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Dr Anil Digambar Kulkarni, PhD (died 18 June 2022, aged 79)

 

Obituary available at In Memoriam: Anul Kulkarni, PhD, UTHealth Houston McGovern Medical School

 

Born in Miraj, India, Kulkarni came to Texas in 1970 to pursue his education, following his wife who came to the United States for a postdoctoral fellowship. He earned his PhD in immunology from the Queen’s University of Belfast, Ireland. Once in Texas, he joined The University of Texas at Austin, where he worked for two years as a research assistant before joining the Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.

 

He joined McGovern Medical School in 1979 and was named to the faculty as an assistant research professor in the Department of Surgery in 1989. He left McGovern for six years to join his wife in Missouri, returning to the McGovern faculty in 1999, where he remained until retiring as a professor in 2020.

 

He received his US citizenship in 1988 and once said that coming to Texas was a lifelong dream because he “watched too many cowboy movies in India.”

 

Kulkarni’s area of research was immuno-nutrition – the study of the preventive and therapeutic aspects of nutrition in optimal immune system functioning. His interest of health and nutrition was sparked as a boy growing up in rural India, seeing his grandfather preparing a health preserve with herbs and spices. An international leader in this field, he collaborated with researchers around the world, was an invited speaker across the globe, and mentored local and international students.

 

“He was an outstanding scientist, mentor, and teacher,” said Richard Andrassy, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery. “He was not just our co-worker but our good friend as well. Although he had a busy schedule, he ran our department chili cook-off and affectionately became known as ‘Chili Kulkarni.’”

 

In 2014, he was awarded a highly competitive Fulbright award to travel to India to teach immuno-nutrition at three universities. He received the 2014 Hind Rattan’ (Jewel of India) Award from the Non-Resident Indian Welfare Society of India, an organization under the umbrella of the Indian government. He served as chair of the Medical School’s Faculty Senate in 2005 and was president of the Texas Medical Center Minority Faculty Association in 2008.

 

He once said, “Like Nehru said, ‘I was born in India, but the whole world is my home."

 

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