Harbans Singh Randhawa received MSc (Hons School, Botany) from Panjab University in 1956. He joined Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI), Delhi, as Assistant Research Officer (Mycologist) in an ICMR research project on etiopathogenesis of bagassosis led by Professor Raman Viswanathan. He was awarded PhD (Medical Mycology) in 1964 by the University of Delhi. He had postdoctoral training in fungal infections at the Institute of Dermatology, London, UK, (1964-65) under a Nuffield Foundation Fellowship, and as Senior Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (1970-71) in Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany. In 1980, he worked at the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, USA under a Fulbright-Hay's Academic Exchange Program. Randhawa's first regular faculty appointment was as a Junior Research Officer in the newly established Department of Medical Mycology, VPCI, in 1959. He later rose to the positions of Senior Reseach Officer (1965), Professor of Medical Mycology (1981) and Director, VPCI (1991-98). Following supperanuation in 1998, he has remained actively engaged in research as an INSA Honorary Scientist in the same institute.
Academic & Research Achievements: Randhawa has made significant pioneering contributions to the study of pulmonary and systemic mycoses in India and mentored a number of PhD scholars in Medical Mycology, an emerging superspeciality. His noteworthy researches include discovery of several new fungi such as Candida viswanathii, introduction of many inovative/new laboratory diagnostic techniques, microbial culture media and documentation of indigenous prevalence of blastomycosis, allergic bronchopulmanory aspergillosis, nocardiosis, farmer's lung disease, etc., which frequently masqueraded as tuberculosis in India. His work is widely cited in text books of Medical Mycology/Microbiology. He has authored over 150 research papers and critical reviews in peer-reviewed journals.
Other Contributions: In recognition of his significant contribution to the study of human pathogenic fungi, the German-speaking Mycological Society (Deutschsprachige Mykologische Gesellschaft) elected him in 1971 as its Corresponding Member. The International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM) elected him as Vice President in 1985, and Honorary Member in 1997. He was the first medical mycologist from India to have been so honored by these learned international mycological societies.
He served as Editor/ Editorial Board member of several scientific periodicals. This includes Medical Mycology (formerly J. Med. Vet. Med. & Vet. Mycology and Sabouraudia), 1972-2010, published by Intern. Soc. for Human & Animal Mycology, Mycoses (formerly Mykosen), a monthly periodical of German- speaking Mycological Society, and Indian J. Chest Diseases & Allied Sciences, 1981-98.
Awards and Honours: Professor Randhawa is the only Indian medical mycologist to have received the prestigious Lucille Georg Research Award by the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (1994). In his earlier carrier, he had received several coveted research fellowships such as of the Nuffield Foundation (UK), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) and Fulbright Hay- Hay's Academic exchange Program (USA). Besides, he was a recepient of the First Shome Memorial Oration by the Mycological Society of India (1981), Warner-NCCP Chest Oration (1983), Raman Viswanathan Chest Oration, National College of Chest Physicians, India (1995) and Professor Raman Viswanthan VPCI Oration (2004). More recently (2010), a new fungus, Cryptococcus randhawaii, has been named in his honour.