Padma-Winning Pune Man Becomes 1st Indian to Get ‘Doctor of Humane Letters’ Degree!

For his extraordinary work in manufacturing and distributing vaccinations, Cyrus Poonawalla is known as one of the 'seven vaccine heroes of the world.'

The University of Massachusetts recently awarded Cyrus Poonawalla, the business tycoon from Pune an honorary degree. A big name in the medical industry, Poonawalla became the first Indian to be conferred the ‘Doctor of Humane Letters’ by the academic institution for his outstanding work in the field of vaccination.

Here are seven things you must know about the Pune businessman.

1. He is the chairman of the Poonawalla group, and the Serum Institute of India and the Indian Biotech Company (manufacturers of paediatric vaccines) come under the Poonawalla group umbrella.

For his extraordinary work in manufacturing and distributing vaccinations, Poonawalla is known as one of the ‘seven vaccine heroes of the world.’


2. According to Pharmabiz, “Spearheading the vaccination movement in India for the past 50 years, Dr Poonawalla and Serum Institute of India have been successful in immunizing more than 20 million underprivileged children.”

3. In a speech after being conferred the degree, Poonawalla said, “Ever since the Serum Institute was established, our primary goal has been to make life-saving vaccinations available at the most affordable costs to the masses.” The list of vaccines supplied by the Serum Institute of India includes vaccines for Diptheria, H1N1 (Swine flu), measles, anti-rabies, Hepatitis, Tetanus etc.

So, some of the most common diseases, as well as the uncommon ones are treated with the help of vaccinations manufactured by Poonawalla’s institutes.

Representative image. Source.

4. The institute, in collaboration with the US-based MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has co-developed a fast-acting anti-rabies agent called the Rabies Human Monoclonal Antibody (RMAb).

You may also like: AIIMS Doctors To Visit Old-Age Homes For Free Cancer Check-Ups & Vaccinations!

5. The Serum Institute is the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world, in accordance to the number of vaccines produced and sold. Accredited with the World Health Organisation, the institute sells vaccines in about 170 countries.

6. Poonawalla was awarded the Padma Shri award in 2005 for his work in medicine. In the same year, the then Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh awarded him the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award.’

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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