PHDL Scientific Director Inaugural Lecturer (01 March 2019)

Photo of a girl in India getting water at a manual pump

Published 01 March 2019

Dr. Saumyadipta Pyne, Scientific Director of Public Health Dynamics Lab and faculty member of Biostatistics, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, will be delivering the first Dr. Dipankar Chakraborti Memorial Lecture on 'Geostatistical Prediction Models in Public Health' at Jadavpur University, India, on March 15, 2019. Dr. Pyne was recently appointed an Honorary Adviser to India's National Institute of Medical Statistics in New Delhi.

In the ongoing fight against what is regarded (PDF) as "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history because groundwater used for drinking has been contaminated with naturally occurring inorganic arsenic" in parts of South Asia, Dr. Dipankar Chakraborti (1943-2018) was among the foremost global leaders. Dr. Chakraborti (popularly known as Dip), a dedicated field researcher and environmental chemist, was also committed to welfare of the victims of this geogenic environmental exposure.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Chakraborti left his academic position in the U.S. to return to India to direct the School of Environmental Studies at Jadavpur University. His extensive research highlighted the severity of groundwater arsenic contamination in the Ganga River Basin (GRB), which encompasses significant geographic portions of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Tibet. His team studied several populations for dermal, neurological, reproductive, cognitive, and cancerous effects of arsenicosis.

In his last paper, "Groundwater Arsenic Contamination in the Ganga River Basin: A Future Health Danger", Dr. Chakraborti noted, "This alarming situation resembles a ticking time bomb. We feel that after 29 years of arsenic research in the GRB, we have seen the tip of the iceberg with respect to the actual magnitude of the catastrophe."

Photo courtesy World Health Organization (WHO)