Tribute to rheumatology great after tragic death

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Professor Debashish Danda, immediate past president of APLAR was killed in a car accident on the weekend.

The global rheumatology community is mourning the tragic death of Professor Debashish Danda, immediate past president of APLAR, in a car accident on the weekend.

According to Indian media reports, the celebrated rheumatologist was a passenger in a car that was involved in the accident on 24 February, on the outskirts of Vellore, a city located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India.

In a letter to members of the Australian Rheumatology Association this week, president Dr Claire Barrett paid tribute to Professor Danda, saying he left “a legacy of kindness, innovation, and inspiration”.

“Professor Danda was a monumental figure in the field of rheumatology in the Asia-Pacific region,” she wrote.

“He undertook his advanced training in rheumatology in the early 2000s in Adelaide and retained close links with the Australian rheumatology community throughout his life.”

Dr Barrett said Professor Danda had a “stellar career”, including establishing the department of clinical immunology and rheumatology at the Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital in Vellore, and service as president of the Indian Rheumatology Association and APLAR.

He was also editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases for two terms between 2012 and 2018. During that time, he was credited as being instrumental in bringing up the journal’s impact factor from 0.7 to 2.5.

Professor Danda has more than 255 peer-reviewed publications and been honoured with a raft of awards, most recently in 2023 when he received the Distinguished International Rheumatology Professional Award from the American College of Rheumatology.

“He was one of the world’s leading experts on Takayasu arteritis,” wrote Dr Barrett.

“His dedication illuminated the paths of everyone fortunate enough to have known him, leaving an indelible mark on their lives.

“He was much loved by all who knew him. His loss is deeply felt within our community, and his absence will be a void that cannot easily be filled.”

Professor Danda, 60, is survived by his wife, Dr Sumita Danda, head of the clinical genetics department at CMC, and their son Asheerwad Danda.

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