Coluthur Gopalan

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Coluthur Gopalan
Born(1918-11-29)29 November 1918
Died3 October 2019(2019-10-03) (aged 100)

Coluthur Gopalan FRCP, FRS,[1] FAMS, FASc (29 November 1918 – 3 October 2019)[2] was an Indian nutritionist. He was responsible for initiating nutrition research in independent India, leading to a number of interventions such as the Integrated Child Development Services, the midday meal scheme for school children, goiter prevention programme, etc.[3] The burning feet syndrome is also known as Grierson-Gopalan syndrome. While the condition was described in 1826 by a British medical officer James Grierson, Gopalan also described this condition in 1946 when he observed it, "chiefly in females between the ages of 20 and 40 years, among the poor in South India".[4]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in Salem, Tamil Nadu. He earned an M.D. from University of Madras, and Ph.D. and D.Sc. from University of London.[5][6] Starting his professional career in nutrition research at the Nutrition Research Laboratory during the British period, he continued there for the next six decades. In the late 1950s, when the Nutrition Research Laboratory moved to Hyderabad and turned to the National Institute of Nutrition, Gopalan took over as director and expanded research to several key areas.


Gopalan's research led to a midday meal scheme for school children and a goiter prevention programme.[3] He founded the National Nutrition Foundation, which published Nutritive Value of Indian Foods.[3] He was a recipient of the civilian honours of the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan.[7] He set up divisions for clinical research, biochemistry, bio-physics, endocrinology, analytical chemistry, food toxicology and the field units in multi-disciplinary subjects.

National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau which is product of his effort started the research to tackle problems such as protein energy malnutrition, Vitamin A deficiency, Phrynoderma, Lathyrism, fluorosis and Pellagra.

He was the director of the Indian Council of Medical Research there he expanded research into neglected communicable diseases and modernised the working of the council. Three new institutes — Malaria Research Institute; Vector Control Research Institute and Leprosy Research Institute were established to develop and implement preventive and management strategies for these diseases.

Gopalan's works on Indian foods also are commendable. he analysed over 500 Indian foods for their Nutritive Values and published a detailed study report of that. This work was used for calculating dietary in-take of all nutrients. This made India the first developing country to have its own recommended dietary allowances.

“NIN today bears testimony to his genius as an architect and father of nutrition sciences in India. Research under his leadership formed the basis of major national nutrition programmes initiated in the 1970s such as ICDS [Integrated Child Development Services] and Massive Dose Vitamin-A and iron supplementation,” said R Hemalatha, director, National Institute of Nutrition.

“Gopalan was a visionary institution builder. He viewed medical and nutrition science from a holistic perspective and always wanted to address them taking a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach. His contributions to medical science in general and nutrition science in particular are immense. He, in fact, brought nutrition to centre stage and was instrumental in putting it as an important driver in developmental plans and policies of the country,” said Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research. (India Science Wire)


  1. Ramachandran, Prema; Seshadri, Malini; Gopalan, Sarath (2021). "Coluthur Gopalan. 28 November 1918 — 3 October 2019". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 71.
  2. M, Somasekhar. "Doyen of Nutrition research Colathur Gopalan no more". @businessline.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Obituary: Coluthur Gopalan (1918-2019)". Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  4. "Grierson-Gopalan syndrome". Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  5. Fellow Profile
  6. "INSA INDIA - Indian National Science Academy". INSA. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012.
  7. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.

External links[edit]

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