Indian Journal of Rheumatology

: 2019  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 85--86

Obituary Prakash Pispati

Rohini Handa 
 Rheumatology Department, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Rohini Handa
Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi

How to cite this article:
Handa R. Obituary Prakash Pispati.Indian J Rheumatol 2019;14:85-86

How to cite this URL:
Handa R. Obituary Prakash Pispati. Indian J Rheumatol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jul 11 ];14:85-86
Available from:

Full Text


Prakash Pispati, former President of the Indian Rheumatology Association (IRA), passed away into eternity on October 18, 2018.

Friend to countless rheumatologists across the globe, doctor to innumerable patients, mentor to dozens of youngsters, this passionate advocate of rheumatology led a full life.

Dr. Prakash Pispati was born in Baroda (now Vadodara), India on August 12, 1938. His father was a doctor. He completed his schooling in a Marathi medium vernacular school in Mumbai and subsequently graduated in chemistry and microbiology from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. He went on to study medicine at the renowned Grant Medical College and Sir JJ Group of Hospitals where he obtained his MSc in Medicine and MD. He was a Gold Medallist in Pharmacology. Dr. Pispati was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, London, in 1990.

In his early career, he worked as the Medical Director of Boots and was actively engaged as a directorial team member in antirheumatic research culminating in the introduction of ibuprofen. He went on to attend multiple courses and rotatory sabbaticals at several centers in the UK and USA including the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath and the Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia. In his words, “am gratefully impacted by so many outstanding Rheumatology teachers and inspiring personalities in the UK, USA, Asia Pacific, and indeed India.” He started consultant practice at Mumbai in 1979–1980. He was Director of Rheumatology at Jaslok Hospital Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, and Senior Consultant Rheumatologist at the Saifee Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. He was instrumental in organizing free arthritis camps every month for nearly 5 years treating over 6400 needy patients and taking Rheumatology to the doorsteps of the community.

Communication was Prakash Pispati's forte. He was a sought after speaker and had the distinction of lecturing in all the continents. His talks were full of humor and he reveled in getting the attention, involvement, and active participation of the audience. As he would often say, “there are two types of speakers in the world - those who make simple things complex and those who make complex things simple.” He characterized the latter. He was a regular at the Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology (APLAR), EULAR, ACR, ILAR meetings, and the IRACONs (annual meetings of the IRA). His childlike curiosity was evident at all these conferences where one would find him in animated conversation with the speakers and attendees, be it the nuances of molecular biology or history of medicine or advances in clinical rheumatology. Not for Prakash the passive participation as a backbencher. Rather it was active engagement that left an indelible mark on all those who came in contact with him. After the hectic academic deliberations, he would be game to the party, sightsee, and explore the city. His indefatigable spirit and infectious enthusiasm epitomized joie de vivre.

Apart from communication, the other outstanding quality of Prakash Pispati was his superb organizational capability. He had an eye for detail, flair for impeccable planning, and a penchant for meticulous execution. This was proven time, and again in the organizations, he went on to lead - the IRA and the APLAR. IRA was his first love, and he nurtured the fledgling organization over several decades when it was headquartered at Mumbai. He served IRA as its Secretary and then President. He was a stickler for protocol. Not the one to brook tardiness, he had his share of detractors. However, he had the resilience to appreciate another person's viewpoint and conceded ground if convinced by logical reasoning. Prakash Pispati was also the President of APLAR where he initiated the formation of Rheumatology societies in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. To commemorate APLAR's 50th anniversary in 2013, he put together a volume “APLAR at 50: Celebration and Inspiration” that chronicled Rheumatology endeavors in 29 member nations and was released at the APLAR Congress in Bali.

Prakash was the founding Editor of Manual of Rheumatology, India's first multi-author textbook of Rheumatology, now in its 5th edition. He was editor in chief of the first two editions. He went on to moot and execute the idea of a quarterly news bulletin - The Voice of APLAR. VOA was launched at a glittering ceremony at APLAR Congress Shanghai on September 26, 2016. The idea was to entertain, inform, and involve rheumatology diaspora across the Asia Pacific and other parts of the world with news, essays, commentaries, and snippets. He successfully edited it for 2 years.

During a long and illustrious career, Dr. Pispati received several awards and accolades notably MN Passey Award by the IRA for his distinguished contribution to the Indian Rheumatology, APLAR Honorary Member, Master of APLAR, and Master of ACR.

Apart from Rheumatology, Prakash Pispati was a sportsman with a tremendous spirit for adventure. He was a regular tennis player and keenly interested in sailing. He did parasailing, paragliding, helicopter, and floatplane trips in Alaska, landing in remote lakes and areas and exploring them. He would always say “tennis teaches me to applaud better players” and on sailing “am humbled by the ocean-so vast and deep. Is Medicine any different?”

His wife, Dr. Hemalata Pispati, was Professor of Physiology at TN Medical College and Nair Hospital, Mumbai, and predeceased him. They are survived by two accomplished children, a son, an orthopedic surgeon at Mumbai, and a daughter, a dentist at Toronto.

In his later years, he would say “I don't lecture anymore am a storyteller. If creative researchers are the DNA of Rheumatology, then may I be its modest messenger RNA.” His swan song at the last APLAR conference he attended at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in September 2018 was titled “Expression and Impression - How to, rather How NOT to Stage Scientific Presentation: Interactive, participative Golden Hour” He was lecturing till 2 days before his sudden death.

Rest in Peace my friend. The fraternity of Rheumatology salutes you.