Dr Tapendra Mohan Mukherjee
Born September 30, 1933 India
Died February 2, 2001 Adelaide
Dr Mukherjee was born in Dehra Dun, India and from an early age had a
keen sense of passion about whatever he did. He was determined and courageous
and always believed that one should be the very best that they could be.
He graduated from the University of Calcutta in 1955 with a medical degree
and followed by a Diploma in Gynecology and Obstetrics. He then entered
the field of electron microscopy, which became the focus of his life’s
work. Tapen travelled to various parts of the world on fellowships and
in 1965 he travelled to New Zealand where he took up the position of Head
of Electron Microscopy at the University of Otago.
During the course of his career he made many scientific discoveries and
was the first to describe the presence of tight junctions between cells
which serve as mechanisms of cell communication. In 1969 Dr Tapen came
to Adelaide and became a pioneer researcher in Ultrastructural Pathology.
A research discovery that he was very passionate about was the finding
of structural abnormalities existing in the red blood cells of patients
with chronic fatigue syndrome. This was a significant discovery because
it showed for the first time that patients with this disease had a definite
organic pathology. This work drew world attention when it was published
in Time magazine. Dr Mukherjee worked very closely with Dr Kathy Maros
in this research and travelled overseas to establish links with other
researchers interested in CFS. The South Australian Society in the 80’s,
led by Lyn Drysdale also worked together with Dr Mukherjee and lobbied
for equipment and funding for ME/ CFS research. Tapen was one of the first
Doctors to seek R&D funding from the private sector for ME/ CFS research.
Sport – especially cricket and golf – were his great loves,
and allowed him to express his competitive nature. He also loved music
and played a wide variety of instruments. Dr Mukherjee supported many
community groups and ME / CFS sufferers were always close to his heart.
He always wished to be able to do more.
Dr Mukherjee, a very committed family man, is survived by his wife and
two daughters, Sutapa and Jini both of whom followed in his footsteps
and joined the medical profession.
He is fondly remembered as a gracious gentleman by all who knew him.