M S Valiathan, Padma Vibhushan awardee and a renowned cardiac surgeon delivered a talk on Ayurveda and Modern Science at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) on 30th September 2014. He will be awarded the Honorary Doctorate at the XVI Convocation of the University on 1st October 2014.
Addressing the students, faculty and staff at the seminar hall of the School of Life Sciences, Valiathan said that Ayurveda remains a major national enterprise today. It continues to provide health care to millions, accounts for a large segment of professional education and growing herbal drug industry, and is recognised worldwide as Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It has become a bandwagon attracting cosmetics, dietetics and even tourism. Its encounter with Western Science began in the 16th century and the initial approach of European scientists and physicians to Ayurvedic practice was shaped by taxonomy which loomed large till 19th century, added Valiathan. He further stated that this period witnessed the endeavour of remarkable men such as Garcia da Orta, Van Rheede, Roxburgh, Ainslie and others and the birth of several scientific institutions in Kolkata. In the 20th century, a new window of exploration opened through pharmacological and toxicological studies of medicinal plants by RN Chopra followed by the rapid growth of natural products chemistry which gave India a leadership position in the World.
Valiathan shared that towards the end of the 20th century, molecular biology and immunology cast their mantle on Ayurveda, and these disciplines have placed powerful tools in the hands of investigators to study ancient concepts and procedures, which could not be done earlier. Ayurvedic biology is a new initiative comprising research projects which adopt this strategy and shows high promise. Sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, the Task Force in Ayurvedic Biology supports projects which employ basic sciences such as molecular biology, immunology and biological chemistry to study the concepts, procedures and the mechanistic basis of therapeutic activity in Ayurveda, he added.
M S Valiathan is a former president of the Indian National Science Academy and contributed to the development of medical technology in India. He is currently a National Research Professor of the Government of India, located in Manipal University. He was made a Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1969 and a Chevalier in the order of Palmes Academiques, an honour bestowed by the French government, in 1999. He received the Dr. Samuel P. Asper International Award from Johns Hopkins University in 2009 for his contributions to international medical education.