Mary Eapen Ollapally is the single abiding link binding generations of Johnnites. More than any other individual’s, her name immediately evokes memories of their St. John’s days. She is the history of St. John’s Medical College.
Simply Mary to the Johnnites of the 1970s, Dr. Mary to their successors, and the DEAN now. She was born on the 12th of December 1945. Having received her early education in East Africa, she joined the very first batch of St. John’s in 1963.
There could not have been a more exemplary career than hers for subsequent generations of Johnnites to emulate. She obtained the first rank in her very first university exam – the Pre-professional exam as it then existed. She went on to win the University Gold Medal in the Ist MBBS exams too, and rounded off her student career with the Pope Paul Prize & Medal for being the best outgoing student of the batch. On the way she has also secured the Maj. Gen. S.L.Bhatia Gold Medal and the Fred Saldhana Prize.
She qualified as an anaesthesiologist, obtaining her D.A & her M.D in due course. She joined the Anaesthesiology department as Registrar at St. Martha’s Hospital in March 1971. In 1972, she was elevated to Lecturer, in 1975 to Assistant professor, in 1978 to Associate Professor and in 1984 to full Professor. She assumed the mantle of the Head of the department in 1985.
She was earmarked for greater responsibilities, and served as Additional Vice-principal & Vice-principal before taking charge as Principal in 1995. She became the Dean in 2000, when the post was restored.
Her tenure has been marked by several important initiatives. She conceptualised the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. John’s, and helped set it up. Recognising the importance of Pain & Palliative care in today’s medical practice, she attended a W.H.O. sponsored workshop on Pain & Palliative care, and returned to help set up a Pain & Palliative care Clinic at St. John’s Medical College hospital. At St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, she is a member of the Governing Board, Governing Council and the Board of Administration. In addition, she has been looking after the administration of the Hospital from March 2001.
When the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences was formed, she was called upon to sit in on meetings at which several important decisions were taken. She is a member of its Senate, its Finance committee and its Academic council. She has served on a consortium of Medical Colleges that worked to develop the medical education curriculum. She is also a Professor of International Health at the University of Minnesota.
She is a life member of the Indian society of Anaesthesiology and the Pain & Palliative Care Society.
She married Mathew Ollapally, a physician on the 7th September 1977. She has three children. Anitha, aged 21 is doing her Masters in Psychology. Ashwin, aged 18, is doing his graduate studies in Computer science, Electronics & Mathematics. Anjali, aged 15, is finishing High school. They have grown in stature under the able guidance of their mother after Mathew’s passing away on 21st June 1987.