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Table of Contents    
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 346-349

IN MEMORIUM: Prof. Jagjit S Chopra, DCH, FRCP, PhD, FAMS, FIAN(15 June 1935 – 18 January 2019)

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research; Former Director-Principal, Government Medical College; Secretary Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh Administration, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Neurology, Swansea University; Department of Neurosciences, ABM University Health Board, Morriston Hospital Swansea, United Kingdom

Date of Web Publication7-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vijay K Kak
Department of Neurosurgery, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh - 160 101
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0259-1162.253606

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How to cite this article:
Kak VK, S Sawhney IM. IN MEMORIUM: Prof. Jagjit S Chopra, DCH, FRCP, PhD, FAMS, FIAN(15 June 1935 – 18 January 2019). Neurol India 2019;67:346-9

How to cite this URL:
Kak VK, S Sawhney IM. IN MEMORIUM: Prof. Jagjit S Chopra, DCH, FRCP, PhD, FAMS, FIAN(15 June 1935 – 18 January 2019). Neurol India [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 8];67:346-9. Available from: https://www.neurologyindia.com/text.asp?2019/67/1/346/253606

Dr. JS Chopra (JSC) [Figure 1] was born on 15 June, 1935, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). His father, Dr. Mohan Singh, was a medical practitioner in Lahore, who later shifted his practice to Fazilka (Punjab), where JSC had his early school education. He completed his medical education from Government Medical College, Patiala (Punjab University) in 1959. He proceeded to UK after one year's house job at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, and worked at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, Belfast, and later in the Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH), Belfast. He was trained under Neurology stalwarts like Drs. RS Allison, JHD Miller, LJ Hurwitz and MW Swallow. He passed the examination for Diploma in Child Health (DCH) from Royal College of Physicians, London, in 1962, and obtained MRCP (Edinburgh) with specialisation in Neurology in 1963. He was awarded PhD by the Queen's University, Belfast in 1967, for extensive research on diabetic neuropathy. He was the youngest Indian to be awarded FRCP (Edinburgh) in 1969.
Figure 1: Prof. JS Chopra

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He first met Dr. Vijay K Kak (VKK) undergoing training in Neurosurgery at RVH, Belfast, in 1964. There used to be combined Neurology/Neurosurgery rounds at RVH, Belfast, attended by neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropathologists and neuroradiologists. During a visit to London, JSC happened to meet his former teacher, Dr. PN Chuttani, then Dean, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. In the brief meeting, JSC expressed his desire to return to India. “Boy, go and pack your bags, I have given you the job,” said Dr. Chuttani to his bright student. That is how Dr. JS Chopra joined PGIMER, Chandigarh, in 1968, as Assistant Professor of Neurology, and gradually rose to become Professor of Neurology till his superannuation in June 1995. Dr. Chuttani also requested him to bring a good neurosurgeon, and he was instrumental in persuading VKK to join PGIMER in 1969 [Figure 2].[1],[2] This association, which began in Belfast, was nurtured, cemented and flourished in Chandigarh, until JSC's demise!
Figure 2: The PGIMER, Chandigarh colleagues: Prof. Damodar Rout, Prof VK Kak and Prof AK Banerji

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JSC was instrumental in setting up a world class department of Neurology and research laboratory at PGIMER, Chandigarh, and dedicated his entire life to establish model clinical, teaching and research facilities in the department. He started the DM (Neurology) training program at PGIMER, Chandigarh, and trained several super specialists in Neurology, most of whom are heading departments at various establishments in India and abroad. He also trained many specialists in Neurology for the Armed Forces of India. Neurology training during his tenure was very rigorous and none of his trainees can forget the teaching at Saturday grand rounds, where the emphasis used to be on Clinical Neurology. He was a man who appeared very tough in his professional and academic dealings, but was endowed with a very kind heart and always went an extra mile to help everyone, especially his students. He had the reputation of being a hard taskmaster, a strict disciplinarian, and an immaculate clinician. He also participated in sports activities at PGIMER as well as GMCH, Chandigarh, winning the faculty 100 meters race and table tennis championship regularly. He retired in 1995 but continued as Professor Emeritus at PGIMER, Chandigarh. He was also selected as National Lecturer by University Grants Commission, and lectured at various medical institutions across the country. The National Academy of Medical Sciences (India), New Delhi, elected him to its Fellowship and also honoured him with Emeritus Professorship. He was awarded Dr. BC Roy National Award as an eminent medical teacher.

He was selected as Secretary General of the World Congress of Neurology, which was organized successfully at New Delhi in 1989. He has the distinction of having been associated with World Federation of Neurology (WFN) from 1985 till date in various capacities, which includes Co-chairman of the Finance Committee, Vice-Chairman Research Group on Organization and Delivery of Neurological Services and Editor-in-Chief of World Neurology from 1999-2009. He was first Indian neurologist ever to be nominated for the post of President of WFN in 2005.

JSC has contributed immensely in the field of neurosciences research and education. He has conducted research in muscle diseases, peripheral nerves, strokes in the young, and infections of the nervous system, and has guided over a dozen PhD theses. He has published nearly 250 scientific research papers in journals of national and international repute. He was Editor-in-Chief for Textbook of Neurology, and Neurology India, a publication of the Neurological Society of India, for six years. He has written about 50 chapters in various books and monographs, published in India and abroad. He served on the editorial board of several journals. Age did not dampen his enthusiasm for Neurology. He had a firm belief that there was no limit on gaining knowledge and giving it back to the world. He co-edited Neurology in Tropics in his eighties and was the force behind meeting the deadlines for its publication [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Release of the second edition of Neurology in Tropics

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JSC was deputed to Chandigarh Administration as the Founder Director-Principal of Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, with additional charge of the post of Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh Administration, from 1991 to 1995 [Figure 4] and [Figure 5]. He planned the Medical College and Hospital on a modular basis. Today, it is ranked 9th in the country!
Figure 4: Prof. Chopra at a Government Medical College Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh function

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Figure 5: Prof. Chopra at the Silver Jubilee function of GMCH, Chandigarh, with his former students

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JSC has been the Founder President of Indian Academy of Neurology (1993-1994), his brainchild, and Past President of Neurological Society of India (2003). He has been Member, Executive Committee of International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology, selected as Honorary Member of American Academy of Neurology and American Neurological Association, Member, London Medical Society, Association of British Neurologists, and Ulster Medical Society. He was elected Fellow of Medical Society of London and National Academy of Medical Sciences (India), New Delhi. JSC has been a Member of Advisory Groups/Panels of Medical Education and Training of National Board of Examinations, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), NIHMANS, Bangalore, Indian Council of Child Welfare, Chandigarh, and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. He has been a Member of several International Scientific Program Advisory Committees. He was nominated as a Senator to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, Punjab, by the Governor of Punjab. The Indian Academy of Neurology has instituted JS Chopra Oration to commemorate his role in the formation of the Academy.[3]

JSC has been the recipient of several awards and orations, including 9th Amrut Modi Research Award, Pelipu Perindevi Suriya Award of Pharmacological Society of India, MN Sen Oration Award of ICMR, Life Time Achievement Award in Neurosciences, Madras Neuro Trust, Dr MS Sanjeev Rao Oration, Dr RS Allison Oration, Belfast, UK, Baldev Singh Oration, NSI and National Academy of Medical Sciences, New Delhi Oration, Vishist Chikitsha Gold Medal by Association of Chest Physicians of India, Award by Pan Arab Union of Neurological Societies, Emirates Medical Association, Emirates Neurological Society and Emirates League against Epilepsy, and awards from Pakistan Neurological Society and Epilepsy Association of Pakistan. He was awarded the Parman Patra by Shri Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab in 2007, and Padma Bhushan (the third highest national award) by the President of India in 2008 [Figure 6].
Figure 6: Prof. Chopra being conferred Padma Bhushan by the President of India

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He was a brilliant organizer and mentor to a large number of neurologists all over the world. JSC was happily married to Mrs. Amarjit Chopra, who passed away just over a year ago. He is survived by his children, Brinder and Harvin, both doctors, and two grandchildren [Figure 7]. Prof. Chopra will be immensely missed in the world of Neurology and will live forever in the hearts of his students and colleagues. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his contribution to neurosciences and for his never-ending faith in the potential of his students.
Figure 7: Prof. Chopra's family

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World Federation of Neurology honoured Prof Jagjit Singh Chopra (JSC) with Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2017 at Kyoto, Japan. His achievements were applauded at the world stage in his absence, as he could not attend the meeting because of a disabling stroke. The award was received on his behalf by Prof. Dhiraj Khurana, Professor of Neurology, PGIMER, Chandigarh. JSC was felicitated and presented the award at a meeting organised at Chandigarh on the occasion of World Stroke Day 2017. A large number of his trainees had travelled from all over the country on this occasion, and a larger number sent their messages from India and abroad [Figure 8].
Figure 8: Prof. Chopra being felicitated at Chandigarh on receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award of World Federation of Neurology. He is with his colleagues and former students

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Padma Bhushan awardee Prof. Chopra [Figure 9], who had nurtured the Department of Neurology at PGIMER, Chandigarh, to its glory, and was instrumental in bringing up GMCH, Chandigarh, breathed his last in Chandigarh on 18 January 2019, plunging the Neurology community worldwide, his friends and colleagues, into gloom with the loss of a distinguished neurologist.
Figure 9: Prof. and Mrs. Chopra with Prof IMS Sawhney

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Copyright permissions

Permissions have been obtained from Dr. N Muthukumar, Secretary, Neurological Society of India, Dr. Gagandeep Singh, Secretary, Indian Academy of Neurology, and Dr. HV Srinivas, Editor, Saga of Indian Neurology, to reproduce from their respective publications.

  References Top

Lal V, Goyal MK. PGIMER Chandigarh: A temple of holistic neurology. Neurology India 2018;66:188-203.  Back to cited text no. 1
Ganapathy K, Ed. Past Presidents 2000-2016. Neurological Society of India, Agra, 2017. JS Chopra, President NSI 2003, pp. 29-33.  Back to cited text no. 2
Srinivas HV, Ed. Saga of Indian Neurology. Reflections of Former Presidents. Indian Academy of Neurology, Bangalore, 2011. Dr. Jagjit Singh Chopra, President IAN 1993-1994, pp. 1-5.  Back to cited text no. 3


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7], [Figure 8], [Figure 9]


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