Dr R S Khandpur (1942-2019): a Distinguished Indian Bio-Medical Scientist and a Pioneering Engineer

(Dr R S Khandpur)

(By) Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti (Rtd.), Professor & Head Physics, Dean, Faculty of Sciences,  Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.          

We met about 40 years ago during a National Conference in India where I learnt of his interests in applying Ultrasonics and Electronics in Bio-Medical Instrumentation. “Engineering aims at using Science to find practical solutions. An Engineer has to be a good Scientist”, he felt.  Khandpur had acquired excellent expertise in Bio-Medical Sciences at London before inventing some of the first Medical Instruments in India.

Award of a Gold Medal for standing first in Panjab University in B.Sc. was followed by B.E. (1965) from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, with Distinction. He then obtained a UNESCO Award for Post-Graduate work at Royal College of Surgeons in London in 1968 and Ph.D. from Punjab Technical University. For Advanced Studies in Bio-Medical Instrumentation, he visited  USA, France, Germany, Sweden, UK, Canada and Japan soon thereafter.

He became the First Director General  and Founder of Science City, Kapurthala (Punjab) and the Centers of Electronics Design Technology of India (CEDTI), Founder Director: CEDT, Mohali, (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, CDAC) and Head of Medical Electronics: Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIO), Chandigarh. Other recognitions followed.

Government of India recognized his R&D work with the Energy Conservation Award, Independence Day National Award for his Outstanding Contributions and Award for India’s Best Scientific Communications. Lifetime Achievement Award at the Technical Educational Summit and Award for Innovations in Bio -Medical Electronics Instrumentation were given to him by the Punjab Government. All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) awarded him Visiting Professorship for his distinguished services. Indian National Academy of Engineers (INAE) honoured him for his services in  Institute -Academia Interaction.

As UNDP/WHO consultant he visited Burma, Somalia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Kuwait. He implemented the World Bank Consultancy through the German Organization (GTZ) for Technical Cooperation. British Council sponsored him for Advanced Ultrasonic Research in UK. Ford Foundation awarded him Fellowship for study of Science Centers in the developed countries. National Science Foundation, USA, sponsored him to visit US Universities & Research Institutes. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) invited him to visit Canadian Science Centers and Design Industries. He was an Invited Member of  IEEE (USA) Society for Engineering in Medicine & Biology.

 He had seven patents: Fetal Heart Rate Monitor, Photo-Electric Demodulator, Gas Supply Failure Alarm, Automatic Temperature Controllers, An Improved Blood Analyzer, Three-Way Solenoid Valves for Fluid Direction Control & Management and Alcohol Breath Analyzer Apparatus. Four of these are commercialized.

His Research/Review papers are extensively quoted in textbooks and research journals in India and abroad. Ten highly acclaimed books he published in Telemedicine Technology and Analytical and Medical Instrumentation led to introduction of Biomedical Instrumentation as a distinct subject in India and in USA.

First Medical Linear Accelerator (LINAC) in India  

This machine is used for cancer treatment and was successfully developed in 1989 under his leadership. It was installed at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, followed by four more given to other Institutes, for Radiotherapy. He also developed several other Electronic devices like EEG Machine, Blood Analyzers and Spectrophotometers.

First Telemedicine Technology Project in India (1989-2002)

This project was implemented under his leadership in 1998. It linked PGIMER, Chandigarh, SG-PGIMER, Lucknow, and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.  It has a great scientific relevance and benefit for providing instant health care to far-flung areas of India and has been extended Abroad.

 Centers of Electronic Design & Technology, ( CEDTI) in India

Dr Khandpur set up the first CEDT at Mohali and established this type of facilities at many other places (like Mizoram), as National Facilities. They constitute a Chain of Centers of Electronic Design & Technology in India, to advance skill development in IT.

(Dome and the Science Voyage Hall, Science City)

Science City, Kapurthala, his unique gift to India (2002-2014)

Science City set up in a land area of 72 acres is among the most modern Centers in the world, where visitors can understand even the complex concepts. It has about 500 latest exhibits and working models. Some of its attractions are:

Science Voyage Hall:  It has a globe-like dome ( 80 feet in its diameter and area of 55,000 square feet) built with 2.5 million multi-colored ceramic tiles to show different continents and seas. It houses India’s First Digital Planetarium and  an I-Max laser theatre offering immersive virtual-world experience.

Health Gallery: Includes Biotechnology and HIV/AIDS exhibits  with  a 12 feet high model of the heart showing working of the heart valves, heartbeat and major arteries. One can have a look inside the human body through another life-size transparent model which has various parts of the body visible. Visitors learn how a key-hole surgery is performed, an MRI or dialysis is done.

Other features of Science City include:  A Transparent Man Theatre: that shows working of all organs and systems of the human body, first of its kind in the country, Dinosaur Park:  which brings one face to face with moving and speaking giants (one to 130 feet) of yesteryears, Climate Change Theatre : for instant world weather display, first in India. Space Gallery: with working models of the latest Rocket Launchers, Space shuttles, including some of India’s own construction, Science of Sports Gallery: first in India giving valuable knowledge regarding various sports and games and the application of new scientific principles for improving performance of competitors and Night Sky-Watch Observatory: equipped with unique and powerful state-of-the-art star watching telescopes and other facilities, giving extra-ordinary experience of the stars in the universe.

There is nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in Science and Engineering for a better tomorrow for all humankind”,

William Sanford Nye, American Engineer and TV Presenter.

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