An extraordinary man | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, June 24, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, June 24, 2009

Lest We Forget

An extraordinary man

THE eminent medical scientist and physician of Bangladesh, Major General Mahmudur Rahman Choudhury was born on June 1, 1928 in Sylhet. He had a brilliant academic and professional career.
He was commissioned in the Pakistan Army Medical Corps in 1952. For his professional excellence as a junior major, he received a letter of commendation from the Commander in Chief of Pakistan (C-in-C) and was also honoured with the Tamgha-e-Quaide Azam (TQA).
Dr. M.R. Choudhury was posted at Islamabad as the Executive Director of National Health Laboratories (Now NIH) in 1970. His dynamic command and superb organisational capabilities contributed largely to the establishment of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and Transfusion in 1976, and he became the Founder Commandant.
He was the first medical specialist who was promoted to Major General for his extraordinary contribution to the Bangladesh army as well to the nation. General M.R. Choudhury went on superannuation in 1992 after 40 years of successful career in the army -- a record still unsurpassed by anyone. After that he devoted his time to research and teaching Microbiology and Laboratory Medicine in different institutions.
The highest national award (Independence Day Award) for Medical Science was conferred on him in 1977. He had the distinction of being awarded MRCPath without examination. He was honoured by the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences with its highest scientific award in 1995. In 1999, he was honoured with the Ibn Sina Award.
He was also awarded Fellowships by many national and international institutions. He was posthumously honoured by the Society of Medical Microbiologists in 2002 and by Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists in 2006.
Emeritus Professor M.R. Choudhury was one of the outstanding microbiologists of his generation. He was founder-president of the Bangladesh Society for Microbiologists. He was also the key instrument in the internationalisation process of ICDDR,B and also served as a member of its Board of Trustees till his departure from this world.
He was one of the first researchers to look at the risk of HIV in Bangladesh, and was instrumental in forming the National Aids Committee in Bangladesh as early as 1985. He was Chairman of the Bangladesh National Aids Committee during 1989-92 and then Chairman of the Technical Committee of National Aids Committee, which responsibility he discharged till the last moment of his life.
He was also the founder president of Bangladesh Society of Immunologists, member of Bangladesh Kidney Trust, and member of Editorial Boards of a number of professional journals both home and abroad. He was also a member of the expert advisory panel on health laboratory service of the WHO.
Dr. Rita R. Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation, US and Professor of Microbiology, University of Maryland said: "Major General Choudhury was truly a fine scholar and an exceptional gentleman. He was both gentle in spirit and kind to all, without exception.
Major General Choudhury made this world a better place through his contributions to science, society, and the spiritual well being of humankind. He will truly be missed, but the memory of his good deeds will linger to inspire us."
WHO, mentioned in their obituary message: "The Aids and human rights community in Bangladesh has lost its founder and a great leader. The general was a great soldier in this battle and fought until the very end, as a soldier should do."
The World Bank authorities paid rich tribute in the following words: "With his untimely death Bangladesh has lost a visionary leader, who had the right combination of scholarship, substance, integrity, team spirit and passion for doing something for the people. Personally, he was a great conversationalist endowed with keen sense of humour."
He has set an extraordinary example as an administrator, a scientist and an educationist.

Dr.Stefano Lazarri is Director, WHO Office in Lyon for National Epidemic Preparedness and Response (LYO).

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