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P K Sukumaran Papers

Identifier: MS-029

Content Description

This collection broadly covers P K Sukumaran’s study and research work in the field of Haematology and Blood Diseases from the early 1960s while he was training in London under the reputed biochemist Hermann Lehmann. It includes material till the late 1980s when he was appointed as a specialist in haemoglobinopathies at the Wadia Hospital and Research Institute in India.

Sukumaran’s papers have been generously donated to the Archives at NCBS by his niece Krishnaja A P, who is a cytogeneticist and a former scientist at Babha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai whose papers have also been archived. The collection has been sorted into 2 series and 8 sub-series.

Series 1: Research

Sub-Series 1: Correspondence

Sub-Series 2: Research Notes

Sub-Series 3: Research Data

Sub-Series 4: NEBUTA Fellowship

Sub-Series 5: Meetings and Symposia

Sub-Series 6: Photographs and Slides

Sub-Series 7: Published Work

Sub-Series 8: Research Reprints

Series 2: Ephemera

Series 1: Research This series covers research work that Sukumaran was engaged in between the 1960s to 1990s. This is broadly covered through eight sub-series: correspondence, research notes, research data, NEBUTA fellowship, meetings and symposia, photographs and slides, published work, and research reprints. The sub-series has been arranged considering original order and the arrangement structure is aimed at capturing Sukumaran’s process. Sub-Series 1: Correspondence (2 March 1962 - 10 September 1987) Consists of letters exchanged between fellow researchers, collaborators, doctors, and institutes requesting advice for a certain diagnosis, blood samples, or reprints for reference. This sub-series has been arranged chronologically. Sub-Series 2: Research notes (Undated) Contains two diaries with excerpted notes by Sukumaran, lab notes by a student named K Madian, and research data intended for N Veeraraghavan, the former director of Pasteur Institute, Coonoor. The diaries also contain photographs, receipts from travel, collectibles, and lab data. This sub-series has been arranged alphabetically. Sub-Series 3: Research data (1965 - 1971) Contains two folders of electrophoresis patterns, one sent from the Indian Council of Medical Research and the other collected through research and diagnosis. This sub-series has been arranged alphabetically. Sub-Series 4: NEBUTA fellowship (15 July 1963 - 28 July 1964) Primarily contains letters, invitations, and receipts from the Netherlands between 1963 - 1964 while Sukumaran was on the NEBUTA fellowship. This sub-series is arranged alphabetically. Sub-Series 5: Meetings and Symposia (5 January 1968 - 8 August 1988) Contains invitations for lectures at various medical institutes and meeting minutes from Cancer Research Institute, Bombay. This sub-series has been arranged alphabetically. Sub-Series 6: Photographs and slides (Undated) Contains photos taken of Sukumaran at meetings and conferences and photos of his collaborators. Also includes 545 slides across various categories such as microscopic images, human subjects and patients, thalassaemia data, and infographics from publications. This sub-series has been arranged alphabetically. Sub-Series 7: Published work (1954 - 1990) Contains 41 published articles written or co-authored by Sukumaran. This sub-series has been arranged alphabetically. Sub-Series 8: Research reprints (Undated) Contains articles, annual report, educational material, and a book received or collected by Sukumaran related to Haematology and blood disorders. This sub-series has been arranged alphabetically.

Series 2: Ephemera Sub-Series 0: This series consists of Sukumaran’s personal notes and collectibles. It includes a copy of Sukumaran’s CV and that of a fellow haematologist John H Crookston. Also included are a portrait of Sukumaran, a poster in Dutch, a newsletter clipping featuring Sukumaran, notes on early life and career, and an article in his memory by his niece Krishnaja A P, a cytogeneticist. This series has been arranged alphabetically.


  • Creation: 1954 - 1990

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for access unless mentioned in specific folders of the finding aid.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital material from the Archives at NCBS are made available online for non-commercial research purposes. Permission for reproduction or distribution must be obtained in writing from the Archives at NCBS ( The Archives at NCBS makes no representation that it is the copyright owner in all of its collections. The user must obtain all necessary rights and clearances before use of the material.

Biographical / Historical

Pathiyan Kavungal Sukumaran, known to his peers as “Suku”, was a leading scientist and reference point to many in the field of haematology. He left his hometown at the age of 16 for Coonoor with a Class 10 certificate and pursued odd jobs till he joined the Pasteur Institute in 1939 as a lab assistant. At the institute he began working in clinical laboratories and obtained training in the fields of haematology, bacteriology, serology, and clinical biochemistry.

In 1947, Sukumaran was deputed to be trained in clinical biochemistry and blood group serology at Madras Medical College, following which he joined the Indian Cancer Research Centre, later renamed the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), as a Senior Laboratory Technician in 1952. The previous year, he had been introduced to Herman Lehmann, who studied the chemistry of blood and haemoglobin varieties, and who was working with Marie Cutbush Crookston, who specialised in blood transfusion research. Together, they studied blood abnormalities in Indian tribal communities residing in the Nilgiri area, particularly the Badagas and Todas. Sukumaran was promoted as a Senior Research Assistant at the Human Variation Department in June 1957. Five years later, he travelled to London to receive training under Hermann Lehmann. This also gave him the opportunity to study peptide mapping and amino acid sequencing on abnormal haemoglobins at the University of Groningen on the Netherlands Bureau for International Technical Assistance (NEBUTA) fellowship.

After returning to India, Sukumaran was promoted as a scientific officer at CRI in the Epidemiology division, and in the 1970s became head of the division. He is credited for undertaking pioneering work on the identification of the majority of haemoglobin variants and thalassaemias in the sub-continent, managing with the limited resources and facilities available at the time. Sukumaran is also credited with identifying sickle cell anaemia in Western India, and for establishing that the “sickling” of red blood cells was common among Indian tribal populations. Besides having more than 80 papers to his name, many published nationally and internationally, he was also an active journal editor and on multiple occasions served as a Scientific Advisor to the World Health Organization. After retirement, he joined Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children in Mumbai as a specialist in Haemoglobinopathies and passed away in 1990. At the time of his death, he was engaged in a program aiming at the control of thalassaemia in Mumbai through heterozygote detection, genetic counseling, and the setting up of prenatal diagnosis.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 Hollinger-style archival boxes + 3 oversize items)

Language of Materials



The intellectual arrangement strives to preserve provenance and original order of the papers. Where an original order could not be found, the Archives has applied an order, and folders within sub-series are arranged usually in chronological or alphabetical order. See Scope and Content section for details.

Physical Location

Archives at NCBS

P K Sukumaran Papers
Dhatri S
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives at NCBS Repository

National Centre for Biological Sciences - Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Bangalore Karnataka 560065 India
+9180 6717 6010
+9180 6717 6011