IASNM’s Chai with Scintillating Stars: Webcast Series #2 (Dr Baljinder Singh)

Welcome to yet another scintillating episode. Today, we have Dr. Baljinder Singh as our honored guest. Our dynamic Vice President, Ms. Chitra Saxena, backed by IASNM executive members Dr. Ishani Dalal and Dr. Deepak Behera welcomed Dr. Singh with short introduction of his long list of accomplishments. He is currently Professor of Department of Nuclear Medicine, PGI, Chandigarh; President of SNM, India; Senate member of Punjab University; Chairman of bio-safety committee; International Chair for Indo-UK radiation safety and security in healthcare; Former Dean of Indian College of Nuclear Medicine; just to name a few. When asked about his fascinating and successful journey, Dr. Singh replied that his journey started with education in Biophysics in University of Punjab at Chandigarh, India. He joined Nuclear Medicine department, PGI, Chandigarh as a Senior Demonstrator where he spent 27 long years of sincerity and passion.

His hard work got him into multiple national and international research collaborations, which he modestly called as ‘Sheer good luck!’ Ms. Saxena continued asking if he were to go back in time, what he would do differently. To this Dr. Singh stated, “All my job titles are very challenging and very satisfying.” He went on addressing a very important issue of worldwide shortage of Molybdenum. “India is making efforts for production of Molybdenum through alternative cost effective methods. IIT Mumbai is given the task for development of this technology”. Explaining the nuances of producing molybdenum from LINAC, he said he is an important member of the supervising committee to take up this challenging work of ‘India being self-sufficient in production of alternate ways of Molybdenum.’

Going back into his initial forming days Dr. Singh recalled “Coming from the farming background, and reaching the pinnacle of success, I do not think that re-take of my journey to be better than the current journey.” Indulging further he clarifies that his mission is to increase the number of PET scanners per million population of India in the next 10 years, and also make India self-sufficient to make medical isotopes which are currently imported.

Dr. Ishani praising the great work and service of Dr. Singh asked about his mentor in life. He said, “You always have different role models at different stages of life.’ He continued, “It was very fascinating to hear lectures for IASNM colleagues in the forming years of Nuclear Medicine in India. They were my role models.” He also mentioned “Professor Virzec, Director of Nuclear Medicine, during my UICC fellowship in Germany, was my teacher and mentor “. He named Dr. Richard Baum and Michael Graham as his role models too. And nevertheless, “My wife is a very important person in my life as a mentor and always a great friend.” He courteously quoted these lines, “मालूम है कुछ मोल नही है मेरा, कुछ अनमोल लोगौं से रिशते रखता हूँ!” (meaning: I know that I have no value, but I keep in contact with some invaluable people!).

Moving to the next level, Ms. Saxena asked him to elaborate on his role where he was nominated by ICPO. He went on passionately talking about ICPO,”Dr. Richard Baum always said that the survival of Nuclear Medicine specialty lies in ‘Theranostics’ and we have to get used to precision oncology.” As ICPO mission is to propagate precision oncology in various countries and educate various Centers of Excellence, he serves as an important member of this international committee. Ms. Saxena asked the grueling question about Dr. Singh’s thought on his leadership in crisis during this unprecedented times as a president of SNM, India. “There is a lot of pressure!” he said recollecting the trying times in making of the very first virtual national meeting, “From deciding to hybrid meeting, organizing the speakers, to making it a great success… I consider myself as Covid-effective President.”

Finally, Dr. Ishani asked the closing question about Dr. Singh’s message to the younger generation who are embarking their journey or are in their mid-career. He said “Nuclear Medicine specialty is competing with Radiology and we have bright and intelligent students taking Nuclear Medicine. My take home message is that we have bright students and newer tracers coming into clinical use, we need to modify course curriculum and teaching modules.” He made his dedication very evident in shaping future of Nuclear Medicine professionals. Ms. Saxena concluded the virtual ‘Chai’ session to which Dr. Singh humored ‘Have ‘Chai’ on our own!’


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