Release Date: October 3, 2005
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The family of the late Om Parkash Bahl, a distinguished University at Buffalo professor whose scientific research led to the development of the home pregnancy test, is remembering him by raising money for a new endowed professorship in the UB College of Arts and Sciences.
They have set a $1 million goal for the Om P. Bahl Professorship in Biological Sciences. Family members have given a generous gift to start the process, while also encouraging former students, colleagues and friends to join them in the effort. Bahl died in December 2004.
"We can think of no better way to honor my father than by creating a professorship in his name," said Vinita Bahl, his daughter. "A scientist at heart, my father could have chosen to work only in a corporate lab, but he was happiest when sharing his knowledge and insights with others -- his colleagues, his students, his friends."
The endowed professorship will continue Bahl's teaching example and further his academic work by providing the resources to attract scholars of his character and caliber in the field of biological sciences. The monies will support the selected scholar in his or her research initiatives.
"We were fortunate to have had such a strong leader in biological sciences at UB for so many years," said Uday P. Sukhatme, dean of UB's College of Arts and Sciences. "And now we are grateful to Dr. Bahl's family and friends for continuing that wonderful legacy through an endowed professorship that will attract others equally strong in teaching, mentoring and research."
In May, well-known scientists in the field of reproductive biochemistry and glycoprotein hormones honored Bahl at a conference in his name held at UB.
Bahl, whose research helped establish the molecular structure of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) -- better known as the pregnancy hormone -- in the early 1970s, had been looking for a safer means of contraception while focusing on the relationship between cancer and the abnormal production of the pregnancy hormone.
Born in Lyallpur, India, in 1927, Bahl earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Lahore Government College and Punjab University, ranking first in his classes. He received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota. While pursuing his doctorate, he also worked as a research associate at General Mills, receiving a patent for a chemical technique that strengthened the paper in grocery bags. After receiving his degree, he turned down a position at General Mills as a research scientist, preferring instead to continue his academic studies in biochemistry and molecular biology at UCLA.
Bahl joined UB in 1966 as assistant professor, rising to full professor in 1971 and serving as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 1976-83. He received many awards and honors throughout his career, including the Dernham Fellowship of the American Cancer Society in 1965, the Schoellkopf Medal from the Western New York section of the American Chemical Society in 1978 and the Life Science Award from the second Annual Convention of Asian Indian Organizations in North America.
For his scientific achievement, Bahl received the Padma Bhushan, the highest civilian award conferred by the Indian government. He also served on a committee investigating technology transfer for Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that helped establish capabilities in India to conduct first-rate research in the biological sciences and apply this research to address some of India's most pressing needs.
Bahl wrote several textbooks, supervised doctoral students and mentored post-doctoral students, instilling an enthusiasm for science in those he taught and mentored. He served on a variety of editorial boards as well as advisor to the Population Council, the World Health Organization and the Population Research Committee of the National Institutes of Health.
A believer in family and social causes, Bahl was involved in the Indian Independence movement and was founding president of All-India Student Association, now one of the largest student groups in India, before emigrating to the U.S.
On Nov. 21, family members and friends will gather in New Delhi at a final memorial service for Bahl.
For more information on giving to the Om. P. Bahl Professorship in Biological Sciences Fund, please contact Deborah McKinzie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-645-6000, ext. 1503.