Profile: Gursaran Prasad Talwar; July 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Mukerjee; 2 Page(s)
Gazing at the cream interior of Gursaran Prasad Talwar¿s of- fice in New Delhi, I idly count about 40 framed certificates and medals-- the French Legion of Honor, the Padmabhushan from India¿s president, a dancing Shiva with a citation at its base. The medals are displayed in velvetlined cases laid open on the bookshelves, flanking brightly colored volumes on immunology and contraception. After some 30 minutes, Talwar turns around from reviewing a student¿s paper to ask what documents I need. The 70-yearold man projects an aura of power and vigor. His accented, measured speech is touched with an edge of wariness; I wonder why. I collect a volume and leave. The real interview is the following day, a Saturday, at Talwar¿s home.
Talwar, declares Sheldon Segal of the Population Council in New York City, is one of the top three scientists from the developing countries--"maybe the top one." In the 1970s Talwar pioneered a contraceptive vaccine that induces antibodies against part of the reproductive process in women. As the founder of India¿s National Institute of Immunology (NII) in 1986, he is credited with creating a world-class institute and training a generation of scientists. The ventures flowing from his fertile brain include a vaccine against leprosy, a topical contraceptive derived from the neem tree, a male contraceptive vaccine and others against prostate and lung cancer.