Year : 2009 | Volume
: 2 | Issue : 2 | Page : 115--116
Tribute to Dr. PN Behl
Venkat Charmalaya, Centre for Advanced Dermatology, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Venkat Charmalaya, Centre for Advanced Dermatology, 3437 1st G Cross 7th main Subbanna Garden, Vijay Nagar, Bangalore - 560 040
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Mysore V. Tribute to Dr. PN Behl.J Cutan Aesthet Surg 2009;2:115-116
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Mysore V. Tribute to Dr. PN Behl. J Cutan Aesthet Surg [serial online] 2009 [cited 2021 Sep 24 ];2:115-116
Available from: https://www.jcasonline.com/text.asp?2009/2/2/115/58532
"Those who knew him, would not be able to define his greatness.Those who feel they defined it, could not have known
The Association of Cutaneus Surgeons (India) (ACSI) has instituted an oration in the name of Dr. Pran Nath Behl, the father of dermatologic surgery in India. Dr. PN Behl is widely credited as the original describer of vitiligo surgery. He described thin Thiersch grafts for stable vitiligo as early as 1963-a landmark in the history of vitiligo surgery, and performed thousands of such surgeries. He described the criteria for stability of vitiligo on the basis of clinical and histological criteria. At a time when dermatosurgery was almost non-existent in India, he was a pioneer not only in vitiligo surgery but also in several other fields, such as dermabrasion and treatment of keloids.
Professor Dr. Pran Nath Behl, MB, FRCP (Edinburgh), FICAI, FIAMSl served as Professor and Head of the Department of Dermatology, Maulana Azad Medical College. But, he is more remembered as the first dermatologist in India to establish a private institute for skin, The Skin Institute and School of Dermatology at Greater Kailash, New Delhi. The institute provided wide-ranging dermatological services and was recognized by the National board of examinations, educating and training a generation of dermatologists in dermatosurgery.
Dr. PN Behl was an outstanding teacher and taught scores of students who occupy prominent positions in Indian dermatology today. He was the author of 14 books, including a book on skin surgery and histopathology of skin. He had wide-ranging interests and was knowledgeable in several fields. His books, such as The Lord of Darkness, Positive Health and Happiness, are testimony to this. He was a widely travelled man and a speaker at major international conferences. He was the international face of Indian dermatology for over three decades.
He was a clinician par excellence and emphasized the need for systematic learning of dermatology. "Morphological diagnosis, clinical diagnosis, aetiological diagnosis" were the three levels of diagnosis that he stressed. He was also concerned at the irrational use of drugs and investigations and emphasized a holistic approach in his book "Dermatology Rediscovered-A Wholistic Approach to Dermatotherapy".
He was a much sought after clinician, and patients came to him from all over India and abroad.
He had a deep concern for the poor and was a philanthropist. His often-stated motto was LIFE IS DUTY. He started a free clinic at his institute and founded "RISHI"-Rural, Industrial, Skin and Health Institute at Dasna in UP. He conducted free camps all over India. He was concerned at the state of dermatological care in rural areas and published several books to aid doctors and paramedics who practiced where dermatologists were not available-Teaching AIDS-For Medical Auxiliaries, Rural Physicians and Lay Sufferers", and "Where No Skin Specialist is Available."
He had a deep and abiding interest in herbs and started a herbal laboratory. He tried to use these herbs in dermatological conditions and wrote a book, Herbs useful In Dermatological Therapy and "Skin Irritant and Sensitising Plants Found in India." Deeply rooted in Indian traditions, he advocated a simple life, as exemplified by his books "Traditional Indian Indian Dermatology-Concepts of Past and Present", and "AIDS to Good Health." He was an innovator and used radiotherapy in skin diseases and dermabrasion for xeroderma pigmentosum, and was one of the first ones to use laser in India.
Always smiling, affable, cheerful and optimistic, he was a unique personality and left a lasting impression on those who met him and worked with him. The author worked as a resident in 1986 with Dr. Behl, and still carries fond memories of Dr. Behl's inspiring personality.
It is indeed apt and fitting that ACSI has initiated an oration in memory of this giant and legend in Indian dermatologic surgery. Our gratitude also goes to Dr. VP Koushik, who was one of Dr. Behl's first students and now a successful dermatosurgeon, for sponsoring this oration.