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Meet India's Soumya Swaminathan, second in command in WHO's new team

She was part of the committee that drafted the surrogacy bill, which was passed by the union cabinet in 2016

Veena Mani  |  New Delhi 

Soumya Swaminathan
Soumya Swaminathan. Photo courtesy: @doctorsoumya twitter handle

Scientist and Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) chief Dr has been appointed as the deputy director general of the (WHO). This means she is the second in command in the organisation.

has been keenly involved with the to bring in industry participation in medical research. Some of Swaminathan's interest areas have been (TB) and other lung diseases, especially drug-resistant  

After completing her MBBS from AFMC, Pune, she did MD in pediatrics from AIIMS, New Delhi. Further training included a fellowship in neonatology and pediatric pulmonology at the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, University of Southern California, USA, and a research fellowship in the department of pediatric respiratory diseases, Leicester University, United Kingdom. 

She joined the Research Centre, Chennai, in 1992 and has spent the past 23 years in health research. Her research interests include pediatric and adult tuberculosis, epidemiology and pathogenesis, the role of nutrition and HIV-associated  

Her position at the WHO comes after she has already been part of various expert panels like the UNAIDS, WHO's top TB department, among others.

Not just in the field of clinical research, has been involved in the area of women's health as well. She was part of the committee that drafted the surrogacy bill, which was passed by the union cabinet in 2016. Working in the grassroots, she tends to give simple ideas to make existing health infrastructure more efficient. 

One of her recent tweets from a public health centre at Palghar district in Maharashtra is a classic example.

The tweet reads:

She was on several WHO and global advisory bodies and committees, including the WHO expert panel to review global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property, the strategic and technical advisory group of the global TB department at WHO, and as co-chair of the Lancet Commission on TB.

She received her academic training in India, the United Kingdom and the United States and has published more than 250 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters.

is the daughter of agriculture scientist M S  

First Published: Wed, October 04 2017. 11:55 IST