Dr. Subhas Mukherjee: The Architect of First Test-Tube Baby of India

The talent if acknowledged brings up revolution in the eon but if not recognized dies out. Yes, this is the unfortunate truth of human psychology. The person if appreciated pushes himself/herself to produce the best however, if demeaned, the person lose the confidence. Pertaining to these facts herein, we bring to you the tale of the unsung hero of the Indian Medicine: Dr. Subhas Mukherjee.

Notably, Dr. Subhas Mukherjee was a super-talented physician and diligent scientist who was not recognized for his contributions as a result of which he ended his life and India lost one of its greatest minds.

Hailing from a small town of Hazaribagh in Bihar; this great man was a double doctorate degree holder. Markedly, Dr. Subhas Mukherjee had two PhD degrees: one from the University of Calcutta in Reproductive Physiology whilst the other from the University of Edinburgh in Reproductive Endocrinology. Born on 16th January 1931, this eminent scientist had a distinguished career as a Lecturer, Reader and Professor of Physiology at the NRS Medical College, Calcutta. Apart from this, he had a notable experience of working in the laboratory of Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh around 1967. Under the guidance of Professor John A. Loraine; Dr. Subhas Mukherjee found a method to assay the Luteinizing Hormone at Edinburgh.

From 1967 to 1975; he worked extensively on hormones and contradicted Theodore Langhans that Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is trophoblastic in origin. Dr. Subhas Mukherjee found that HCG is decidual in origin. Then, Dr. Mukherjee got interested in the concept of in-vitro fertilization which was just at the emerging state then.

On 3rd of October in the year 1978 just 67 days after the birth of Louise Joy Brown; due to the consistent efforts of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee; Durga alias Kanupriya Aggarwal was born. Conspicuously, Dr. Subhas Mukherjee, along with Professor Sunit Mukherjee and Dr. Saroj Kanti Bhattacharya discovered the method of in-vitro fertilization using the thawed and frozen embryos. This method was successfully used on the patient with damaged fallopian tubes. The girl was successfully born and is working as a marketing executive at a multi-national company in Delhi.

Durga alias Kanupriya Aggarwal in her early days.


The research paper of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee was published in Indian Journal of Cryogenics and then, he presented his conclusions at the Indian Science Congress in 1979. He discussed his experiment with Professor John Biggers from the Laboratory of Human Reproduction at Harvard School of Medicine, USA. The Gauhati Medical College honored him with the ‘Manpatra’ for his impeccable research.

However, the government of West Bengal did not approve his experiment on the account that Dr. Mukherjee successfully completed his experiment in a small south avenue apartment with the assistance of two of his colleagues despite there were no expensive resources provided to him. An enquiry was set upon him and his efforts were demeaned. He was humiliated to the extreme and was not allowed to attend an International Conference in Japan. Apart from this, he was transferred to the Department of Ophthalmology at the Medical College, Calcutta.

Herein is the glimpse of the ‘expert committee’ appointed by the government of West Bengal in order to verify the claims of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee. The committee comprised of physiologist, neurophysiologist and gynecologist who had not seen the embryos in their whole lifespan hence, they were not able to digest the fact that embryos were sealed in the ampoules and then, they were administered in the female patient. The charges on Dr. Subhas Mukherjee were,

· He declared to be the originator of a human test tube baby named Durga born on 3rd October, 1978.

· He criticized the report to the media before being cleared off by the Government officials.

· Despite lacking requisite equipments and facilities, he successfully completed his experiment.

· He did not bow down and agreed to the government bureaucrats.

The ultimate verdict by this so-called expert committee denounced the efforts of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee and called them ‘bogus’. Thus, Dr. Subhas Mukherjee was not able to cope with the humiliation and his health deteriorated. He had a heart attack in 1980. Ultimately, this great soul committed suicide and ended his life in the year 1981.

It was after 21 years of his death and the constant efforts of Dr. T.C Anand; that Indian Council of Medical Research acknowledged the contribution of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee. Dr. T.C Anand was earlier regarded as the architect of the first test-tube baby in India as he attained the success in the test-tube baby in the year 1986. Dr. T.C Anand recognized the remarkable efforts of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee and accredited his efforts lately via his writings.


Ultimately, in the year 2007; the Wellcome Trust Centre, London approved he admirable efforts of Dr. Subhas Mukherjee thus, accrediting him to be the first Asian to successfully perform in-vitro fertilization. In Sao Paulo, Brazil; the efforts of this distinguished physician were recognized in the year 2008 by the Brazilian Society.

Ironically, more than 300,000 test-tube babies see daylight worldwide via the unique and economical method of in-vitro fertilization discovered by Dr. Subhas Mukherjee but unfortunately, many of us are unaware of the remarkable efforts of this unsung Indian hero.




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