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Talking Point
March 2001
In this issue:
Vice-President’s Report
Dr Tapendra Mohan Mukherjee
Medical Seminar (May 12)
Chronic Illness on the Web
Jonathon Foote
Handy Hints
Home Assist Programs
Support Groups

Dr Tapendra Mohan Mukherjee

Born September 30, 1933 India
Died February 2, 2001 Adelaide

Dr Tapendra Mohan MukherjeeIt was with great sadness that I recently attended the funeral of Dr Tapen Mukherjee, one of Australia’s first researchers to make significant scientific discoveries into the disease ME/CFS. The funeral was an incredibly moving and spiritual experience combining both Hindu and Christian elements – a true reflection of how Dr Tapen lived his life.

By Judy Lovett
With special thanks to Dr Jini Mukherjee-Gray

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.

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