The Mycobacterial Research Laboratories

In the meantime, Sam had cleaned out one of the wards, near the road leading up to Anandaban Hospital to start the Mycobacterial Research Laboratories. This was an ambitious endeavour considering the terrain, the erratic travel options and communication.  He set up a lab with thymectomised nude mice to do in vivo studies in Leprosy.

Wards that have housed Leprosy patients for years, end up being cozy nooks and crannies that hide anything from pets, dried cheese and vegetables to chillies hung out to dry as buntings across the ward.  He spent weeks cleaning the ward and weeks fumigating the ward with formalin to get a sterile environ, before the place had a new coat of paint.

Sam used to travel overseas and return with cages of nude mice that did not impress anyone in the least. Mice were mice, were mice and they all looked nude. Mice are never dressed .They are all nude as in naked , for goodness sake, joked the hospital staff. The staff at the airport called him the Musa Doctorsahib, the mouse doctor. One day Nara Bahadur, one of the drivers who used to drive Sam to and from the airport asked me in bewilderment why , the otherwise apparently normal , Doctor-sahib, had to travel out of the country, to collect mice. He felt that he had better looking healthy mice in his house, that would cost next to nothing.

Setting up a Research Laboratory in Anadaban in the early 80s, was a herculean task. The new Lab needed staff to be recruited and trained. New state of the art equipment trundled up the road. Electricity and storage in cold temperatures were crucial and the local ambient temperature helped. However it meant that the ancilliary support system of the hospital had to be strengthened. When something was fine tuned at one end, something else would come undone and unravel at the other end. For Sam it was two steps forward and two frustrating steps backwards.

He plodded on despite the odds, often unappreciated and criticised. By the time we left, his hard work and dedication had paid off and The Mycobacterial laboratories was up and running and churning out research papers.

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