Prof. Mahdi Hasan

The Man who put Lucknow on Medicinal Map

Prof. Mahdi Hasan was born on March 21, 1936 in a village Gadayan, Akbarpur (then in Faizabad, now in Ambedkar Nagar), in UP. His father, Jawad Husain, was Tehsildar, posted at that time at Tehsil Mohanlalganj of the District Lucknow, and his mother was Tayyabunnisa Begun. Hasan’s father died when Hasan was four years old, and his mother, being ill, was unable to care for him. His brothers late Bakhshish Husain, a police officer, and Syed Ghulam Husain, an IAS officer, subsequently raised him. However, this did not deter him from pursuing his life with zeal and devotion to his studies and dedication for sports. He used to study at night in the light of a kerosene lamp and play during the day in the fields of the village. He excelled in studies and was appreciated for his sporting prowess. His father wanted him to be a doctor. He himself wanted to be a teacher. Finally he became both, and a sportsman too in the bargain. In 1950, Hasan enrolled in the Christian College at Lucknow, where he did his Intermediate. Thereafter he did his B.Sc. I year from Lucknow University and in 1952 he was selected in M.B.B.S. at King George Medical College. After graduation, he joined the Department of Anatomy as a Demonstrator in the year 1958 and worked till early 1963. He did his post graduation in Anatomy from KGMC. Thereafter, he moved to the J.N. Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, where he would spend the bulk of his career. It was in 1958 that he got married to Abida Kazim, who was an MA in Urdu, a rare achievement at that time for a woman from a Muslim family.

His persistent endeavour was to pursue basic medical research and his main thrust was to study problems of national relevance, such as environmental pollution, pesticide and metal neurotoxicity and brain aging. His commitment and dedication to acquire and disseminate knowledge can also be judged from the fact that during the last 6 months of his life, when he was very seriously ill, he worked earnestly to complete a book on Treacher Collins Syndrome. He would sit for long hours with swollen legs kept on stool writing the book, which he completed in December 2012, a month before his death. Fortunately, the book was published a few days before his death when he was in the intensive care unit. Dr. Hasan, all through his illustrious academic career spanning around 55 years (1958–2013), fought a relentless battle and succeeded in giving a completely new orientation to the teaching of anatomy.

He has to his credit about five books, seven book chapters, 125 research papers in indexed journals. His research work has earned him over 600 citations including those in the prestigious Nature, Gray’s Anatomy, and NIOSH and in 38 other reference works. He was indeed a man of parts, combines excellent teaching and research capabilities with societal concerns and social commitments.

Hasan spent many years trying to establish a Brain Research facility at Aligarh. With assistance from the German government, he succeeded in 1980 with the establishment of the first Interdisciplinary Brain Research Centre. He has been an internationally renowned anatomist, a pioneering brain researcher and a reputed national expert of medical education and have been rewarded with a no. of awards. A few to name are Dr. S.S. Misra Medal of National Academy of Medical Sciences (India), Dr. Dharam Narayan Gold Medal of the Anatomical Society of India (1977), Ati Vishisht Chikitsa Medal of College of Chest Physicians of India (1995), Sushruta Award of World Academy of Integrated Medicine (WAIM) 2002, Dr. Bachawat Life-Time Achievement Award of Indian Academy of Neurosciences (2004) and Dr. Tirumurti Award of Indian National Science Academy (2010).

Professor Hasan was a person who had utmost devotion, dedication and determination in acquiring, creating and disseminating knowledge. Seldom does one find a nucleus around which an institution is build, but it goes to the credit of Professor Mahdi Hasan that at least three premier medical institutions of North India will always fondly cherish his memory. KGMC will always remember him as its illustrious student and teacher; Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh will always remember him as an excellent, dedicated and devoted teacher; and Era’s Lucknow Medical College, Lucknow (a medical institution founded around him) will find it difficult to overlook its founder Director-Principal and Trustee. Alas! This renowned medical teacher breathed his last on 12 January 2013 after fighting a relentless battle against cancer of the prostrate. He had been at Imambara Gufran Ma’ab sahib. His wife, Mrs Abida Mahdi died soon after on 24 February 2013.

Many Firsts In India To The Credit Of Mahdi Hasan

  1. First in India to have obtained M.S. with Honours in Anatomy.
  2. First Anatomist of the Country to be selected by Govt. of India for German Academic Exchange Fellowship (DAAD) in 1965.
  3. First Anatomist of India to have learnt electron microscopy and published a large number of research papers using this technique from 1966 onwards.
  4. First and only Indian Anatomist to be chosen a Fellow of Alexander von-Humboldt Foundation (Germany).
  5. First to publish a new “in vivo” method of staining zinc (Experientia Switzerland) 1977.
  6. First Indian Anatomist to have earned both Ph.D. and D.Sc.
  7. First and only Indian Anatomist to be conferred both the Hari Om Ashram Alembic Award (1978) and Dr. B.C. Roy National Award (1991-92).
  8. First to establish an Interdisciplinary Brain Research Centre in India (1977).
  9. First Indian Anatomist to be appointed an Adviser in Neurotoxicology by WHO (Geneva).
  10. First Indian Anatomist who presided over the First Afro- Asian Oceana Congress of Anatomists organized by AIIMS, in September 1988 at Hotel Ashok, New Delhi.
  11. First and only Indian Anatomist to be appointed a member of the Governing Body of ICMR.
  12. First and only Indian Anatomist to be appointed chairman of the Medical Committee of the Indian Red Cross.
  13. First Indian Anatomist to be elected a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and also its Senior Scientist.
  14. First in India whose academic and social contributions comprise the main theme of a Malayalam Short Story “Jeevacchavangal” (Living Cadaver) by Punathil Kunjabdullah in 1972 (translated into Hindi, Urdu, English, French and Russian language) and won the gyanpeeth puraskar for the same.
  15. First Anatomist in recognition of whose meritorious contributions to clinical anatomy, a Gold Medal Award was instituted by the Anatomical Society of India in 1990 (continues till date).
  16. First and only Indian Anatomist to be awarded Padma Shri by Government of India.

Positions held :

  • Demonstrator in Anatomy, King George’s Medical College, Lucknow (06.11.1958 to 30.04.1963)
  • Lecturer in Anatomy, King George’s Medical College, (01.05.1963 to 17.10.1963)
  • Reader in Anatomy, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, AMU, Aligarh (18.10.1963 to 31.03.1972)
  • Professor of Anatomy, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, AMU, Aligarh (1972-1996)
  • Director, Interdisciplinary Brain Research Centre, JNMC, AMU, Aligarh (1980-1993)
  • Medical Superintendent JNMCH, AMU, Aligarh (1983- 1985)
  • Principal and Chief Medical Superintendent, JNMC, AMU, Aligarh (1984-1987)
  • Dean Students Welfare, AMU, Aligarh (1988-1989) Dean, Faculty of Medicine, JNMC, Aligarh (1991-1993)
  • Guest Faculty, Department of Anatomy, KG Medical College, Lucknow University (1997-1999)
  • Emeritus Medical Scientist ICMR, New Delhi INSA Senior Scientist (2003-2006)
  • Member of NAAC (National and Accreditation Council of Govt. of India) Feb 2010
  • INSA Hon. Scientist, Dept. Of Anatomy, CSM Medical University,Lucknow (2006-2011)

President of :

  • Indian Academy of Neurosciences -1986
  • First Afro-Asian Oceana Congress of Anatomists held at Hotel Ashoka, organized by All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi -1988
  • Association of Gerontology-India -1992 -Anatomical Society of India.

Fellow of :

  • National Academy of Medical Science (India) [FAMS] -Indian National Science Academy [FNA]
  • National Academy of Sciences, India [FNAS]


Writer a is student, an aspiring painter & calligrapher

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 1 Issue 10, Dated 05 January 2015)

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