My name is Pranab Chatterjee, and welcome to my online e-portfolio – a personal project where I try to document my experiences of being a student of public health medicine. In the slightly unplanned mishmash of pages and posts on this website, you shall, hopefully, find a chronological story about my career, thoughts, and reflections, emerge. The idea was that, this website, over time, would be the collection of the experiences which have shaped me up as a public health professional; whether or not I have been able to achieve that, remains up to you to decide!
Sir William Osler said: “Medicine is a jealous mistress; she will be satisfied with nothing less.”
My journey through my career in medicine has been an adventure-soaked pursuit of this flighty, feisty mistress. I have often ended up choosing to trek along the road less traveled, breaking off to admire the journey, sometimes losing track of my destination. After obtaining my medical training at Asia’s oldest teaching medical school – Medical College, Kolkata – I worked in the community setting, while studying to break into the pantheons of postgraduate education in India. Despite working in relatively affluent areas of the country, I was struck by the deep divisions of disparity which deprived sections of society from accessing quality healthcare. As I came to appreciate the impact the social determinants had on health – something that my medical school teachings had barely touched upon – my medical aspirations began to metamorphose. Eventually, when it was time for me to decide the course of my post-graduate studies, I felt I would be able to make the most impact as a Public Health practitioner. So, I chose the road less traveled by, and it has been an exciting journey! Punctuated by the self-doubts and questions that often come with unconventional decisions, I would like to believe that the road less traveled by, has taken me off into a wonderful journey – the destination, not quite clear though (and maybe that is also part of the thrill!).
After embarking on a Public Health career in India, I worked in a wide variety of settings in a short period of time, gaining a lot of hands-on knowledge, and learning through experience, often by trial and error. I have previously worked with the Public Health Foundation of India, in the Roadmap to Combat Zoonoses in India Initiative after my graduation. I am currently employed by the Indian Council of Medical Research and am affiliated with the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata. My research interests span several areas: Infectious Diseases, Antimicrobial Resistance and Health Policies. I am particularly interested in using multidisciplinary approaches to address complex healthcare issues. I am an ardent advocate of the One Health approach, and think that this needs to play a bigger role in addressing the wicked healthcare problems of our times.
Even as a medical student, the oft-touted quote, that the book on infectious diseases had been closed, fascinated me. On one hand I grew up reading about the fantastic conquests against the microbial marauders all around us, while on the other, as an overworked medic, I toiled to attend to patients suffering from outbreaks of infectious diseases. Gastroenteritis, dengue, malaria and tuberculosis continued their pillaging, oblivious of the arsenal we thought we had built up against them. This budding interest in infectious diseases, especially, in understanding how infectious disease epidemiology was affected by biological as well as social forces, pushed me towards a career in public health.
When I am not working or studying, you are likely to find me curled up with a medical non-fiction, or maybe a biography. Although I do not get a lot of time or opportunity for it, I like taking photographs, and am always hoping to improve as an amateur photographer! I listen to a whole lot of different kinds of music as well. I love traveling and think that one of the perks of a career in public health is the travel opportunities it brings. I have traveled extensively throughout India, and have been fortunate to come in close contact with the rich cultural heritage of the nation. I hope, someday, to be able to travel to all parts of the world, as a peripatetic physician, plying my trade, making lives better!