Department of Neurological Sciences, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.
Jacob Chandy, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 97, was born into a deeply religious Christian family in Kerala, South India. After obtaining his medical education at the Madras Medical College, Madras, he serendipitously came to work with Dr Paul Harrison, a renowned medical missionary, in the Gulf state of Bahrain. Harrison urged Chandy to pursue training in the fledgling specialty of neurosurgery in North America. Chandy received his neurosurgical training at the Montreal Neurological Institute with Wilder Penfield and in Chicago with Theodore Rasmussen. At Harrison's urging, Chandy decided to return to India after completing his training to work at the Christian Medical College in Vellore. Thus, it was in 1949 that Chandy established the first neurosurgery department in south Asia in Vellore. He initiated the first neurosurgical training program in India at the Christian Medical College in 1957, with a distinct North American neurosurgical tradition. He went on to train nearly 20 neurosurgeons, many of whom set up new departments of neurosurgery in their home states. Chandy also had several other remarkable achievements to his credit. Despite the pressures of clinical practice, he insisted on fostering both basic and clinical neurosciences within his department, an arrangement that persists to this day in the Department of Neurological Sciences at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. As the Principal (Dean) of the Christian Medical College, Chandy displayed his skills as a medical educator and administrator. In this role, he was instrumental in starting specialty training programs in several other medical and surgical disciplines. His greatest legacies survive in the form of the department that he founded and his trainees and their students who have helped to establish neurosurgery all over the country.