Eminent Oral Pathologist Dr R Viswanathan passes away at 89

Chennai: In an unfortunate incident, a well-known retired senior professor of Madras Dental College and former dean of Ragas Dental College in Tamil Nadu, Dr R. Viswanathan passed away at age 89 on 18th April 2023.  

He was born on April 1934 and belonged to the first batch of the dental wing of Madras Dental College. He completed his undergraduate program in 1959 and immediately joined the governmental medical services. 

In the year 1968, he secured the “Leverhulme Trust” Scholarship and trained for a year under Prof Ivor Kramer at the Department of Oral Pathology and Medicine at the Institute of Dental Sciences, Eastman Dental School, London. On his return to Chennai, he proceeded to complete his Master’s program in Oral Pathology at Nair Dental College, Mumbai.

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Upon completion of his master’s, he returned to Chennai where he established the dedicated oral pathology department in his alma mater. He was later deputed to Al-Arab Medical University, Benghazi, Libya. On his return from Libya, he rejoined the governmental cadre and was instrumental in furthering the Oral Pathology Master’s Program at Tamil Nadu Government Dental College. 

He retired from governmental services as the principal of Tamil Nadu Government Dental College in 1992. During his active tenure in governmental service, he was the professor and guide for 15 batches of oral pathologists and was involved actively in designing the academic curriculum for under- and post-graduate studies in the state of Tamil Nadu and at the national level. He had served as the examiner to nearly all dental colleges in India.

After retirement, he joined Ragas Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, as its professor of oral pathology and dean. He went on to initiate the master’s program in the college and actively engaged in research. His passion for dental research was instrumental in publishing several international dental journals. He has contributed to the topic “Helminthic Infections” in the textbook of “Oral Diseases of the Tropics” and edited the “HIV Handbook for Dentists.” Also, he has guided seven research projects of the Indian Council of Medical Research and the State Government of Tamil Nadu.

As per a media report in the Mylapore Times, He was one of the founding members of the Indian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists.Dr. Viswanathan also extended his services to the poor and needy by supporting several social service organisations.

In recognition of his immense and valuable contribution to the field of oral pathology and the Indian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists, an oration in his name was instituted and has been running successfully for more than 20 years. Fondly referred to as the “Bhishma of Oral Pathology” by his students and their students, he remains a beacon of inspiration to all aspiring oral pathologists.

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