Scientist who discovered ‘Saheli’ passes away

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | January 28, 2024 IST

Lucknow, Jan 28 : Dr Nityanand, former director of Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), who discovered India’s first oral contraceptive ‘Saheli’, has passed away after a prolonged illness at SGPGIMS Lucknow. He was 99.

He passed away on Saturday. A Padma Shri awardee, Dr Nityanand is survived by sons Neeraj Nityanand and Dr Naveen Nityanand, and daughter Dr Sonia Nityanand, who is the vice-chancellor of King George’s Medical University (KGMU).

His last rites will be held on Monday.

A medical chemist, Dr Nityanand was with CDRI since its inception in 1951 and served as its director from 1974 till 1984. He published over 400 research papers and has over 130 patents and supervised 100 Ph.D students.

Dr Sonia Nityanand said, “My father was the brain behind ‘Centchroman’ a.k.a ‘Saheli’, the world’s first and only non-steroidal, non-hormonal oral, once-a-week oral contraceptive. It has been incorporated in the National Family Planning Programme of India since 2016. It was a revolutionary drug in the field of contraception, being safe. Even now it is the only non-steroidal non-hormonal contraceptive in the world, which is a matter of great pride that it has been developed in India and also in Lucknow.”

‘Saheli’ was launched by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986.

“His stay in CDRI, first as a scientist, then as head of the medicinal chemistry division (1963-1974) and later as a director (1974-1984) has been of great significance in shaping and nurturing budding scientists of the institute,” said CDRI spokesperson, senior scientist Sanjeev Yadav.

Dr Nityanand was associated with different drug policy-formulating bodies of the government of India for almost four decades and has been an adviser and consultant to many scientific bodies and institutions.



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