...home of the St. Johns Medical College Community

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Articles


Some Old News That still rings true

E-mail Print PDF

Bangalore's St Johns Medical College (SJMC) works on the doctrine that doctors should be social workers first and medical practitioners second. The college admission procedure, education system and placements revolve around this motive.

The aim of the college is to train health care professionals who are willing to work in medically under-served areas, says Dr Kamath Kalam, director, SJMC. All students who enrol for the MBBS programme at the college have to sign a bond, binding them to work in an under-developed place  designated by the college for two years.

Honouring the bond

There are brownie points to be earned if the two-year bond is honoured. Students are given 15 bonus points when they appear for the postgraduate entrance exam. Tuition fee for the PG programme is waved. This means they save upto Rs six lakh, says Kalam. On the flip side, students have to cough up a steep fine if they dishonour the bond.

Fact file

Located on a sprawling 135-acre campus in the heart of Bangalore, SJMC was set up in 1963 by the Catholic Bishops of India. The hubbub of Bangalore is left way behind when you step into the SJMC campus. The college campus resembles a mini township, complete with open, green spaces, sports complex, shaded walkways and lots of peace and quiet.

The college offers an MBBS and postgraduate programmes and three super-speciality subjects. These include an MCH  the highest degree in surgery  in plastic surgery, paediatric surgery and cardiology and a doctorate in medicine.

To maintain a healthy student-teacher ratio, only 60 students are admitted for the MBBS programme every year. This way, teachers pay individual attention to students, explains Kalam.

Students get hands-on training at the 1,200-bed St Johns hospital. Infrastructure facilities at the college include all the mandatory labs and libraries. The college offers hostel facilities for all students.

The college conducts its own all-India admission test, through 13 centres across the country. Following this, 140 students are called for a marathon, week-long interview-cum-interaction session. Psychologists and youth experts evaluate the students. Students are judged on their motivation to serve people and their value system, says. The selection process ends with a health check-up.

Sporting spirit

The college boasts of one of the best-equipped sports complexes in the city. SJMC students are routinely selected for the university and state level hockey, basketball and volleyball teams, claims Kalam. Getting admission to SJMC which was ranked the seventh best medical college by India Today last year is a long-drawn affair.


Placement is not a focus area at SJMC. We concentrate on placing medical professionals in rural areas. High-profile placements are not our priority, says Kalam.

Old memories
Dr Anura Vishwanath Kurpad, Dean, St John’s Research Institute, remembers his alma mater

I joined St John’s Medical College in 1977 to do an MBBS, and I liked the college so much that I went on to do my MD and PhD from there. There is an all-India feel to the college which I enjoyed. Second, SJMC has a committed faculty. The student-teacher ratio is low, which means there was a healthy interaction between the two. We had a very intimate learning experience at SJMC. I also liked the campus atmosphere of the college.

This is one of the country’s few private medical colleges to have a sprawling campus and also a hospital attached to it. The SJMC campus had playgrounds and lot of open spaces. The strong focus on extra-curricular activities required us to do many more things other than remain buried in books.


Alumni Research Initiative

E-mail Print PDF


The St. Johns Alumni Research Contributions

Several initiatives to support research at St. Johns have been conducted by alumni. It is worth remembering the contributions of Dr. Salim Yusuf over the years. Dr. Salim Yusuf was instrumental in setting up the St. Johns Research Institute (SJRI). He has initiated and supported the Clinical Trials Group and large scale epidemiological studies done at SJRI with an endowment of CAN$500,000 (INR 1,51,00,000). The results of this support have been training of junior faculty, successful applications for grant funding, and research publications in peer reviewed journals of high impact.

The Alumni Research Initiative (ARI) is a collective effort of St. Johns alumni worldwide established in 2006. The first ARI 2007 commenced in July 2007 and has funded 3 faculty candidates and one post graduate student. The initiative executes its mandate through a steering committee which is chaired by the Dean, Dr. Prem Pais in his role as patron of the alumni association. The other members of the steering committee include the dean of the research institute, academic secretary of the St. Johns alumni associations, secretary of the St. Johns research society and Dr. Arun Shet, the coordinator. The initiative makes annual requests for research applications in April of each year from medical students, post graduates and junior faculty (up to the level of associate professor). Applications are requested annually and are reviewed by a scientific committee designated by the steering committee. Two successful awards are made annually in each of the three categories if the applications fulfill the mandate of the ARI.

More recently, Dr. Anthony Kalliath has planned a $100,000 endowment which will raise $2500 annually through interest which will go toward supporting hematology research. This endowment will be managed by Friends of St. Johns and Dr. Kalliath who will eventually determine the scope, goal, and administration of this award.

The St. Johns Alumni Research Initiative


The Alumni Research Initiative is the collective effort of St. Johns alumni. The initiative started when a few alumni wondered if they could do more for St. Johns in a way that fulfilled the needs of St. Johns. Two ideas were proposed in Dec 2005. Dr. Venkat Narayan proposed the idea of a school of Public Health and Dr. Arun Shet proposed the idea of an intramural grant network to stimulate research. The conceptualization and fund raising took place on the internet with Dr. Venkat Narayan as the main spearhead. Dr. Ivan Chou led the way with an initial pledge of $1000 which was followed by Dr. Venkat Narayan and several donors pledged funds with ultimately 20 alumni of the many that pledged contributing $1000 each. Subsequently an additional amount of $5000 was allocated to this corpus from the 2006 Golf outing fundraiser by Dr. Marian Kamath. A collective decision to start a corpus for an intramural grant network at St. Johns called the Alumni Research Initiative was made in discussion with the management of St. Johns National Academy of Health Sciences and Dr. Venkat Narayan drafted the first proposal for the initiative. The decision to use these funds for the research initiative was authorized by the board of the trustees of Friends of St. Johns, a tax exempt non profit organization in the US through which raises funds for the CBCI society for medical education. The executive committee of the NA chapter headed by Dr. Deepak Edward approved the proposal during their September 2006 meeting. In March 2007, the total amount of $25,000 was disbursed to the CBCI society for medical education to execute this initiative. The first alumni research initiative 2007 commenced on April 4rth 2007 and has funded 3 faculty candidates and one post graduate student.


The overall goal of the initiative is to fund hypothesis driven research that has impact on socially relevant health conditions in India. It is eventually hoped that clinical faculty at St. Johns will obtain grant writing skills, start developing and testing hypotheses, and generate preliminary data that will eventually lead to future grant applications to national funding agencies.


The initiative executes its mandate through a steering committee which is chaired by the Dean, Dr. Prem Pais in his role as patron of the alumni association. The other members of the steering committee include the dean of the research institute, academic secretary of the St. Johns alumni associations, secretary of the St. Johns research society and Dr. Arun Shet, the coordinator. The initiative makes annual requests for research applications in April of each year from medical students, post graduates and junior faculty (up to the level of associate professor). Applications are requested annually and are reviewed by a scientific committee designated by the steering committee. Two successful awards are made annually in each of the three categories.

Current status

Support for this initiative:

The initiative continues to raise funds though alumni worldwide. Recently, one alumnus has announced annual funding of $1000 for this initiative over the individuals life time. Alumni in India, Canada, Middle East and the UK have also been generous in their support of this initiative. For a complete list of donors who have supported this initiative please contact Dr. Ragavendra Baliga This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Long term sustainability:

The current decision of the steering committee is that they will be disbursed funds annually till such time that the corpus is completely utilized. Alternatively, it is hoped that alumni will continue to contribute generously to this initiative so that it raises an endowment that can generate an interest amount that can support funds for annual awards. At current exchange rates, this will require an endowment equivalent to $150,000 that will generate an annual interest of ~$13050 (assuming a rate of return of 8%).

Fund raising for the corpus:

Several alumni have taken on the goal of fund raising. Dr. Ivan Chou has taken over from Dr. Venkat Narayan and makes regular email appeals for funds. Dr. Gerard Abreu and another alumini have committed to funding for a prolonged period of time. Thus, over time it is hoped that the target corpus is achieved. If you are in North America and require more information or wish to make a donation, please contact Dr. Ragavendra Baliga This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . If you are anywhere else in the world and require more information or wish to make a donation, please contact Dr. Arun Shet This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Statement of account (March 2008):

Amount in:  INR10,07,750.00
Amount out:  INR 326,190
Balance:  INR 681,560
(Excludes contributions made after the initial transfer of $25,000)

Research Society:

Several years ago, St. Johns also started a research society that raises funds from institutional overheads raised from industry sponsored trials and research projects conducted at SJNAHS. This society calls for research applications from faculty on a biannual basis and funds eligible proposals from faculty candidates. The research society secretary sits of the steering committee of the alumni research initiative.

St. Johns Alumni Research Initiative 2007

Date: June 22nd, 2007
The St. John’s alumni research initiative 2007 for the funding of research proposals from medical undergraduates, postgraduates, and faculty announces the results of the 2007 funding cycle.

Applications received:

Faculty:   14
Postgraduates  5
Medical Students  2

Applications funded:

Faculty:   3
Postgraduates  1
Medical Students  0

Successful applications:

      1. Role of modified rapid histochemical and immunohistochemistry in determining the distal level of normally innervated colon in Hirschprungs disease.

Dr. M.K. Babu (Pathology) Amount funded Rs.1.0 Lakh.

      2. Evaluation of HIV-1 polymerase technique using dried blood spots (DBS) for diagnosis of perinatal transmission of HIV.

Dr. Saraswathi (Microbiology) Amount funded Rs.2.0 Lakh.

      3. To study the effect of osmolytes on aggregation and amyloidogenesis of A? protein in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Amit K. Mandal (Molecular Medicine) Amount funded Rs.1.0 Lakh.

      4. Flow mediated dilation and carotid intima/media thickness in urban and rural adolescents belonging to different socioeconomic strata.

Dr. Srivatsa D.V. (Physiology postgraduate, Mentor Dr. Mario Vaz) Amount funded Rs. 50 thousand.

Dr. Prem Pais





1. General Information:

a) Name of Candidate:

b) Date of Birth:

c) Address: (include email and telephone contact)

d) Title:

e) Department:

f) Institution:

2. Title of the project:

3. Aims, Goals and Objectives: (max 100 words)

4. Background and Rationale: (max 200 words, excluding cited literature) 

5. Hypothesis and Specific Aims: (max 100 words)

6. Relevance of the project and impact on advancing health care: (max 50 words)

7. Preliminary Data:

8. Study Design and statistical methods: 

9. Details regarding human subjects protection and Ethics committee review

10. Budget and project time line: (Include quarterly verifiable indicators of progress)

11. Mentors name and biographical sketch: (Applicable only to student candidates; attach separate sheet)

12. Candidates biographical sketch and career plans: (attach separate document)

13. Sponsorship letter from head of department: (Applicable only to faculty candidates). Letter must indicate clearly that the head of department will ensure completion of the proposed research project in the event of premature termination of the principal investigators tenure at the institution (prior to date of expiry of research timeline).

14. Feedback for funding agency: (answer in 1 word or sentence)

a) How did you hear about this funding opportunity

b) What difficulties did you have in completing this application

c) Do you feel that you have adequate support from your mentor to compete for this project

d) Do you have adequate support from the institution to compete for this project

e) After you complete this project, will you apply for further grant support

f) What further training do you think you need to prepare applications that in your eyes will be successful (regardless of their funding success)

g) Do you think that health research is important for you to perform

h) Do you think patients believe that health research is important

i) What are the barriers that prevent you from doing research

j) Do you think that completion of this project will enable you to report your findings, publish an abstract, publish a paper

Created on 12/16/2005 5:16 PM Draft #2 2/15/2006

Draft # 3 3/30/2007

Created by Arun Shet


A Tribute to Francis Noel Fernandes MD, FACC.

E-mail Print PDF

It seems like the 23 years that have gone by since the 1977 batch joined St. John's have flown by all too quickly, but the memories remain fresh. Memories of the treasures life gives us to get to know and be a part of the lives of some wonderful and gracious people. Francis Noel Fernandes was one such person who was taken away from our midst much too quickly. As I look back on those years with the help of some precious photographs, Noel, as he was fondly known to us, will always be remembered as one who was so full of life, who was always ready to enjoy a good laugh, and who grew to be a truly sincere and dedicated physician, and a much loved son, brother, husband and friend. After all our days at St Johns, those carefree days in the Hostel, and the good training at college and the hospital, Noel had worked hard and succeeded and was soon to start a distinguished career and Practice in Cardiology in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was accepted as a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology in 1996, it was a source of great pride and a sense of fulfillment, and the next step in what would be a long and fruitful career. But fate had its own plans, and soon after that Noel was diagnosed with cancer and had a short but devastating and painful struggle, losing that battle three years ago this July.

As Saint John’s moves ahead with plans to become a Cardiac Center, it seems fitting to keep alive Noel's Dream and honor his ever-willing nature to give his best to all who needed his help. The Francis Noel Fernandes Corpus fund will be a way to help fund poor patients who need Cardiac health care at St. John's, and in doing so will keep the memory and wishes of a gentle and good hearted Saint Johnnite alive. (Donations to build up this Fund can be made out to Friends of St. John's. All friends and well-wishers of Noel Fernandes, and those who would like to promote care to the needy are encouraged to support this cause. )


A Personal Tribute to Louis Monteiro, MD

E-mail Print PDF

Dr Monteiro was the first Dean of our Medical School, and my Dean for most of my years at St. John’s for all practical purposes, the only Dean I had.
He was more than a Dean, though. He was a warm, caring father figure, who dispensed wisdom sternly. He was my first mentor, who helped me grow up from a wise-ass Bombay lad to (pardon the hubris) a compassionate physician. A person who taught me that life was not always fair, but it was a great gift to be alive. Even when I felt I did not deserve the punishment he meted out (which unruly black sheep does?), I received instruction on personal, social development.
Dr. Monteiro, though the Dean, was intimate with all of us, partly of course because the size of each batch at St. John’s is small, but primarily I think because he saw himself as an educator in the classic sense of the term. As he told me once “I want to make sure you grow up to be a good physician and, more importantly (italics mine but emphasis his), a constructive and caring human being. I want to be proud of you as one of my students in all aspects of the term.” Well, Dr. Monteiro, I hope you were.
Dr. Monteiro was a primary mentor par excellence. He combined compassion with an understanding that one needed to be cruel to be kind. He demanded discipline with humor and a keen appreciation of the need to indulge youth. He understood the nuances of nurturing all under his care, to help them through the transition from youth to mature professional. He has taught me (as he has taught countless others, I have no doubt) lessons about life – about life in all its intricate glory as well as life from the unique perspective of a physician. He has taught me the importance of balancing personal ambition with the greater good, both at the individual, patient level and the larger societal level. He took me under his wing as a boy and released me as a man; critiqued my flaws without subjecting me to ridicule, and encouraged my abilities without needlessly stroking my ego.

My, my. A perfect Dean in our imperfect world? No, not really. There were times when I thought him obtuse, too engrossed in the greater good to care for the individual – we were, or so we believed, part of an elite group, a small group culled from the hordes that appeared for the entrance examination. Did we not merit special consideration? I believe now however that he sought to put us down from our self-constructed pedestals so that we may better appreciate those less fortunate. So, not a perfect Dean, but close, close enough for the cigar.
During my medical student days there were times when I thought Dr Monteiro was an insensitive, uncaring, and needlessly stern taskmaster. Age has mellowed me, but I don’t think it is the warm glow that time casts which makes me believe that he saw the wood for the trees, and culled when and where necessary. If I can be half the man and half the mentor Dr. Monteiro was, I believe I will have done well for myself. Thank you, Dr. Monteiro. I have no doubt you rest in peace.


A Personal Tribute To Gerry Mascarenhas, MD

E-mail Print PDF

Through the noisy thoracic surgery ward at St. John’s the sentinel patient ran around announcing  ‘Appa is on his way’ and instantly the whole ward was silent with each patient sitting cross legged, head bowed in reverence.  Dr.Gerard Mascarenhas Gerry to his friends and Appa to his patients had just finished his operating schedule and had started his ward rounds with his team of surgeons. He strode in with energy despite a hectic operating schedule and started his rounds. People who worked closely with him are aware of his spontaneous generosity for indigent patients. He believed that charity had to be silent and he continued his charitable work and donations without much publicity. After a hectic morning of surgery and patient management he went to his ‘other job’ in the Dean’s office.

As Dean, Gerry was instrumental in reaching out to the state government and making ‘peace’ with the bureaucrats and politicians without yielding on the independent status St. John’s enjoyed in its admission policy. He often used a combination of his charm and his mercurial temper to persuade ‘renegade’faculty to adhere to the institution’s policy. He worked closely with the Alumni association and used several of his personal contacts to raise funds. His tremendous energy was legendary and a bunch of medical students decided that they would work and party for a week like Gerry a week in the life of Gerry Macarenhas. By the end of the second day all of them had given up having lost steam. 
At home Gerry continued to enjoy his day and often cooked the delicious appetizers and main courses himself. When he invited us home he treated even an intern like a colleague and friend he had a touch of class in whatever he did. He was proud of his children and he doted on grandchildren and he was Papa to them. Despite being very accomplished he readily acknowledged on several occasions that he would not have not been able to achieve these without his wife Marie’s support.
Gerry trained in Edinburgh and his performance in the FRCS was outstanding prompting the senior examiner to congratulate him in person. He subsequently trained with the legendary Dr. Frank Spencer in the US and was made a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He forsook the lucre of private practice to work in jobs which, he believed, would be of service to the people. He was a pioneer in cardiac surgery in India having many firsts to various cardiac surgical procedures in India. He was the Superintendent of SDS sanatorium, Professor and Head of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, Bangalore Medical College before he joined St. John’s.
When he was diagnosed to have lung cancer he met it head on and continued to live a full life for several years until the neurological complications limited these activities. Dean, Professor, cardiac surgeon, pioneer, philanthropist, Gerry, Appa, Papa and chef - these words only partially capture the spirit of Dr. Gerry Mascarenhas


Page 10 of 12