Bir Bhan Bhatia, who was destined to play a prominent part in medical education in Lucknow, was born at Abbotabad in the former North West Province of India, (later in East Pakistan). He was the son of Abagat Hari Chand Bhatia, a forest officer in Shahpur District of the Punjab (later in West Pakistan), and his wife, Jai Devi, daughter of Balwant Singh Bhatia, a businessman. In 1919 he went from Sri Pratap College, Srinagar, to King George Medical College, Lucknow, where he was the most distinguished student of his day, and was a house physician and demonstrator in pathology at its hospital before coming to London where he was a clinical assistant at the National Heart Hospital while studying for the M.R.C.P.
On his return home in 1928 he was appointed lecturer in pharmacology, and in 1936 consulting physician and director and reader in the department of pharmacology and materia medica at his parent hospital. Ten years later he became principal and dean, and in 1947 professor of medicine, holding the chair until his retirement in 1960.
His devoted and distinguished service was recognised when he represented his State at the B.M.A, centenary celebrations in 1939 and was twice nominated its representative in the Legislative Council of the United Provinces. The president of India gave him the title of ‘Padma Sri’, and the Central Government appointed him to the Central Committee of the Medical Council, which framed the first National formulary of India, and to the Import and Export Advisory Committee.
He was a member of many scientific bodies, including the India Medical Association, the Association of Physicians, the Cardiological and Neurological Societies, and the Pharmacy Council of the United Provinces. In 1960 he delivered the first Subash Chandra Bose oration as president of the Association of Physicians.
Dr Bhatia married twice; by his first wife Miss Shanti Devi whom he married in 1925, he had four sons. His second marriage in 1951 was to Norah, daughter of Michael Coady, an excise officer, and from this marriage there was no issue.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1962, 2, 863-4, 1067 (p).]