Gupta was a pioneering scientist and an artist of life. His
great quest in life was to understand the hormonal and molecular
changes that promoted growth and development from foetal life
through puberty. The research concerning the onset of puberty
was one of his significant contributions to science. From that
base, he developed research that explained the role of the pineal
gland in puberty development. He explored the connection between
the pineal gland, immune functions and cancer. Through his research
he was able to show the bridge between the immune system and
neuroendocrinology, which he called the dialogue between mind
and body for better understanding of the basis of bio-medical
and psychological sciences.
Derek Gupta began work in London 40 years ago at the Hammersmith
Hospital, the Royal Institute for Post Graduate Medicine and
after that at the Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond
In the final decade of his life, Derek Gupta was passionately
dedicated to understand how a mother's emotions during pregnancy
impacted on the hormonal and emotional development of her child.
At his death he was President Elect of the International Society
for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine. As well
as having founded and edited the Neuroendocrinology Letters
- an International Scientific Journal for twenty years, he also
served as a consultant and a co-editor of the International
Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Medicine. He
also served on the editorial board of 11 other international
journals and was a member of 20 learned societies.
Derek Gupta encapsulated the best of an eastern and western
man. He was born and brought up in Calcutta, India just as the
20th century was entering its second quarter. His family offered
him traditional as well as Anglo Saxon foundations and his intellectual
roots were deeply grounded. In the 19th Century, one of his
grandfathers founded and edited the first Bengali daily newspaper
and another was a well-known poet and writer. He took delight
in translating Bengali poems into English and vice versa as
well as writing his own poetry, which he often wrote as introductions
to the many medical conferences he organized.
graduated with a B.Sc. degree from the University of Calcutta
in 1948, Derek Gupta worked as a junior lecturer at the Calcutta
Technical School and as a biochemist at the Calcutta Medical
School. His talents and potentials being recognized, in 1958
he was invited to London by Prof. E. J. King of the Royal Post
Graduate Medical School (University of London) as a research
assistant. There he developed new technologies for assessment
of steroid hormones through chromatography. Later, in 1959,
he took up the position of Assistant Lecturer at the Institute
of Child Health (University of London) moving up to Lecturer
in 1961 and Senior Lecturer in 1965. In cooperation with Prof.
J. M. Tanner (Growth Hormones) he pioneered and published the
hormonal mechanism of sexual and adrenal steroids in childhood
and puberty. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1965 and
Ph.D. in Medicine in 1968 from the University of London while
still working at the Institute for Child Health.
In 1969, Professor Jürgen Bierich, noted German Endocrinologist
invited Derek Gupta to move to West Germany to take up the post
of first Director of the newly created Department of Diagnostic
Endocrinology at the Children's Hospital at the University of
Tübingen, a post he held for 25 years until his retirement
in 1993. In 1971 he earned the degree of Privat Dozent (D.Sc.)
becoming a professor in 1973. In 1976 Derek Gupta became a Member
of the Royal College of Pathologist (MRCPath) and later in 1979
became a Fellow (FRCPath) there.
Tübingen Derek Gupta earned his reputation as an advocate
of neuroendocrinology research. Continuing his work regarding
growth development in puberty, he was an influence on the way
pediatric endocrinology developed internationally. He was one
of the first scientists to prove the unity and indivisibility
of Psychoneuroendocrinology and Psychoneuroimmunology from the
very beginning of human development. As a pioneer, as early
as 1975, he described hypothalamic hormones. In that same year,
he published Radioimmunoassay of Steroid Hormones', in 1977
Adrenal Diseases: in 1979 Hormones in Childhood; in ^9Q4 Endocrinology
of Puberty; in 1985 The Neuroendocrinology of Hormone Transmitter
Interactions; in 1986 The Pineal Gfand during Development which
described its regulatory role in development of puberty. Later,
in 1987 he co-edited the summarizing work on various functions
of the pineal gland on the immune system and its role in cancer
(1988); and in 1990, Neuroendocrinology: New Frontiers; a total
of 14 books written or edited with over 200 original papers
Gupta supervised and inspired 140 postgraduate candidates to
the completion of their Doctoral Thesis. He founded and edited
the highly respected Neuroendocrinology Letters giving many
young and talented researchers who later became famous their
first opportunity to publish.
Gupta was professionally and personally respected, and highly
appreciated for his creativity and humorous approach to life.
He was one of the most talented and beloved members of his scientific
community that will miss not only his professional acumen but
also his sincere and generous friendship. Feeling solidarity,
he was helpful and supportive to young scientists from Eastern
Europe and the third world returning the support he had received
when he came from Calcutta to London. He approached his science
and his poetry from his heart probing deeply into the processes
of the human condition, enthusiastic for life and people, working
and bringing everything to completion even to his last days.
are Derek Gupta's last lines:
we call the beginning is often the end.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
He is survived by his wife Dr. Bhakti Datta-Gupta and two daughters
Mita Madden and Ratna Dutt.
Memorial Symposium to celebrate the life and work of Derek Gupta
"Neurosciences in the 21st Century" was held at the
Royal Society of Medicine in London on September 13, 1997, organized
and chaired by the undersigned.
Stockholm and Prague