Indian J Gastroenterol 2010(January–February):29(1):7–8
As a departure from the regular tradition of proﬁling the
president, this year we bring a candid interview with Pro-
fessor Gour Choudhuri, President of Indian Society of
Gastroenterology (ISG). The outlook being that: ‘Mankind
is not a circle with a single center but an ellipse with two
focal points of which facts are one and ideas the other’.
And a face-to-face interview will provide us with the ideas
of the man who is leading the ISG this year, and ideas are
often blessed with more potential than facts.
Dr Choudhuri graduated from JIPMER, Pondicherry
in 1978. He did his post-graduation in Internal Medicine
and thereafter completed fellowship in Gastroenterology,
both from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences,
New Delhi. In 1985, he joined the faculty at IGIMS,
Patna, and in 1987 joined the Department of Gastroen-
terology at SGPGI, Lucknow, which he has been heading
since 2002. He has served as the Honorary Secretary of
ISG for six years.
What prompted you to choose medicine? Was it a realistic
decision in absence of other options?
While studying at Loyola School, Jamshedpur, my idol
was Father Kirsh, my teacher. He was a D. Sc in Science,
a member of the team which made the nuclear bomb. It
was but natural to get enamored with science under his
tutelage. I had a ﬂair for humanities and Mathematics
was my handicap. Hence, I opted for a career which had
a touch of science as well as humanities. It was a very
conscious decision, rather than as a ‘lack-of-alternative’
Would you like to revise the decision in retrospect?
My second choice was philosophy. Being a physician pro-
vided ample opportunities for the humane touch, and at the
same time working for the people. If not exactly altruism,
then certainly the spirit of social consciousness, the spirit of
selﬂessness still binds me to this profession.
Which books/leaders inﬂuenced you in the growing
In my early years I was captivated by Victor Hugo, Leo
Tolstoy and Aldoux Huxley. Thereafter, it was Somerset
Maugham, A. J. Cronin and Arthur Conan Doyle; all three
of them possibly attracted me because they were physicians
as well as literary ﬁgures. Albert Schweitzer’s works had
a discerning impact on me. He was a humanitarian, theo-
logian, missionary, musician and a physician. The English
translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’ has been a
constant travel companion as it appeals to my heart. Ber-
trand Russell may have jocularly remarked that ‘Not to
be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things
in rationality;’ but from his works I learned to look at the
whole picture rather than limit myself to dogmatic thoughts.
I have also been inﬂuenced by Mother Teresa. I have been
providing voluntary service at her center at Lucknow and
Navjyoti school for blind children. The association has con-
tinued since 1989, and every year we celebrate the birthdays
of our children with the inmates of this center.
You successfully organized the ISG annual conference in
Patna in 1986 when you had just started your career. How
was the experience?
The driving philosophy for me has been to cherish chal-
lenges and transform them into stepping stones. At Patna I
was asked to organize the annual ISG conference and I took
the challenge as the youngest organizing secretary (I was
30 years old then).
What have been your major achievements as ISG sec-
I had inherited a smoothly running society from my prede-
cessors. On my own part I set out to add a dash of vibrancy
and enthusiasm. The agenda was to achieve a better session
quality with more engaging scientiﬁc deliberations. The
work done for ISG includes setting up the website and
Indian J Gastroenterol 2010(January–February):29(1):7–8
Gourdas Choudhuri – President, Indian
Society of Gastroenterology 2009-2010
© Indian Society of Gastroenterology 2010
8 Presidential profile
1 Springer Indian J Gastroenterol 2010(January–February):29(1):7–8
online abstract submission. Efforts were made to encourage
young researchers, the number of awards went to 40 awards
per year. Younger gastroenterologists were invited as
faculty. National task forces, and nation-wide multi-centric
studies were started for the ﬁrst time. Travel fellowships
were initiated for international meetings and we developed
closer interactions with international societies like WCOG,
APDW, BSG and ACG.
Every individual has some vision and the society’s vision
is often an amalgamation of all such constructive visions;
collecting such visions, separating the wheat from the chaff
and projecting the ﬁnal dream is a ﬁne art. I have batted for
the younger crowd of ISG, as I feel the potential to achieve
is maximum amongst them. Teaching has been my passion.
I have conceptualized short-training programs for GI fel-
lowship trainees in the form of Grand Young Masters and
Young Clinicians Program.
As ISG secretary what do you consider missed opportunities?
Of the planned 4-6 task forces only two have delivered. We
created a ISG research foundation which reached the con-
ceptualization stage but did not hit the road.
What is your mission as President?
My major objectives are development of patient support
networks and formation of advocacy groups for planning
out and supporting policy initiatives.
You are currently heading one of the ﬁnest Gastroenter-
ology departments in the country. What would you rate as
impact making contributions from your side?
The Department at SGPGI, Lucknow was started by late
Professor S. R. Naik, and we remain indebted to him for
his vision. I have remained inspired by his philosophy and
I think my major contribution has been letting individuals
grow. I believe that members of faculty in my department
are highly talented and like artists need their space to grow;
they have brought national and international acclaim to our
department. I have never curtailed the multifaceted growth
of my colleagues.
How do you rate yourself as a researcher?
I started working on hepatobiliary and pancreatic diseases.
I initiated endoscopic ultrasonography in 1989 in India and
ESWL in 1991. I may have published a multitude of papers
(almost 200), however truthfully speaking I feel my career
as a researcher could have been better.
What do you feel about industry-academia partnership?
A huge change has taken place in the last one decade. Earlier
the industry was considered as a pariah. On the ﬂip side,
getting too close with industry and getting identiﬁed with
it is a problem. I believe that the right thinking person at
senior positions in industry can foster strategic partnerships
for academia’s beneﬁt. A good example of such partnership
is the ‘Human genome project’ which was completed ahead
of time because of positive relationship between the industry
and the academia.
What role has your wife played in your career decisions?
I met my wife, Arundhati in 1985 after I had ﬁnished my
fellowship. Arundhati came from a well off family and
was used to everyday luxuries. However she supported
my endeavor to pursue academics even though it was not a
lucrative option. If I ever feel like leaving academic med-
icine, it would be a tough job for me to convince her consid-
ering the best years of our life were without luxuries.
Do you think you have inﬂuenced career choices for your
My father was a judge and he never inﬂuenced me as far as
career options were concerned. Similarly I encouraged my
kids to make their own decisions based on their aptitude and
interest. My daughter, Jui, has joined medicine. I suspect
because daughters try to emulate fathers. My son, Deep
likes to take the shortest route to the top and is studying law
at National Law School, Gandhinagar.
You are a clinician who serves the people and altruism
excites you. Are there any other activities you initiated?
I relish doing anything which is constructive, which gives
a sense of direction to the younger lot and is not neces-
sarily always connected with only gastroenterology. Fas-
cinated with the concept of health promotion, I undertook
a WHO fellowship in Australia in 2004. The fellowship
dealt with public health awareness and changing atti-
tudes and policies. Since then four WHO projects and one
UNICEF project on health promotion have been initiated
by me to promote health amongst students. I started HOPE
initiative (www.hope.org.in) and now we reach out to
500,000 students in Uttar Pradesh. I am dedicated towards
holistic health providing services and contributing to com-
prehensive health care. I have rediscovered my passion for
writing, and contribute regularly to a healthcare column
in a national newspaper. My write-ups are available on
Thank you Dr Choudhuri for what has been an excep-
tional insight into you, for a very forthright interview.
Your perceptive vision encompassed with ample dexterity
is the largess from which the ISG has been the bene-
factor until now and will continue to do so in the coming
Vineet Ahuja, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New
Delhi . e-mail: email@example.com