Saumya Swaminathan is a Chief Scientist of World Health Organization and is an Pediatrician and clinical scientist who is known for her research in tuberculosis and HIV.
Soumya Swaminathan was born on 2 May 1959 (61 years) in Chennai,India. Her zodiac sign is Taurus. She is a MBBS from Armed Forces Medical College, Pune and has done her M.D in pediatrics from All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi. Futhur She has done her post doctoral medical fellowship in neontology and pediatric pulmonology at the children’s hospital Los Angeles at the Keck School of Medicine in California. This was followed by a fellowship from the Department of Pediatric Respiratory Diseases from University of Leicester, UK. In 1992 Soumya returned back to India after which she joined The National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis in Chennai, Tamil nadu. Soumya continued her research in Tuberculosis and HIV for almost 23 years. She was appointed as the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2015. In 2017 Soumya was appointed as the Deputy Director General of World Health Organization in Geneva , Switzerland and was later promoted as the Chief Scientist of World Health Organization.
Soumya Swaminathan comes from a well renowned family. She has grown up in a family where, education and science were the key pillars. Saumya Swaminathan has two sisters. She along with her family lived in the campus of Indian Agricultural Research Institute. C.V. Raman and Vikram Sarabhai were their frequent home guest.
Parents & Siblings
Saumya’s role model her father, Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan is an Indian Agriculturist Scientist, who is the global leader of the Green Revolution and the person behind the introduction and further development of high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice.
Soumya Swaminathan with her father
Meena Swaminathan is the mother of Soumya Swaminathan, who is a Indian educationist in the field of pre school education. Meena Swaminathan has written several books on the subject of drama and the child development. Saumya Swaminathan has two sisters. Dr Madhura Swaminathan, who is the Professor and Head of the Economic Analysis Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore and is also the Chairperson of the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai and Nitya Swaminathan who is the Senior lecturer at the university of East Anglia . During her childhood Saumya and her sisters would accompany their mother to the creches her mother ran for the children of poor construction workers and at times they would also meet the farmers whenever their father would take them to the field trips. These expriences brought a sense of duty and compassion in Saumya which helped her in becoming a dedicated person.
Soumya Swaminathan with her father, mother and two sisters
Soumya Swaminathan is married to Ajit Yadav who is an Orthopedic surgeon.
Soumya Swaminathan researched mainly on Tuberculosis, about its various risk factor and HIV. She researched for almost 23 years. Swaminathan along with her colleagues were among the first to scale up the use of molecular diagnostics for TB surveillance and to deliver TB treatment to underserved populations. She was part of the TB Zero City Project in Chennai which aimed to create “Islands of elimination” working with local governments, institutions and grassroots associations. In 2009 Swaminathan became the Coordinator of the World Health Orgnization Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva. Soumya became the Director of National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) in Chennai in 2012 and after 3 years she was appointed as the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research.
Soumya Swaminathan Director general of ICMR
She was the second women to lead the institution overseeing 30 research institutions. In that position, she focused on bringing science and evidence into health policy making, building research capacity in Indian medical schools.
Soumya Swaminathan recieving farewell as the Director of ICMR
In october 2017 Soumya Swaminathan was appointed as the Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization
Soumya Swaminathan Deputy Director General of WHO
Because of her constant hard work and her passion she was promoted as the first Chief Scientist at WHO in 2019, that mainly included health related research into clear guidelines for all the nations.
Soumya Swaminathan Chief Scientist of WHO
In 2021, Swanminathan was also appointed to the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership (PPP), an expert group chaired by Patrick Vallance to advise the presidency held by the government of Prime Minister Boris Jhonson.
- In 2011 she recieved Kshanika Oration Award for Indian Council of Medical Research in New Delhi from Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Soumya Swaminathan recieving Kshanika Oration Award
- Soumya was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Indian Association of applied Microbiologist in 2011.
- In 2012 she was awarded with Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Award
- Soumya recieved award from the Indian Academy of Science, Banglore in 2013.
- In 2016 Soumya Swaminathan was awarded with NIPER ASTRAZENECA research award
- Soumya Swaminathan was honoured with recoginition of her advisory role in combating the Covid-19 pandemic inTamil Nadu by the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
- Apart from research Soumya Swaminathan keeps an interest in reading books of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, adventure books, books of Rabindra Nath Tagore and she is the huge fan of Indian Literature.
- Soumya has always helped the undeserved poulation. In 90’s she raised funds to get antiretrovial drugs to the families affected by the HIV epidemic
- At times Soumya used to go to farms with her father where the farmers would take various health advises from her.
- From the age of five Soumya knew what a Ph.D thesis is, many Ph.D students would come home to discuss work with her father.
- In her childhood days Soumya visited her fathers lab and exprimental wheat field which created a passion in her to become a medical researcher .
- Once She spent her summer vaccation in Calcutta University to study genetics and work with Dr Archaraya Sharma.
- When Soumya Soumya Swaminathan was not given admission in PGI chandigarh due to her coming late for admission. when she was the Director General in ICMR she was invited as the guest speaker in PGI on 21Feb 2016.
- Soumya likes outdoor activities and physical excercise and she considers her friends to be her greatest source of support.
- Soumya Swaminathan often visits various schools and colleges for educational talks.
Soumya Swaminatahn visits for educational talk
- Soumya wanted to become a Veterinarian as she was fond of animals but all her friends were preparing for medical entrance exam so she also started preparing for the same .
- As a researcher at the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis in Chennai, she would travel to the homes of her poor patients and even look after their orphaned children
- Soumya Swaminathan with the help of her father helped various farmers and poor people who were going through HIV, malaria, Tuberculosis
- Soumya Swaminatahn from being an Indian Doctor to representing a global institution Soumya’s contribution in the field of science is long lasting
- Dr P R Narayanan was the Director of the Tuberculosis Research Centre has worked with her for long years.