IITB Central Library 2.0 Service

Gates grant for IIT doctor

Posted on: November 10, 2010

by Telegraphindia
New Delhi, Nov. 9: A 70-year-old engineer in IIT Kharagpur who had once fought his way back into college for a degree in medicine, has bagged a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a novel contraceptive for women.

Sujoy Guha at the IIT Kharagpur School of Medical Sciences and Technology is developing a contraceptive technique that uses a polymer material and is intended to serve as a simple alternative to tubectomy which involves surgery.

In tubectomy, surgeons make a small incision in the abdominal wall, pull out the fallopian tubes and snip them.

In Guha’s proposed birth control technique, there is no incision. The polymer in liquid form is delivered through a tube inserted in the vagina, guided into the fallopian tubes with a magnet and fixed there using electromagnetic waves. The polymer inactivates ova and spermatozoa and prevents conception.

The magnetic polymer is among two unconventional ideas on contraception from India among 65 novel ideas picked today by the Gates Foundation for its Grand Challenges Explorations, a five-year programme to promote innovation in global health.

Each grant recipient will receive $1,00,000 to advance the research.

Guha’s career itself is viewed in academic circles as unconventional.

After an electrical engineering degree from IIT Kharagpur, and a masters and PhD from US universities, and a stint at teaching engineering students at IIT Delhi, Guha, in 1979, took a medical entrance test and cleared it.

“There was a lot of opposition,” Guha recalled today. “There were arguments that allowing me to study medicine would lead to chaos in education. But I received support from the IIT Delhi’s chairman of board of governors, Air Marshall Arjan Singh.” He got his MBBS in 1984.

The contraceptive for women springs from an earlier project in which he had developed a controversial polymer contraceptive for men — the polymer is injected into the vas deferens, the channel through which the sperm moves before ejaculation to inactivate spermatozoa.

But this polymer contraceptive for males, although under development for more than three decades, has not been approved for use yet.

The magnetic polymer contraceptive for women has been successfully tested in mice and rabbits and the Gates Foundation grant is intended to be used to test the polymer in goats, Guha said.

The second Indian grant recipient is Abi Santhosh Aprem with Hindustan Latex Limited who’s trying to eliminate the side effects associated with the copper-T intrauterine contraceptive devices by coating the copper with biodegradable polymers.

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