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Neuroendocrinology Letters incl. Psychoneuroimmunology & Chronobiology


ISSNİ0172ñ780X Copyrightİ©İ1997 NeuroendocrinologyİLetters

NEL Vol. 18 No. 2/3

1998; 18:172-174
pii: NEL182397X01



Professor Derek Gupta M.D.. Ph.D., FRCPath.

He was born in Calcutta, India
February 1, 1928.

Died in London,
May 13, 1997, aged 69.

Derek Gupta was a pioneering scientist and an artist of life. His great quest in life was to understand the hormonal and molecular changes that promoted growth and development from foetal life through puberty. The research concerning the onset of puberty was one of his significant contributions to science. From that base, he developed research that explained the role of the pineal gland in puberty development. He explored the connection between the pineal gland, immune functions and cancer. Through his research he was able to show the bridge between the immune system and neuroendocrinology, which he called the dialogue between mind and body for better understanding of the basis of bio-medical and psychological sciences.

Derek Gupta began work in London 40 years ago at the Hammersmith Hospital, the Royal Institute for Post Graduate Medicine and after that at the Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street.
In the final decade of his life, Derek Gupta was passionately dedicated to understand how a mother's emotions during pregnancy impacted on the hormonal and emotional development of her child. At his death he was President Elect of the International Society for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine. As well as having founded and edited the Neuroendocrinology Letters - an International Scientific Journal for twenty years, he also served as a consultant and a co-editor of the International Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine. He also served on the editorial board of 11 other international journals and was a member of 20 learned societies.

Derek Gupta encapsulated the best of an eastern and western man. He was born and brought up in Calcutta, India just as the 20th century was entering its second quarter. His family offered him traditional as well as Anglo Saxon foundations and his intellectual roots were deeply grounded. In the 19th Century, one of his grandfathers founded and edited the first Bengali daily newspaper and another was a well-known poet and writer. He took delight in translating Bengali poems into English and vice versa as well as writing his own poetry, which he often wrote as introductions to the many medical conferences he organized.

Having graduated with a B.Sc. degree from the University of Calcutta in 1948, Derek Gupta worked as a junior lecturer at the Calcutta Technical School and as a biochemist at the Calcutta Medical School. His talents and potentials being recognized, in 1958 he was invited to London by Prof. E. J. King of the Royal Post Graduate Medical School (University of London) as a research assistant. There he developed new technologies for assessment of steroid hormones through chromatography. Later, in 1959, he took up the position of Assistant Lecturer at the Institute of Child Health (University of London) moving up to Lecturer in 1961 and Senior Lecturer in 1965. In cooperation with Prof. J. M. Tanner (Growth Hormones) he pioneered and published the hormonal mechanism of sexual and adrenal steroids in childhood and puberty. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1965 and Ph.D. in Medicine in 1968 from the University of London while still working at the Institute for Child Health.

In 1969, Professor Jürgen Bierich, noted German Endocrinologist invited Derek Gupta to move to West Germany to take up the post of first Director of the newly created Department of Diagnostic Endocrinology at the Children's Hospital at the University of Tübingen, a post he held for 25 years until his retirement in 1993. In 1971 he earned the degree of Privat Dozent (D.Sc.) becoming a professor in 1973. In 1976 Derek Gupta became a Member of the Royal College of Pathologist (MRCPath) and later in 1979 became a Fellow (FRCPath) there.

At Tübingen Derek Gupta earned his reputation as an advocate of neuroendocrinology research. Continuing his work regarding growth development in puberty, he was an influence on the way pediatric endocrinology developed internationally. He was one of the first scientists to prove the unity and indivisibility of Psychoneuroendocrinology and Psychoneuroimmunology from the very beginning of human development. As a pioneer, as early as 1975, he described hypothalamic hormones. In that same year, he published Radioimmunoassay of Steroid Hormones', in 1977 Adrenal Diseases: in 1979 Hormones in Childhood; in ^9Q4 Endocrinology of Puberty; in 1985 The Neuroendocrinology of Hormone Transmitter Interactions; in 1986 The Pineal Gfand during Development which described its regulatory role in development of puberty. Later, in 1987 he co-edited the summarizing work on various functions of the pineal gland on the immune system and its role in cancer (1988); and in 1990, Neuroendocrinology: New Frontiers; a total of 14 books written or edited with over 200 original papers published.

Professor Gupta supervised and inspired 140 postgraduate candidates to the completion of their Doctoral Thesis. He founded and edited the highly respected Neuroendocrinology Letters giving many young and talented researchers who later became famous their first opportunity to publish.

Derek Gupta was professionally and personally respected, and highly appreciated for his creativity and humorous approach to life. He was one of the most talented and beloved members of his scientific community that will miss not only his professional acumen but also his sincere and generous friendship. Feeling solidarity, he was helpful and supportive to young scientists from Eastern Europe and the third world returning the support he had received when he came from Calcutta to London. He approached his science and his poetry from his heart probing deeply into the processes of the human condition, enthusiastic for life and people, working and bringing everything to completion even to his last days.

Here are Derek Gupta's last lines:

What we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

He is survived by his wife Dr. Bhakti Datta-Gupta and two daughters Mita Madden and Ratna Dutt.
A Memorial Symposium to celebrate the life and work of Derek Gupta "Neurosciences in the 21st Century" was held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on September 13, 1997, organized and chaired by the undersigned.

Peter G. Fedor-Freybergh,
Stockholm and Prague


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