Renowned oncologist and chairperson of the Cancer Institute in Chennai, Dr V Shanta, who is noted for her outstanding contribution to cancer care, died early on Tuesday.
She was 93.
Sources at the Cancer Institute said Dr Shanta was rushed to hospital after she complained of chest pain last night at about 9 pm.
She had a massive block which could not be removed. Her end came at about 3.55 am., said a senior oncologist at the institute.
Her body was moved to the old Cancer Institute premises, which she helped build.
Her work won several awards, including the Magsaysay Award, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan.
Dr Shanta was active till her hospitalisation. During the pandemic, she expressed concern about the new challenges to healthcare that was brought by the lockdown, the institute said.
Lauding Dr Shanta as a doyen of cancer care, Dr Ananda Raja, of the institute said, "She may have passed away but her work lives on forever," he said.
Hailing from a family of Nobel laureates -- Sir CV Raman and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Shanta graduated (MBBS) in 1949, DGO in 1952 and MD, in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1955.
In April 1955, she joined the fledgeling Cancer Institute, established in 1954 by the Womens' Indian Association Cancer Relief Fund, as its resident medical officer in preference to the assistant surgeon's post in the Women & Children's Hospital, Chennai, to which she had been selected by the Madras Public Service Commission.
She played an important role along with Dr Krishnamurthi in developing the Cancer Institute from a cottage hospital of 12 beds to a major comprehensive Cancer Centre of national and international stature.
Dr Venkatraman Radhakrishnan, Medical and pediatric oncologist, said duty exemption for cancer drugs, free travel for cancer patients in trains and buses, and making cancer a notifiable disease in Tamil Nadu were among her numerous achievements.
She was the force behind the first cancer registry in India, and pioneered in several aspects including initiating the first screening programme in India for cancer besides establishing the first pediatric oncology unit at the institute, he said.
"She also started pediatric oncology as a speciality in India and helped significantly in the progress of the specialty. The first pediatric oncology unit in India was established in Cancer Institute in 1960. She was the first pediatric oncologist in India," he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of Dr V Shanta and said she will be remembered for her outstanding efforts to ensure top-quality cancer care.
"Dr V Shanta will be remembered for her outstanding efforts to ensure top-quality cancer care. The Cancer Institute at Adyar, Chennai is at the forefront of serving the poor and downtrodden. I recall my visit to the Institute in 2018. Saddened by Dr V Shanta's demise. Om Shanti," the prime minister tweeted.