A tribute to the life, work, and memories of Dr Srabani Mittal
Dr Srabani Mittal, a brilliant, humane, pragmatic, kind, and highly committed professional in cancer prevention and control, was particularly distinguished by her passion for and commitment to cancer screening, particularly cervical cancer in India and other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Having trained as a medical doctor in Kolkata, Srabani turned her professional focus towards cancer control after the loss of her father to rectal cancer. Her incomparable drive to excel led her to specialize further in public health and eventually to receive her PhD in Clinical Oncology in 2018. She dedicated her entire professional career to cancer control in general and cervical cancer screening in particular.
Srabani started her work in cancer control in 1994 when she joined one of the premier cancer hospitals in India, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) in Kolkata, as a Registrar in the Department of Gynaecological Oncology. At CNCI, she developed a keen interest in cervical cancer screening and led the pioneering International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) project on the evaluation of affordable, low-technology cervical cancer screening techniques and treatment methods for cervical cancer prevention. The findings from this study were a game-changer and led to paradigm shifts in cervical cancer prevention in LMICs. Eventually, Srabani became a senior consultant in preventive oncology at CNCI and led several large studies in cervical cancer screening and prevention.
Srabani was a certified trainer for the International Federation of Cervical Pathology and Colposcopy (IFCPC)-IARC training course on Colposcopy and Management of Cervical Precancers, in India. For more than 18 years, she was involved in the training of various categories of health professionals in several LMICs across the globe. She was a senior consultant to the governments of India, West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Nepal, the Cancer Foundation of India, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She was a researcher par excellence in cancer control research and collaborated with several national and international researchers. Srabani was the author of 29 research publications in highly acclaimed peer-reviewed national and international journals and also had three training manuals and three book chapters to her credit.
Srabani was the IARC/WHO consultant for the multicentre phase II/III clinical trial of the Serum Institute of India quadrivalent HPV vaccine from November 2018 until her untimely death on 10 August 2019. Srabani left behind her only son, Rohan. She will be fondly remembered as a charming person and an inspiring leader with an infectious smile who was strongly committed to her duties. She always addressed her patients with a smile and politeness, which were her inherent qualities, apart from her skilled knowledge. Srabani never compromised on her role as a caring daughter, sister, and mother, a caring doctor, and an outstanding researcher. She will be sorely missed forever by all who knew her.
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| Dr Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan|
Senior Visiting Scientist, International Agency for Research on Cancer