Vasant Ramji Khanolkar obtained his MD degree (1923) from the University of London, UK; LLD (hc) from the University of Melbourne, Australia and DMS (hc) from Perugia, Italy. His area of specialization was pathology. He was Professor of Pathology, Grant Medical College (1924-26); Professor of Pathology and Bacteriology, Seth GS Medical College, and Pathologist, Kind Edward VII Memorial Hospital, Mumbai (1926-41); Director of Laboratories and Research, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai (1941-51), Honorary Director (1951-78); Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Poona (1951-54); Founder Director, Indian Cancer Research Centre, Mumbai (1952-63); Vice-Chancellor, University of Bombay (1960-63); and National Research Professor of Medicine, Indian Cancer Research Centre, Mumbai (1963-73).
Academic and Research Achievements: Khanolkar's pioneering scientific work in cancer research in India won him international fame. He made intensive surveys on the habits, customs and usages in different regions of the country to understand the causes of cancer. He was one of the first to identify chewing of tobacco, pan and betel nuts a cause of oral cancer. His work on histopathology of human tumours is well known. Khanolkar's range of work extended to leprosy, reproductive physiology, blood groups with particular reference to Rh-factor.
Other Contributions: Khanolkar was a member of Medical Council of India, All-India Council of Post-Graduate Medical Education and Indian Association of Pathologists (Founder President, 1950-54). He served on numerous policy-making bodies, especially those concerned with cancer research as also medical education. He took active interest in family planning programmes with a view to raising the standard of living of the Indian people.
Awards and Honours: Khanolkar was the President, Medical and Veterinary Section of Indian Science Congress (1952). He received Padma Bhushan from Government of India (1955). He was conferred with JC Bose Memorial Lectureship of Indian Radiological Association (1960) and Dr ND Patel Lecture of KEM Hospital, Mumbai (1963). Khanolkar was a Member of pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Institute of Biology (London) and International Academy of Pathology. He was a Fellow of National Academy of Medical Sciences, India (President, 1962-63); Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; Society of Biological Chemists, India (President, 1960-61); Honorary Member of American Association for Cancer Research and American Cancer Society; Foreign Member of Academy of Medical Sciences, USSR; Honorary Life Member of New York Academy of Sciences; Honorary Fellow of Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh) and Royal Society of Medicine (London). He was President of INSA (1965-66).