Journal of Medical Physics
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 46  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 352-353

Obituary of Dr. U. Madhwanath

Former Head, RP&AD, BARC, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication31-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
M S S. Murthy
Former Head, RP and AD, BARC, Mumbai - 400 094, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-6203.334392

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How to cite this article:
S. Murthy M S. Obituary of Dr. U. Madhwanath. J Med Phys 2021;46:352-3

How to cite this URL:
S. Murthy M S. Obituary of Dr. U. Madhwanath. J Med Phys [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 19];46:352-3. Available from:

Dr. U. Madhvanath, Former Head, Division of Radiation Protection (popularly known as DRP) of BARC, Mumbai, passed away after a brief illness. He was 89. Many readers of this Journal will remember his friendly smile, assuring voice, and strict adherence to quality work. He was born in Udupi, Karnataka, in 1932. After obtaining a master degree in Physics from Presidency College, Chennai, he joined the Film Badge Section (FBS) of the then Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET), Bombay. At that time, the FBS was mainly engaged in the radiation monitoring of the AEET staff using film badges. After a few years, Madhvanath went to the University of California, Berkeley, USA, under a Fulbright Fellowship to do doctoral studies in areas related to radiation safety.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, the use of radiation sources such as X-rays and gamma rays in medicine, industry, and research was rapidly expanding in the country. A suitable radiation safety program to cover the entire country was the urgent need of the hour. Under the able leadership of Shri P. N. Krishnamoorthy, a comprehensive radiation safety program including development of instruments for radiation measurement, radiation protection survey of radiation installations, and personnel monitoring of radiation workers across the country was planned. Dr. Madhvanath was instrumental in gradually extending the personnel monitoring services to such institutions covering the entire country. He was also involved in developing design and layout of radiation installations to guide institutions building new radiation facilities and later actually conducting protection survey of such installations. In the early stages, he conducted radiation protection survey of dozens of new and existing radiation facilities across the country and made suitable recommendations for improved safety.

Since the concept of radiation safety was still evolving at that time, there was an acute shortage of people trained in radiation safety at these institutions. Dr. Madhvanath was instrumental in starting a brand-new course in 1962 – “Postgraduate Diploma in Hospital Physics and Radiological Physics” to train young physics graduates in the science of radiation application and safety, who could later be employed as Radiation Safety Officers (RSOs) at these institutions. The course soon caught the attention of the World Health Organization, which started sending students from developing countries for training here. It is a tribute to his foresight that the course (which later came to be known as Diploma in Radiological Physics), even after 59 years, continues to be conducted not only by the BARC but also by several universities in the country under various names, catering to the ever-growing need for RSOs in the country. During these years, even though the FBS underwent some administrative transformations and was named Directorate of Radiation Protection and later as DRP, its goals remained the same and Dr. Madhvanath was one of the driving forces behind them.

In addition to these pioneering efforts to improve radiation safety in the country at the official level, Dr. Madhvanath was also interested in developing a community of radiation safety personnel and provided them opportunities to meet, exchange views and techniques, and upgrade their own knowledge. With this in mind, the Association of Medical Physicists of India (AMPI) was formed, of which he was a founder member; he started publishing the erstwhile AMPI Medical Physics Bulletin in 1976 and serving it as its first Editor. The Bulletin is presently the Journal of Medical Physics; the mouthpiece of the Association, Dr. Madhvanath's untiring efforts to establish a firm foundation for Medical Physics and radiation safety in the country, caught the attention of similar international organizations. He was elected as Vice-President of the International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP, 1988–1991) and President (1991–1994) and Vice-President of the International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine (IUPESM) during 1994–1997. He was the first Asian to hold these posts. Dr. Madhvanath also served in various IOMP committees and chaired the Asia Congress of Medical Physics in 1992. The Asia-Oceania Federation of Organizations for Medical Physics honored him as Outstanding Medical Physicist in 2018 for his life-time contribution to Medical Physics. In 2020, he was elected as a Fellow of the IUPESM.

Dr. Udipi Madhvanath, President, and Dr. Jack Cunningham, Immediate Past President

Fellowship of International Union for Physical and Engineering Sciences in Medicine

Postretirement, Dr. Madhvanath lived an active life in Bengaluru. Although he turned toward spirituality, his interest in Medical Physics remained high as ever and he generally attended every AMPI conference, where ever it was held. Future generations may remember him as the “Father of Medical Physics in India.”



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