The Madras Medical College has not grown older but only more famous with its alumni bringing it recognition. The second oldest medical college in the country, the MMC came into being on February 2, 1835, and since then has been attached to the Government General Hospital (GH).
With 54 departments and nine institutions affiliated to it, the college, which is celebrating its post-centenary platinum jubilee year, has several firsts to its credit. In 1905, five years after X-ray machines came into being, the GH became the second institution in the world where an X-ray machine was installed. Today, the MMC is the only college in the country to offer M.D. in Geriatrics. It was here that alumna Suniti Solomon and her colleagues documented in 1986 the first evidence of HIV infection in the country.
The college offers the largest number of postgraduate and super-specialty courses in the country, says its Dean and alumnus J. Mohanasundaram. The courses were originally certificate courses, but with privatisation of medical services they became more specialised. But research in medicine is still to pick up, he adds.
Alumna Prema Lakshminarayana, who heads the Medical Genetics Department at the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, agrees that impetus is needed to take research further. She, along with her colleagues, undertook a study of newborns in the city-based government maternity hospitals a decade ago to establish the cause for disability. The department proposes to extend its research further.
The MMC has tied up with Anna University to conduct research, according to Mayil Vahanan Natarajan, Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University.
The MMC continues to be the first choice of every student who wishes to be a doctor. Only the best students are admitted to the institution. Perhaps it is only natural then that it has produced several eminent doctors, who set standards and pursued their goals despite odds.
For the alumni, reminiscing about their days in the MMC is akin to recalling their family history. Alumnus and cardiothoracic surgeon Rajan Santosham recalls that during the centenary year in 1935, the students took out a procession as part of the celebrations. “They collected money to start a cancer ward at the hospital. My grandfather, father and brothers studied in the college.”
When the first CT scan machine was installed in the hospital’s Neurology Department, its extensive usage astonished the manufacturer. The manufacturer offered to replace the machine free, recalls Dr. Mohanasundaram.
“We need funds to build infrastructure for research. The funds could be provided by the alumni, many of whom have distinguished themselves in India and abroad,” says MMC Vice-Principal A. Sundaram. “We could develop a corpus fund as the alumni of the IIT have done. On an average we receive 10,000 patients in the outpatient department every day. We can use the clinical material to improve patient care and allied education,” he says.