Wednesday, September 28, 2022
HomePediatrics DentistryNational pathology day – Commemorating a legend Dr. VR Khanolkar Shankar S...

National pathology day – Commemorating a legend Dr. VR Khanolkar Shankar S V, Singaravel S, Agnihotri A, Agrawal R

S Vijay Shankar1, Saranya Singaravel2, Aditya Agnihotri3, Ranjan Agrawal4

1 Department of Pathology, Adichunchanagiri Institute of Medical Sciences, Mandya, Karnataka, India
2 Seth VC Gandhi and MA Vora Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
3 SDM College of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Dharwad, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Pathology, Rajshree Medical Research Institute, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Submission 07-Mar-2022
Date of Decision 21-Mar-2022
Date of Acceptance 28-Mar-2022
Date of Web Publication 14-Apr-2022



The large-scale celebration of National Pathology Day on the birth anniversary of Dr. VR Khanolkar would help pathologists to showcase their role in patient care, medical education, and research, change the image of pathology, and bring this specialty to the forefront.

Keywords: National pathology day, VR Khanolkar

How to cite this article:
Shankar S V, Singaravel S, Agnihotri A, Agrawal R. National pathology day – Commemorating a legend Dr. VR Khanolkar. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 2022;65:242-4

How to cite this URL:
Shankar S V, Singaravel S, Agnihotri A, Agrawal R. National pathology day – Commemorating a legend Dr. VR Khanolkar. Indian J Pathol Microbiol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 4];65:242-4. Available from: https://www.ijpmonline.org/text.asp?2022/65/2/242/343199

Pathology is the bridge between science and medicine. Pathologists impart a crucial role in delivering high-quality medical care. However, pathology remains mainly a background branch. One study found that only a small percentage of patients identified pathologists as “final diagnosis” makers.[1] The missing recognition makes recruiting residents to the specialty very challenging and does not help the pathologist community’s advocacy efforts.

There is a clear need for pathologists to reach out to students, the medical fraternity, administrators, policymakers, and the general public. Many professional organizations have come forward and launched campaigns at the local, regional, national and international levels.

Brief review of pathology day

The Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath) started National Pathology Week in 2008 in the United Kingdom.[2] Intended to be observed in the first week of November, the event was considered necessary in order to raise awareness about the relevance of pathology in health care. Later, the RCPath took the initiative to make the event global and established International Pathology Day in 2014 to be observed on the second Wednesday of November every year.[3] While the endeavor was supported by pathology associations and individuals from several countries, the impact in India was mild due to a lack of coordinated and sustained efforts at the national level.

Bodies of paramedical professionals have also attempted to raise awareness of their contributions to patient care. One example is National Cytotechnology Day celebrated on May 13th, started by the American Society of Cytotechnology to commemorate Dr. George Papanicolaou’s contributions to the field of medicine on his birth anniversary.[4] Another example is the annual celebration of Histotechnology Professionals Day on March 10. Started by the National Society for Histotechnology (USA) in 2010, this is a day dedicated to raising awareness about the field of histotechnology.[5] The Indian Confederation of Medical Laboratory Sciences (ICMLS) initiated National Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Week (NMLPW) in 2016 to be celebrated on 17th–23rd July every year to commemorate professionalism and recognition of the services of medical laboratory professionals.[6]

The observation of National Pathology Day with a strong Indian connection on a large scale across the length and breadth of the country would go a long way towards highlighting the critical role played by pathologists and laboratory professionals inpatient care, medical education, and research.

A proposal to celebrate National Pathology Day on the birth anniversary of Dr. VR Khanolkar was recently ratified in the annual general body meeting of the Indian Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists.

Dr. VR Khanolkar

Born on April 13th, 1895 in Quetta, Dr. Vasant Ramji Khanolkar completed his medical education at Grant Medical College, Mumbai before obtaining his MD in Pathology from the University of London in 1921. He was the first Indian to obtain this degree, which marked the beginning of a distinguished career.

On his return to India, he was appointed as Professor of Pathology at Grant Medical College before being appointed the first Professor of Pathology at Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital in 1926. He was instrumental in establishing the Department of Pathology at Tata Memorial Hospital in 1941 and the formation of the Indian Cancer Research Center where he held the post of Director from 1953 to 1963. He also played a pivotal role in the planning of premier institutes of national importance including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, and the Post-Graduate Institute for Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.[7]

Dr. VR Khanolkar was an academician and researcher par excellence. During the course of his career spanning over five decades, he published three books on cancer and leprosy and authored more than 100 scientific publications. Some of his major scientific contributions included finding the causal association between chewing tobacco/betel nut and oral cancer. He was the first to confirm cutaneous neural involvement in all forms of leprosy.

Sir Khanolkar was instrumental in mentoring stalwarts including Dr. CGS Iyer and Dr. Darab Dastur in neuropathology, Kamal Ranadive in tissue culture techniques, and LD Sanghvi in genetics.[7] He was the founder of the Teaching Pathologists Association (Bombay), The Indian Society for the Study of Reproduction, and the Indian Association of Pathologists and Microbiologists (IAPM) and served as its first president from 1950 to 52.

Putting India on the international stage, Dr. VR Khanolkar was the president of the International Cancer Research Commission. He served on the WHO and UN panels as an expert in the field of leprosy, radiation, and cancer. The Government of India conferred a Padma Bhushan on him in 1955 for his services in promoting medical research and education in India and contributing to the task of nation-building. Undoubtedly, he earned the title of “Father of Pathology and Medical Research” in India.[8] Following an illustrious career, Dr. VR Khanolkar was laid to rest on October 8th, 1978.

National pathology day

National Pathology Day in India could be utilized to create an annual theme-based awareness campaign with a three-pronged strategy to Celebrate, Communicate, and Educate. It is vital for pathologists to take pride in being the consultant’s consultant. The celebrations would also present an opportunity to communicate with and educate various stakeholders on the continuing and growing role of pathologists in the era of evidence-based medicine. These goals can be achieved through a robust and effective offline and online campaign to engage stakeholders by using a standard communication strategy and resources that can be utilized by medical institutions and laboratories across the country. Paramedical staff may also be encouraged to participate in these activities.

The offline events may include activities such as a tour of the laboratory or museum for high school or undergraduate students, physicians, and hospital administrators. The celebration may also be used to encourage Pathologist–Clinician–Patient communication through outreach programs, lectures, short videos, or question-answer sessions. The online events could include social media campaigns with #NationalPathologyDay2022 on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram bringing the Indian Pathology community together. Possible ideas could include video competitions, art competitions, question-answer sessions, panel discussions, memes, and so forth.

It would also go a long way in changing the perception of pathology as a branch with minimal or no patient contact and addressing the limitations of undergraduate teaching and curriculum which are not effective in portraying the actual practice of pathology, cited as a major reason for undergraduate students not considering a career in pathology.[9],[10]

Such events are likely to improve the quality of patient care, help patients understand their disease and assist them to make more informed decisions, showcase the role of pathologists, and provide an opportunity to change the image of pathology as a specialty.


Dr. VR Khanolkar, the Father of Pathology and Medical Research in India.[11]

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


   References   Top

Fischer G, Anderson L, Ranson M, Sellen D, McArthur E. Public perceptions on pathology: A fundamental change is required. J Clin Pathol 2021;74:812-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
International Pathology Day 2014. Rcpath.org. 2022. Available from: https://www.rcpath.org/resourceLibrary/international-pathology-day-factsheet–2014-.html. [Last accessed on 2022 Feb 06].  Back to cited text no. 3
Kavadi SN. V. R. Khanolkar and the Indian cancer research centre, 1952–1962. Indian J Cancer 2019;56:364-7.  Back to cited text no. 7
Pai SA. V.R. Khanolkar: Father of pathology and medical research in India. Ann Diagn Pathol 2002;6:334-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
Van Es SL, Grassi T, Velan GM, Kumar RK, Pryor W. Inspiring medical students to love pathology. Hum Pathol 2015;46:1408.  Back to cited text no. 9
Ananthamurthy A, Mani B. Perception of pathology as a career among undergraduate medical students. Natl Med J India 2019;32:369-72.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Aikat BK. Obituary. Vasant Ramji Khanolkar born 13th April 1895. Founder President of Indian association of pathologists. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 1979;22:preceding 1.  Back to cited text no. 11


Correspondence Address:
Saranya Singaravel
Department of Pathology, Seth VC Gandhi and MA Vora Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijpm.ijpm_226_22

Rights and Permissions



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments