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- 5 May 2021 -

In memory of Professor Gouri S. Bhattacharrya

Last weekend, the international oncology community learned the sudden demise of one of its most admired and valuable members, Prof Gouri Shankar Bhattacharrya, who succumbed to Covid-19.

Prof Bhattacharrya was a recognised and eminent medical oncologist and researcher based in Kolkata, India. Throughout his career, he made significant contributions to breast cancer treatment in his region. Together with his colleagues, he was fighting the limited access to cancer diagnosis procedures and treatments in South Asia and the lack of awareness about breast cancer in some segments of the population. 

One can only applaud and honour his relentless commitment and efforts to improve uniformity of care, develop education campaigns, and prioritise research to better address patient’s needs.

His main interests included gastro-intestinal, breast and lung cancer, and in particular palliative care and geriatric oncology. In addition, to address the difficulty of getting access to novel treatments in his region, he was exploring ways to repurpose inexpensive and widely available drugs that are established in other areas of medicine.

Prof Bhattacharrya was also very active at the international level. As a founding member of the Indian Co-Operative Oncology Network (ICON ARO) and official representative of the group within the BIG network since 2009, he contributed to India’s involvement in large clinical trials, such as ALTTO and NeoALTTO. Despite the challenges, he was confident that South Asia could play a bigger role in global breast cancer research in the near future.

Prof Bhattacharrya was a member of numerous national associations. Among others, he was Past President of the Indian Society of Medical Paediatric Oncology (ISMPO) and a founding member of the Indian Association of Cancer Research (IACR) and of ICON Biorepository. He was also a member of the Task Force for Management of Cancer at the Indian Council for Medical Research (Government of India) and of the Planning Committee of the National Cancer Control Program.

At the international level, he was a member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), the International Cardi-Oncological Society (ICOS) and of ESMO’s Global Policy Committee. He was part of the Governance Council of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG), a member of the US NCI-NIH’s Task Force for Gastro-intestinal cancer and Hepato-biliary cancer and of the Global Advanced Breast Cancer Alliance. He was also part of the World Health Organisation Steering Committee for Oncology.

Prof Bhattacharrya authored more than 200 papers and was a member of various Editorial Boards, such as ESMO Open, the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO), the Journal of Geriatric Oncology, Critical Reviews in Oncology/ Hematology (CROH), Journal of Global Oncology–ASCO, Journal of Annals of Translational Medicine, the Asian Journal of Clinical Oncology Reviewer for International Journal of Gynecological Cancer (IJGC), the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, among others.

“It was a real honour and pleasure to have had Gouri within the BIG family. Gouri was very much appreciated, not only for his leadership and extensive knowledge but also for his humanity, optimism and openness. Together with our other colleagues based in India, he dedicated his efforts to better address patients’ needs and has significantly contributed to moving research forward in this region.”
- Prof David Cameron, BIG Chair

Today the breast cancer community has lost one of its leading researchers, and many cancer specialists around the world have also lost a dear friend. He will be greatly missed. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family, friends, and colleagues.