The School of Medical Sciences, University of Hyderabad(UoH) hosted its annual Dr. Yellapragada Subbarow Memorial Lecture delivered by Prof. Anura Kurpad, Founding Dean, St. John’s Research Institute on the topic “New developments in the protein and amino acids requirements of India” on 8th August 2019. The lecture was presided over by the Vice Chancellor Appa Rao Podile and attended by the students and alumni of the school. After honouring the portrait of Yellapragada Subbarow, pioneering biochemist, the Vice Chancellor addressed the gathering. Being his first address to the students after the institute being recommended by the University Grants Commission to be declared an Institute of Eminence, the Vice Chancellor congratulated the joint efforts of the academic staff and students.

Prof Kurpad discussed his work during his time at the Department of Physiology at St John’s Medical College. In this period, he primarily worked on accurately measuring human amino acid requirements. That provided the basis for the 2007 WHO/FAO/UNU Expert Committee (he was the rapporteur of that committee) revision of the protein and amino acid requirements.

He also found and shared with the gathering that the trend of stunted growth in the children of the country is majorly observed at the age of 1 – 3 years (in the National Family Health-4 survey) and was down by 10% when they were served high quality proteins like eggs, milk and a combination of cereals. If such diet is provided to the children younger than three years, the risks of protein deficiency falls to 7% for egg, 8% for milk and 11% for legumes.

Prof Kurpad then shifted his focus to the political angle of his research: how there is an urgent need for a policy shift in the food security measures of the Indian government, which haven’t gone through much change since the green revolution. He outlines how empowering farmers to grow more of legumes and pulses could bridge the nutrition gap at a young age. He suggests that farming insurance can be used as an incentive instead of buffer stock approach to encourage farmers to shift from cash crops like Sugarcane to low yielding yet nutritionally significant pulses.

While walking through his research, he topped the address with various reference points regarding how to conduct research in the area of nutrition and physiology. He ended the lecture by encouraging the students to show interest in other disciplines too, path-breaking researches can only be built when two or more disciplines interject.

-Ujjvala Kaumudi, Department of Communication, UoH

Photo Courtesy: karthik jirra