V. Shanta

Dr.V. Shanta is a prominent Cancer specialist and the Chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute, Chennai. Her career has included organizing care for cancer patients and research in the prevention and cure of the disease. Her work won several awards including the Magsaysay Award, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan,[1] and Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award by Government of India.[2]

She has been associated with Adyar Cancer Institute since 1955, and has held several key positions, including its Director between 1980-1997. She is a member of the World Health Organisation's Advisory Committee on Health and several other national and international committees on health and medicine.

Early life

Dr. V Shanta was born on March 11, 1927 at Mylapore, Chennai in an Iyer family. Her family includes Nobel Laureates C.V. Raman and S. Chandrasekar.[3]

She did her schooling from National Girls High School (now P.S. Sivaswamy Higher Secondary School) and had always wanted to become a Doctor. She completed her graduation from Madras Medical College in 1949, and her M.D. in 1955.

She did not have any role models, but was always inspired by her maternal uncle S. Chandrasekar and her grandfather's brother, Sir C V Raman.


When Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy set up the Cancer Institute in 1954, Dr. Shanta then had just finished her Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). She also got through the Public Service Commission examination and was posted to the Women and Children Hospital. She decided to join the Cancer Institute instead, upsetting many people.

The institute began with a single building and a cluster of huts with minimal equipment and two doctors, Dr. Shanta and Dr. Krishnamurthi. For three years she worked as honorary staff after which, the Institute offered to pay her Rs.200 per month and residence within the campus. She moved into the campus on April 13, 1955, and has remained there ever since.

She is also the member of Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission for Health.


She won the Padma Vibhushan Award in 2016

She won the Ramon Magsaysay Award. Dr. Shanta has dedicated the award to the institute.[4]

The award citation is worth quoting to describe aptly Shanta's service. It reads in part:

"In an era when specialised medical care in India has become highly commercialised, Dr. Shanta strives to ensure that the Institute remains true to its ethos, `Service to all.' Its services are free or subsidised for some 60 per cent of its 100,000 annual patients [...] eighty-Seven-year-old Shanta still sees patients, still performs surgery, and is still on call twenty-four hours a day."[5]

Shanta, an elected fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences,[6] is a recipient of the Padma Shri Award in 1986, Padma Bhushan in 2005 and Padma Vibhushan in 2016.[7]


  1. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  2. "Padma Vibhushan for Rajinikanth, Dhirubhai Ambani, Jagmohan". The Hindu. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  3. "Dr. V. Shanta From Chennai Honoured With Padma Vibhushan For Her Service In The Field Of Cancer". Logical Indian. 13 April 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  4. "Citation". Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  5. "Citation Description". Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  6. "List of Fellows — NAMS" (PDF). National Academy of Medical Sciences. 2016. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  7. "Padma Awards list" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2016. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
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