Dr C K Job was one of the world’s most eminent leprologists and a former President of The Leprosy Mission International (1999-2004). The son of a physician, he was the youngest of 11 children born into a devout Christian family in Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu state, India. It was in the context of Dr Job’s deeply religious background that he chose to dedicate his life to the service of those who were less well-off.
In 1953, Dr Job graduated from the Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, where he decided that he wanted to work in a mission hospital and specialise in leprosy, the least popular subject in the medical profession. Dr Job’s father, who was retired, could not fully finance his medical education so he accepted a scholarship from The Leprosy Mission (TLM).
In 1959, Dr Job became Superintendent of Schieffelin Leprosy Research and Training Centre, Karigiri, India, where he was also Consultant Pathologist. In addition to this, Dr Job lectured in Pathology at CMC, Vellore. He later became Head of the Department of Pathology, Medical Superintendent and Principal there. Dr Job was on the staff of TLM from 1954 and went on to become the TLMI Medical Consultant for India as well as President of TLMI.
Dr Job was in many ways a pioneer, instituting the first Survey Education and Treatment (SET) work through TLM. This enabled patients from villages across India to receive treatment for leprosy and was adopted by the central and state governments. In 1963 at CMC, Vellore, Dr Job was the first scientist to use the electron microscope in medical research in India.
It was in the area of leprosy research that Dr Job also excelled. He published over 300 papers on leprosy in national and international journals, ranking him as the world’s number one researcher in terms of published leprosy literature. He was a fellow of a number of prestigious institutions, including the Royal College of Pathologists in London (1973). In 1981, Dr Job became Chief of the Pathology Research Department of the National Hansen’s Disease Center at Carville, Louisiana, USA, a position he held for ten years.
Dr Job’s lifelong dedication to the service of people affected by leprosy and to the field of leprosy research was recognised when he was awarded the prestigious Damien-Dutton Award in 1993, which is given to those who do outstanding work in leprosy. Bill Clinton, who was then US President, wrote to congratulate Dr Job on his achievements. In 2009, Dr Job received a Life Time Achievement Award from the Indian Association of Leprologists, of which he had formerly been president (1972-1973). Dr Job was also the Honorary Physician (Pathologist) to the President of India from 1981.
Dr Job continued to be the Scientist Emeritus at Karigiri and at St Thomas Leprosy Centre and Hospital at Chettupattu, Tamil Nadu, up until his death at the age of 89 at his home in Vellore, India on 26 May 2012.
TLMI Communications Officer