International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Dr Charles K Job

    Status Physician, Medical Researcher
    Country India


    Dr Charles K Job

    Extracted from The Indian Leprologists Look Back. Wadala, Bombay: Acworth Leprosy Hospital Society for Research, Rehabilitation and Education in Leprosy, 1990.

  • K C Sahu Gold Medal (1971)

  • JALMA Trust Fund Oration Award of ICMR (1980)

  • 1959 to 1962 – Lecturer in Pathology, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, India

  • 1959 to 1981 – Consultant Pathologist, Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre, Karagiri, India

  • 1959 to 1968 – Superintendent, Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre, Karagiri, India

  • 1962-1981 – Head of Department of Pathology, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, India

  • 1975 to 1978 – Medical Superintendent, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, India

  • 1978 to 1981 – Principal, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, India

  • 1972-1973 – President, Indian Association of Leprologists

  • 1984 onwards – Vice President, International Association of Leprologists

  • 1990 – Chief, Pathology Research Department, National Hansen’s Disease Centre (since May 1981)

  • “I was born in Kanyakumari District in the southernmost part of India on November 2, 1923. I am the youngest of 11 children. My father was a physician working for the Government of Travencore State, then ruled by a Maharaja. My mother belonged to a devout Christian family and was a softly-spoken, and a loving housewife dedicated to her family and the service of the poor, who were always seen around our house. I come from a deeply religious background with a strong emphasis on service to the needy.

    I very much wanted to become a physician like my father. But at that time there was no medical college in Travencore State and only four seats were reserved for them in the Medical College in Madras. So I had to wait until men students were admitted at the Christian Medical College at Vellore. In the meantime, I taught science to high school students and also spent a year studying law.

    I preferred to work in a mission hospital and also wanted to specialize in a subject which was least popular among the medical profession. My father who had retired from service found it difficult to fully finance my medical education. So I accepted a scholarship from the Leprosy Mission. This decision ultimately turned out to be an important and perhaps one of the best decisions in my life. So when I qualified, I had already committed myself as a medical student to work for leprosy patients. Dr R G Cochrane was the principal and Dr P W Brand was the professor of surgery in the medical college. These two eminent, internationally known leprologists greatly enhanced the image of leprosy work among medical students.

    The Scheiffelin Leprosy Research Centre opened in 1955. The Leprosy Mission International wanted to staff the institution with well-trained medical staff. I and Ernest Fritschi were among the few to be chosen for this purpose. I took up pathology. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have chosen a subject which has a broad base in research, and I am grateful to Professor Gault who helped me in this decisions.

    I joined the Scheiffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre as a pathologist in 1958. I had to e the physician and the superintendent of the hospital because at that time qualified doctors to work in leprosy institutions were few and hard to find. In 1961, when the Swedish Red Cross offered a grant to start the leprosy control programme in Gudiyatham Taluk, I became the epidemiologist also. Although I was designated as a pathologist, I continued to treat leprosy patients who requested my services, until I left Karigiri in 1981.

    ….When I started leprosy work in 1954, there were only a small number of well-qualified and well-trained Indians doing full-time leprosy work. Well equipped institutions, engaged in leprosy work were few. Now the field has many intelligent, hardworking and committed doctors and scientists. There are many excellent laboratories and hospitals devoted to leprosy research. Further, the conditions of service and the recognition given to leprosy workers have improved tremendously during the years. It is good to feel that I too had a part to play in shaping this growing purpose.

    In my scientific work, I have been interested in the transmission of leprosy and the pathogenesis of nerve damage. It is gratifying to know that we have conclusively shown, using animal experiments, that M leprae is conveyed through the nasal muscosa and abraded skin. We have studied thoroughly the pathogenesis of nerve damage using light and electron microscope techniques. We have yet to develop an animal model to study the reactive phase inleprosy, when much of the nerve damage becomes evident. There is so much more to study and understand in leprosy. I am grateful that I have this privilege to work from 1981 as Research Pathologist in the Gillis W Long Hansen’s Disease Centre at Carville, LA USA, with all its excellent research facilities.

    When I started leprosy work, the drug dapsone was just being extensively used in India. We had found a drug at last to cure leprosy. Hopes were very high, and leprosy workers talked about control and eradication of leprosy in ten years. There was so much enthusiasm and hope among leprosy workers and patients. Over thirty years have gone by. Although we have not controlled leprosy, we have had the satisfaction of treating and curing thousands of leprosy patients.

    I was on the staff of the Leprosy Mission from 1954 to 1981 and held various positions in the Leprosy Centre at Karigiri. I was the medical consultant for India of the Leprosy Mission International for several years, until I left their services in 1981. … The National leprosy Eradication programme of the government of India in collaboration with many private organizations doing leprosy work is well conceived and could usher in a great change in the control of leprosy in our country.

    Research Institute(s) associated with:
    Christian Medical College and Hospital, Vellore, Vellore, Madras, India (currently Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India)
    Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre, (currently Tamil Nadu, India)


    K V Desikan and C K Job, “A Review of Postmortem Findings in Thirty Seven Cases of Leprosy”, IJL 36 (1968): 31-44.

    Mycobacterium Leprae in Nerve Lesions in Lepromatous Leprosy: An Electron Microscope Study” Arch Path 89 (1970): 195-207.

    C K Job,A Nayar, and J S Narayanan, “Electron Microscope Study of Hypopigmented Lesions in Leprosy: A Preliminary Report”,Brit J Derm 87 (1972): 200-212.

    C K Job, W F Kirchheimer, R M Sanchez, “Tissue Response to lepromin an Index of Susceptibility of the Armadillo to M leprae: A Preliminary Report”, 50 (1982): 488-493.

     C K Job, A J Selvapandian and P V Kurian, Leprosy: Diagnosis and Management, New Delhi: Hind Kusht Nivaran Sangh, 1975.

     “Pathology of Leprosy” and “Differential Diagnosis of Leprosy” in R H Thangaray,Textbook on Leprosy for Paramedical Workers, 1976.


    Karigiri (later Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre)   Dr C K Job was superintendent for four years, from 1959-1963, and again from 1964-1967. By 1959, the hospital was well established. Research and rehabilitation too wasprogressing smoothly. Many trainees came from all over the world for surgical and physiotherapy training. … There was a need for epidemiological work in leprosy. Recognizing the area of need, Dr Job took up the challenge of initiating a survey, education, and treatment programme in the control area. He worked out the methodology, and along with Dr Wardekar and Dr Desikan, organised activities in the pattern of the Government Leprosy Contol Programme.

    from A Place of Hope and Healing: The Karigiri Story Usha Jesudasan

    In 1962, with the help of the Swedish Red Cross, he masterminded the leprosy control programme. Apart from being a brilliant and meticulous patholgist, he was also an able and forthright administrator. In his first tenure as superintendent, the guest house, workshop, rubber mill, and weaving blockwere bult. During his second tenure, the chapel and few more staff quarters were built.

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