Kalluri Sri Nageswari

Kalluri Sri Nageswari

My father was one of the first few Doctorates of Science in Chemistry from Andhra University, India. He died at an early age of 38. My mother was drawing meager military pension as a widow and was not educated. She had lot of mental strength, courage to bring us up and impart good education to us. She influenced me the most.

I wanted to be a doctor since my childhood and was very eager to pursue my career at the earliest. I finished 8th, 9th and 10th class in one year and appeared for Matriculation Board examination. I got University rank and was offered National Merit Scholarship. After pre-university at a college in my home town, I moved to northern part of India and did Pre-medical course from Science College, Varanasi. I was selected for MBBS based on merit at Institute of Medical Sciences, Varanasi, one of the top medical institutes under a Central University. My elder brother gave me tremendous support at this juncture.

In the year 1967, during first year I got married. My husband, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IITK), a prestigious Indian engineering institute, supported me financially and morally and was instrumental for my career. There were reports of apprehensions expressed by housewives cooking in the microwave ovens, radar workers and scientists working with microwave equipment manufacturing companies regarding probable adverse effects of exposure to microwave radiation. This inspired me to work on  interdisciplinary topic “Effects of Microwave Radiation on  Haematological systems” for my thesis and we designed the exposure facility. This work laid the milestone for research on microwave biological effects at a later stage.

Prof. R. Sharan from Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Kanpur  was sanctioned a national project on “Effects of Acute and Chronic Microwave Radiation on the Immunological Systems of Rabbits” by National Radar Council,India,1984-87, a collaborative project between Electrical Engineering Department of IIT Kanpur and GSVM Medical College, Kanpur, India. I was initially Research Officer in the project (1984-1986) and was Co- Investigator later.

We fabricated 16 miniature anechoic chambers of the design of Guy etal. Microwave power was supplied to 8 chambers fitted with horn antennas, connected through 8 way power divider to microwave power source giving a plane wave field of 5mW/cm2 at the dorsal surface of the animal (rabbit) housed in polystyrene cage inside the anechoic chamber. This was a unique facility built up indigenously by Electrical Engineering Department, IIT Kanpur. Rabbits were exposed at 5 mW/cm2  for 3hrs daily for 3 months for chronic exposure or to 45 minutes of acute exposure at 100mW/cm2. The results revealed cataracts, derangement of immunological systems, susceptibility of exposed rabbits to infections and haematological effects. The project was upto 1986 initially but got an year’s extension till 1987 and I was a scientific officer at IITK and a co-investigator of the same project during this period.

As Scientific Officer at IITK (1986-1989),besides the research work for the project, I had teaching responsibilities. I introduced a course on biological signal processing for Electrical Engineering students. The course was designed to understand the biological signal generation, their characteristics and modeling to help in signal processing and modeling of cognitive systems. I taught the physiological aspects in the course. I have also planned and taught a course on Ergonomics and have set up an associated laboratory for post graduate Industrial Engineering students. The course mainly dealt with work stress measurement and methods to reduce the work stress.

In 1989, I moved to Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences, Delhi. I continued research on microwave effects and carried out two projects  for Defence Research and Development Organisation– “Measurement of Millimeterwave Radiation from Helmet Mounted Horn Antennas (for Defence Electronics and Applications Laboratory, Dehradun, India) and “Measurement of Microwave Radiation inside the Aircraft fitted with Microwave Source” (Center for Airborne Systems, Bangalore).

In 1998, I joined as  Professor of Physiology at Government Medical College, Chandigarh. I was involved with training meritorious undergraduate medical students. During my tenure as Professor and Head (1998-2006) and as Dean of Academics (2003-2006), besides administrative responsibilities and heading important college committees, some of my academic achievements  were starting of  M.Sc. Physiology program, writing 3 books, organization of  continuing medical education programs, undertaking  research projects with students as co-investigators, accompanying students to various conferences for presentation of their papers, conducting  relaxation training programs for students,  introducing innovative teaching techniques and developing computer simulation package for undergraduate practicals as elaborated below. As Dean academics, some of my responsibilities were setting time tables, vacation rosters for students, active role in conducting college convocation and administrative responsibilities for admission of students to MS/MD courses through entrance examinations. I had also been a reviewer and examiner for a number of Ph.D and M.D theses, examiner for undergraduate and postgraduate students and paper setter for various Institutes. This is when I started research on medical education. Medical students in India are undergraduates and face many challenges as they join medical colleges from more relaxed school / college life.

To assess stress (through Cold Pressor Response and psychological scales) in medical students at two phases - one at the entry point  and other on applying examination stress, we undertook a departmental project for the 2000-2001 batch students. Results revealed extreme stress in medical students at one point of time or the other or both. Based on the results of preliminary studies, the medical students (2002-2003 batch) were given relaxation training through yogic exercises or Brahmkumari’s way of Rajyoga meditation (15 each) and 14 students served as controls. The  beneficial effect of Rajyoga meditation was documented. This work was presented by a first year medical student who won National award for best undergraduate paper presentation (APPI, 2002).

There were other projects with medical students as co-investigators -“Cardiovascular Autonomic Parameters in Chronic Oral Smokeless Tobacco Users”( 2003-2004), “Assessment of Respiratory and Sympathetic Cardiovascular Parameters in Obese School Going Children”, (Short Term Research Studentship   sponsored by the Indian Council of Medical Research, 2004-2005), simulation of amphibian experiments by designing  computer algorithms, based on principles of virtual reality, a collaborative project between Computer Sciences Department, Panjab University and Department of Physiology, Government  Medical College, Chandigarh( 2006). In 2007, the simulation package was made available to the students on a CD-ROM with all prescribed amphibian experiments.  An accompanying  text book “Experimental Physiology Manual For Computer Based Amphibian Experiments” (Jaypee Publishers) provides details of each experiment and also step by step approach to access the experiments on CD-ROM.

Some of the innovative teaching tools initiated by me are undergraduate projects, where students are given  topics  and compile projects after getting the latest know how through web search, learning physiology through interactive CDROMs, “Vertical Orientation Program” (started in 2000) wherein the students learn about sophisticated equipment and pathophysiology of various clinical disorders through demonstrations in clinical departments (Advances in Physiology Education, Vol. 28,2004).

In the year 2001, I was awarded International Fellowship in Medical Education by ECFMG, Washington DC, USA (now FAIMER, Philadelphia). I was an observer to study American medical education system vis-à-vis Indian medical education system. I was at Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics at UIC, Chicago, USA from Ist  March  to 31st July 2001 and interacted with fellow scientists and academicians. I also visited and interacted with scientists and academicians at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale medical school and Department of Physiology, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.

After my return from USA, another innovative program, Physioquiz was introduced into the course curriculum. After teaching few systems through didactic lectures, Physioquiz is conducted. Students participate in 6 different rounds designed on educational principles and taxonomy levels testing their learning abilities. Physioquiz stimulates the thought process, inculcates team spirit and leadership qualities in students (Advances in Physiology Education, 2004).

I always encouraged students to be project investigators and present papers at scientific meetings. I used to accompany medical students for presenting scientific papers. One such instance was in 2006, “First National Medical Students Conference”, organized by Moving Academy of Medicine and Biomedicine, at Pune from 5th-8th October. I was Organising Chairperson of the Continuing Medical Education Program on Latest Trends in Medical Education (20th August, 2005 ). Six  undergraduate medical students presented papers at this conference. I was Founder President of Chandigarh Chapter of Association of Physiologists and Pharmacologists of India and Organizing Chairperson of the CME cum Workshop on Drafting Skills in Medical Research (16th September, 2006). Both events were organized by Department of Physiology, Government Medical College, Chandigarh.

In 2003, I was conferred with the title- Fellow, Indian Association of Biomedical Scientists, in honor of contributions made for the advancement of Biomedical Sciences. Subsequently I received three awards from APPI, at their annual conferences –M.L.Gupta Award for significant contribution in the field of Medical  Education and Technology at JIPMER, Pondicherry, India (2005), Dev Raj Bajaj Research Award for developing new research technique / instrumentation in the field of Physiology / Pharmacology / Allied Sciences, at Surat, India (2006) and Professor Puthuraya Award for Best Teacher in Physiology ( 2009).

I conducted workshop for medical teachers from March 31st- April 1st 2012 on “ How to Design and Administer Physioquiz?” at IUPS Physiology Teaching Conference & Workshop, Department of Physiology, College of Medicine & Medical Sciences, Arabian Gulf University, Kingdom of Bahrain. I was regular member of American physiological society since 2001 and emeritus member since 2014. In 2016 I became an honorary member of The Physiological Society, UK and presented paper at Physiology 2016  held from 29th-31st July 2016, at Dublin, Ireland, a conference sponsored jointly by Physiological Society, UK and American Physiological Society.