September 10, 1932 – December 9, 2021
Dr. Udipi Madhvanath, known to his close friends as “Uma” and in certain circles as “SriG appa” passed away at home in Bangalore on December 9th, 2021 following a brief illness. He was 89.
He will be fondly remembered for his selflessness, generosity, kindness and his love for feeding people. And for those in the medical physics community, as one of the founding fathers of Medical Physics as a discipline in India.
Orphaned at a young age without much financial means, he relied on hard work, various odd jobs, and the generosity of well wishers to put himself through school and college, eventually completing his MSc in Physics from Presidency College, Chennai, and joining Bhabha Atomic Research Centre as a scientist. He took a leave of absence to go to UC Berkeley on a Fulbright scholarship where he completed his PhD in Biophysics, studying the impact of radiation on blood cells. He returned to BARC and eventually retired as the Head of the Division of Radiological Protection (DRP) in 1992.
He was one of the founding members and first president of the Association of Medical Physics of India (AMPI). He went on to become the President of the International Organization of Medical Physics (IOMP) and the Vice-President of the International Union of Physics and Engineering Sciences in Medicine (IUPESM), the first asian to hold these posts. He was honored as one of the inaugural fellows of IUPESM in 2018 for a lifetime of contributions to medical physics.
A partial list of his scientific publications may be found here.
Following his retirement from BARC in 1992, he turned down offers to teach and consult, to instead focus on the inward journey. The scientist that he was, he devoured various books and experimented with diverse spiritual traditions and techniques. Ironically however, his daily practices were rooted in bhakti (devotion) rather than intellectual inquiry or quiet meditation. He was deeply devoted to Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba, the divine mother Lalitha, and his wife’s kula devata Murugan.
(to be continued)
We will continue to update this post with an overview of his extraordinary personal and professional life. but for now, please feel free to share your thoughts and memories by leaving a comment.