited as Dean of School of Medicine in Asian Institute of Medicine, Engineering and Technology in Malaysia and subsequently as Director of Blue Peter Research Centre (Lepra Research Centre), Hyderabad. She also received DSc (hc) from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris (2002).
Academic and Research Achievements: Indira Nath made pioneering contributions to immunology research by her seminal work on cellular immune responses in human leprosy. Throughout her career spanning over three decades, her research contributions centered around mechanisms underlying immune unresponsiveness in man, reactions and nerve damage in leprosy and a search for markers for viability of the leprosy bacillus which is not cultivable. She has over 120 publications, invited reviews, opinion/comments on recent developments in prestigious international journals. She also mentored many MBiotech, MD and PhD students.
Other Contributions: Indira Nath made notable contributions to education, medical and science policies, and Women Scientists' Issues at both national and international levels. She also contributed to the development of immunology through various courses at AIIMS. She founded and established the Department of Biotechnology at AIIMS. She was Member, Scientific Advisory Committee to Cabinet, Foreign Secretary INSA (1995-97), Council Member (1992-94, 1998-2006) and Vice President (2001-03) of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, and Chairperson, Women Scientists Programme, DST (2003).
Awards and Honours: Professor Indira Nath was conferred numerous awards, notably: Padmashri (1999), Chevalier Ordre National du Merite, France (2003), Silver Banner, Tuscanny, Italy (2003), L'Oreal UNESCO Award for Women in Science (Asia Pacific) (2002), SS Bhatnagar Award (1983), JALMA Trust Oration Award by ICMR (1981), Kshanika Award by ICMR (1984), 1st Nitya Anand Endowment Lecture Award by INSA (1987), Clayton Memorial Lecture Award (1988), Om Prakash Bhasin Award (1990), Basanti Devi Amir Chand Award by ICMR (1994), Cochrane Research Award, UK (1995) and RD Birla Award (1995). She was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1988), Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1990), National Academy of Medical Sciences (India) (1992), Royal College of Pathology (1992) and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) (1995).