Elected Fellow 1952

INDERJSIITNGHt,thenotedmedicalscientist,wasborn atMaymoinBurma on August 20,1909. He was the second son of Sardar and Shrimati Mehr Singh and belonged to a very poor family. He received his primary educa- tion in Burma. Inderjit lost his parents at a very young age. At this juncture, his elder brother had to take over the entire responsibility of his education. He passed the matriculation examination in 1925 standing first in the province and sxuring distinction in six out of seven subjects. He passed the intermediate examination in science from Rangoon University in 1926. He was the first student in the University to be granted double promotion fromjunior to senior intermediate. His medical career at the s~lme university was marked by an excellent schloastic recor;l. He stood first in every subject and was the recepient of merit scholarship, gold medals, etc, and was declared the best student of the year. As misfortune never comes alone, his elder brother too left him after one year. As the eldest mem- ber of the family, Singh shared 4h: whole liability at such an early age. Not only this he financed the comrlete education of his younger brother, Dr Inder Singh, who recently retired as Lt General from the Army Medical Corps.

After a brilliant under-graduate career in medicine at the Medical College of Rangoon Dr IJ Singh proceeded to UK for higher education. He obtained his PhD Degree under the guidance of Professor PR Winton. He was the first Indian to he awarded WD from the University of Cambridge in 1937. Considering his merit in the researches he accomplished, he was granted exemption for one year as a special case from the three-year study of this course. His thesie was highly recommended by the board of examiners and was regarded as “a thesis notable and long remembered as being the most compendious which had come before the relevant examination committee within living memory.” This thesis contained only 38 pages. In recogni- tion of his meritorious performance he was given Burma State Scholarship

to this Non-Burmese. He was helped by Col. Macrobert Brown, his college teacher, who financed him to proceed to J40~ldonfor further studies.

Laboratory at Allahabad from Fehruary 1942 to June 1944.

Inderjit Singh

Dr Singh also acquitted himself creditably in LRCP (London) and MRCS (England), which he received in 1937.

,. .


Dr IJ Singh was at first appointed as a Demonstrator in Physiology in Medical College, Rangoon. His research work aldrmed the British autho- rities in Rangoon, and he was asked to leave the college. He then went to UK for higher education. On his return, Dr Singh joined Indian Medical Services in January 1939 and continued to work by June 1944. He was

on active overseas service from June 1940 to January 1942. He also

served the Indiarr Army as a Pathologist and was incharge of No. 6 Field

Laboratory in Eritiea. Later he was also in-charge ol the Brigade Labora-

Professor Singh joined DOW Medical College, Karachi as the Head of the Department of Physiology in June 1944 and worked there till he migrated from Pakistan to India on March 7, 1948 after the partition of the country. Since then he had spent the rest of his life in India. Professor Singh took over as Head of the Department of Physiology, SN Medical College, Agra on 10, March 1949. He was promoted to the position of the Principal of this college on 18, July 1968. On 20, April 1969, he retired from active service.

A very popular teacher, Singh was a genius in the true sense and proved himself as one of the most outstaliding researchers, dedicated worker and capable administrator. He spent most of time in the departmental laboratory and worked during nights, whenever his experiments demanded

this devotion.

During the three decades of research career, Professor Singh published over 200 papers in the Indian and foreign journals. He worked on a variety of subjects, both fundamental and applied. His most notable contribution which received international recognition are :


( A ) Life Without Breathing

Professor Singh’s most outstanding research was on ‘Life Without Breathing’. He surprised the international community of scientists, when he was capable of keeping dogs alive without breathing for 80 minutes at

Amsterdam. This he achieved with two methods. In the first method, the metabolism of the animal was lowered by hypothermia, and the reduced

oxygen requirements could be met by I/V injection of oxygen. In the second method, all the oxygen required at body temperature was injected I/V in a ‘ high pressuret at 3 Atmosphere of air pressure.


Biographical Memalri

Late Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the country, got interested in this research and gave him an interview lasting over an hou, .r. He remarked for his reasearch venture as fantastic research for mankind. During his fellowship at Melborn University he appeared before television to explain his discovery.

(B) Bio-electric Potentials in Non-ionic Solutions

It is generally believed that for normal electrical activity and generation of action potential ions, such as Na+, K+, Ca++ are necessary in external medium. Professor Huxley received Nobel Prize for this research. How- ever, Professor Singh produced such activities in the absence of all ions. This work was further confirmed by Professor Bozler in Ohio University. (Am. J. Phy. 199, 299, 1960). Professor Vander Kloot of Columbia

University, New York, published the confirmation of Professor Singh’s experiments in Nature (May 27, 1961, 786). He appreciated the work as highly remarkable, surprising and challenging. His hypothesis was also discussed in a symposium held in United States in 1965 (J.Cell Comp.

Phy. 66, 79, 1965). Three German workers confirmed the discovery of Professor Singh and wrote “We were astonish2d”. Dr Singh had the oppor- tunity of meeting Professor AF Huxley at the XXIV International Congress in New York. Professor Huxely expressed his appreciation of the work and

said that he was very much interested to know the cause.of action potential.

Aotfve Relaxation of Muscle

It is universally believed that the relaxation of muscle is a passive phenome- non and it does not require energy. Professor Singh conclusively proved that relaxation of muscle is an active phenomenon. (Am.J. Phy.) 200,

955, 1961). This discovery was also confirmed by British Physiologist, Dr Graham Hoyle, in 1965.

M~mbranePotential in Excitability

It is generally believed that changes in membrane potential cause excita- tion. Professor Singh stated that excitation can occur without any membrane potential. H e described this research a s “Revolutionary” Annual

Review of Pharmacol0gy(l964, 4, 189).

Antagon~taticAction of Vagus Nerve and Acetylcholine on the Frog’s heart

It is assumed that vagus nerve produces its effect by release of Acetyl- choline. Professor Singh showed that the effect of these two can be in oppo- site direction. (Archives Int. de Pharmaco dynie et Theraptic. 132, 317, 1961).

Inderjit Singh

5-Hydroxy-tryptaminergicTransmission in Nerve

Professor S i q h was the first to discover that 5-HT is liberated on stirnu-

letion of the nerves to the muscle. Professor Feldberg, world authority on neuro muscular transmission, appreciated his work and so did Professor Parrot in Paris and Professor RR Hill (USA) with the remark : I think people abroad find it difficult to believe that an Indian can made discoveries of such

fandamental importance, when leading western scientists have been working on them. His other researches include-tryptaminergic, histamineqic and kineergic fibres in frog’s vagus nerve. Two contractile system in unstriated muscles, the intimate nature of muscles-contraction and role of ADP in muscular contractio~?. Following is a letter from Professor W Floot (New York), which reveals the acceptance of the research work of Professor Singh

at the international level :

This summer my attention was directed for the first time to your extra ordinary studies on the physiology of smooth muscle and the retention of excitability in the sucrose solution. W e have repeated a number of your

experiments, and have, of course, found that they turned out exactly as you predicted. It seems to us that your studies are so important and have been so neglected that probably we will write a brief communication calling atten-

tion to your work and reporting ‘our confirmation of your discoveries.

In the inital stage, he was also interested in clinical research, and during the last war he worked 0’1 dysentery, malaria ant1 black water fever. He


found that hntivenena” might act as antihemolytic in black water fever.

With tilis treatment the mortality rate was reduced to nil. He also proposed that oestrogen may be responsible for migrane (Singh, 1947) which was fur- ther confirmed by Green and Dalton in 1953. He also determined the action on various ions on blood pressure and found that cholesterol, Caf+ as constricter has effect on the arterioles. He explained the high incidence of coronary attack in those who have hypercholestremia.

Professor Singh was associated with numerous societies. He was a Fellow of the National Institute of Sciences of India (now Indian National Science Academy), a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Science, and a member of their Council. He was a ~ o u n d e rFellow of Indian Academy of Medical Sciences. He had been a member of the Governing body of the ICMR for 6 years,

a member of the scientific Advisory Board for 3 years, and a member of the

He was a Fellow of the Physiological Society of Great Britain. He was also a Member of Aerd- Medical Society. Professor Sing11was frequently invited to advise and assist

the Public Service Commissions of various States, as well ab the Union

Physiology and Pharmacology Committee for 6 years.

Public Service Commission in the appointments of senior posts.

He was

Biographical Memoirs

elected as one of the member representing medical facilities of the Indian Universities on the Governing body of ICMR for a period of three years. He was Dean, Faculty of Medicine of the Agra University and a member, Medical Faculty of the Vikrarn University.

He was awarded WHO Fellowship (UNICER) in 1951. He visited UK, USA, Canada, Swit’zerland, Denmark, and Belgium between April 25, 1951

and January 6, 1952. He attended almost every international congress and chaired scientific sessions. Ile was invited to Australia and presented his work on television in 1967. He was also invited to deliver a talk at BBC by George Noordef in 1963. He was also awarded Dutch Fellowship in 1960 where he first demonstrated “Life without breathing”.

Professor Singh was married to Dr Sunita Inderjit Singh in 1940, who is also a noted medical scientist. She retired as Professor and Head of Physiology Department from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi She was re-e~nployed as such for three years in University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi.

Professor Singh encouraged her in active research work and contribution to Society. Dr Singh was a very affectionate to his three children. His sons,

Dr Amarjit Singh and Dr Kunwarjit Singh, have migrated to Canada and United States and engaged themselves as Ophthalmologist and Cardiologist respectively. His daughter, Ritu Singh, is also a doctor and has recently married to Dr Sushi1 Bhardwaj, specialized in Internal Medicine

and Oncology and employed as Assistant Professor in New York.

Professor Singh was monz sikh. I-Ie was noble and generous at heart. He was a true follower of simple living and high thinking and very religious minded. He had a great faith in astrology. His boundless energy and

tireless activity is evidenced from his efforts in the research and his publica- tions. He dedicated his entire life towards the promotion and development

of physiology. I

After his retirement Professor Singh was greatly perplexed and anxious

about his incomplete research work. Just before his death he was

preparing to leave for the University of Homberge, Germany as Guest Professor to work on the Genetic Mechanism of Action Potential. He

suffered from a severe heart attack at the age of 62 and breathed his last on June 5, 1972. At the time of his death, Dr Singh held the position of an

Emeritus Scientist of the ICMR and was actively engaged in research work. He is survived by his wife, two sons and on? daughter. His premature

death has left a void in the domain of physiology, which is difficult to fiU


Inderjit Singh

1934. Absorption of oxygen from the peritoneal cavity and the stomach. phys., 24. 45.

– –

Qr. Jr. Exp.

Sci. Ser., 30.

The inorganic constitution of the anterior retractor of the byssus of Mytilus edules. Jr. Phys. 89. 10.

1935. Raw eggs for insomnia and Neurasthenia.

– –

Indian Med. Ass., 19, 56. Certain effects of pulmonary gas-embolism. Jr. Phys., 87, 11.

Lancet., 2, 636. Oxygen injected into veins may become means of saving lives.

Life without breathing. Lancet., 1, 2.

1936. Therapeutics of bacillary dysentry.

1937 1938.


1940. –

tion in unstriated muscle. ibid, 30, 629.

1943. Excitation at the anode and cathode. Curr. Sci., 12, 53.

Excitation and accommodation in unstriated muscle. ibid, 12, 56.

The contraction of unstriated muscle produced by change cf tension. ibid, 12,


Relation between experiments on isrlated muscle and isolated strips of myosin.

Nature, 152, 1.

(With Singh S I) A rotary rock for doing thr weil felix reaction. India r med.

Gaz., 28, 40.

The effect of hydrogen ions and tonic contraction on the visocosity of unstriated

muscle. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 17, 13.

Isotonic extension of unstriated muscle. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 17, 20. Visco-elastic properties and contraction of unstriated muscle. Proc. Indian

Aead. Sci., 17, 53.

A (With Singh S I) The electrical resistance of unstriated muscles and

other tissues and its relation to p~rmeabilityand excitability. Roc. Indian Acad. Sei,, 17, 58.

Indialz J. med. Res., 30, 449.

The interaction bctween ion drugs and electrical stimulation as indicated by inhibi-

– –

– –

1he effect of cianide on the retractor of the byssus of Mytilus edules.

Factors affecting the sodium, potassium and total base content of the anterior

retractor of the byssus of Mytilus edules. ibid, 91, 398.

The effects of Ions, drugs and electrical stimulation as indicated by contraction of

the anterior retractor of the byssus of Mytilus eduler. ibid, 92, 62.

Isotonic extensi~nand shortening of the anterior retractor of the byssus of

Mytilus edules. ibid, 92, 232.

The efl’ect of adaption to electrical and chemical stimulation on the excitability

of the anterior retractor cf the byssus of Mytilus edules. ibid, 92, 241. Properties of tonic contractions produced by electrical stimulation of the anterior

retractor of the byssus cf Mytilus edules. ibid, 94, 1.

The effect of calcium and scme other factors on the excitability of the anterior retractor of byssus of M’ytilus edules. ibid, 92, 322.

The effectof stretching and of stimulation on the weight and total base and sodium concentration of the anterior retractor of the byssus of Mytilus edules. ibid,

96, 1.

A comparative study of the effect of the interaction of ions, drugs and electrical

stimulation as indicated by contraction of unstriated muscles. ibid, 96, 367. (With Sadashiv Rao M) The effect of temperature on the mechanical pressure

and viscosity and oxygen consumption of unstriated muscle. ibid, 96, 12. A comparative study of the effect of the interaction of ions, drugs and electrical

stimulation in mammalian unstriated muscle. ibid, 98, 155.

(With Shah M J) Intravenous injection of oxygen under normal atmos-

pheric pressure. Lancet I., 1.

1942. Viscoelastic properties of unstriated muscles.

ibid, 89, 8.


Frog’s unstriated muscle and its relation to tonus. *



ibid, 28, 127.


– Reversal effects ir unstriated muscle. ibid, 17, 149.

1944. (With Sehra K B and Singh S I) An electrolyte free medium for unstriated


Surface ana interior effi:ctsin unstriated muscle produced by various ions. Proc. Indian Acad Sci., 17, 143.

muscle. Curr. Sci., 13, 251.

(With Sehra K B) Toaic elongaticn of unstriated muscle. ihid, 13, 31.1.

The effect of temperature and ions on the impendence of unstriated muscle and

Viscosity and contraction of unstriated muscle.

(With Sehra K B and Singh S I) Tetanisation of the heart. Curr. Sci., 14, 128. \

Treatment of Black-water fever. Nature, 15A, 84.

Pvoc. Indian Acad. Sci., 19, 130. – (With Narain B) Indirect stimulation cf unstriated muscle. Proc. Indian

its relation to permability and excitability. Acad. Sci., 20, 190

1945. (With Sfhra K B and Singh S I) An electrolyte free medium for the frog’s

Curr. Sci., 14, 141.

– (With Singh S I) Electrical transmission at nerve ending. ibid, 14, 244. – Mode of action of potassiunl on unstriated muscle. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci.,

22, 76.

Mode of a c t i ~ n~f arugs on unstraited muscles and nature of inhibition. ibid,

22, 123.

– (With Gokhale S K) The effect of ammonium on the pctassium contents

of unstriated muscle and its relation to the constraction produced on withdrawal of chemical substance from around the muscle. ibid, 22, 292.

1946. Comparative physiology of un striated, cardiac and striated mu5cle. ibid, 2 3 58 A Pernicious and resistant forms of malaria. Jv. Ins. Med. Acad., 15 103.

– A farther note on the treatment of black fever with Antive>lene. Jr. Ins. Med.

Acrrd., 15, 147.

1946. (With Singh S I and Muthana M C ) Racial characteristics. Curr. Sci., 15,


– (With Muthana M C) Does potassiunl stimulate by releasing acetylcholine.

ibid, 15, 169.

A (With Singh S I) Sleep and adaptation phenomenon. ibid, 15, 307.

– (With Singh S I) Tonus in striated muscle. ibid, 15, 243.

– (With Singh S I) The action of direct current on unstriated muscle. Proc.

Indian Acad. Sci., 26, 211.

1,947. (With Singh S I) The mode of action of acetylcholine on unstriated muscle.

Curr. Vci., 1 6 , 159.

(With Singh S I) Metabolism of unstriated muscle. ibid, 16, 254.

– (With Singh S I and Muthana M C) I. The Interaction between ions,

drugs and electrical stimulation as indicated by the contraction of aviail

unstriated mluscle. IT. Active elongations of unstriated muscle. Proc.

Indian Acad. Sci., 25, 51.

(With Singh S I) The mode cf action cf nerves on unstriated muscle. ibid,

25, 163.

(With Khan A K M) The effect of the interaction between ions, drugs and

electrical stimulation, as indicated by the contraction of human unstriated muscle. ibid, 26, 205.

Progesterone in the treatment of migrain. Lancet, 1, 145.

1,948. (With Singh S I) Neuromuscular transmission in frog’s unstraiated muscle.

Proc. Indian Acad. Sci.,28, 51.

(With Singh S I) The effect of asphyxia on the mechanical response of the

heart and graded response of the heart muscle.


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Nature, 152, 591.


lnderjit Singh

(With Singh S I) Active elongation of unstriated muscle. Curr. Sci., 17, 306.


(With Singh S I) Tonus in unstriated muscle. ihid, 17, 231.

1949. (With Singh S I) Metabolic mechanisms of unstriated muscle. ibid, 18,


(With Singh S I) The acticn of ions and drugs on the effects of

the mechanical response of unstriated muscle. rroc. Indian Acad. Sci.,

30, 47.

(With Singh S I) Reaction of fatigued unstriated muscles and their relation

to those of cardiac muscle. ibid, 30, 95.

(With Singh, S I) The effect of asphyxia on the response unstraited muscle to

ions and drugs. ibid, 30, 168.

(With Singh S I) The interrelation between various metabolic mechanism in


as-;hyxia o n

unstriated muscle. ibid, 30, 21 5.

Tonus and inhibition in unstriated muscle. Proc. Indian Aczd Sci. 30, 190.

1950. (With Singh S I) Active relaxation of unstriated muscle during inhibition produced by adrenaline. Curr. Sci., 19, 60.

1957. (With Bhatt J) Mechanical and electrical response of unstriated muslc in

sodium free solution. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1054, 64,.

1958. (With Acharya A K) Electrical versus chemical theory of neuromuscular

transmission. ibid, 1058, 41.

(With Acharya A K) Two contractile system in muscle. Indian J. Phys.

Pharma., 2, 362.

1959. (With Sharma S and Bhatnagar 0 P) Opposite eflect of certain ions on the response to nervous stimulation on and the secreation of acetylcholine in unstriated muscle. Ifidialz J. Phys. Allied Sci., 13, 31.

(With Sharma S and Bhatnagar 0 P) Some evidence against the chemical theory of neuro-muscular transmission. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1059, 369. (With Sharma S and Bhatnagar 0 P) Absence of secretion of acetylcholine

on stimulation of nerves in an unstriated muscle. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1210, 129.

1960. (With Singh S I et al.) Source of adrenaline and noradrenaline in the frog’s heart on stimulation of the sympathetic nerve. P r ~ c .Indzan Acad.

Sci., 52, 33.

(With Amarjit Singh and Kunwarijit Singh) Life without breathing oxygen.

ibid, 52, 16.

(With Singh, S I and Bhatanagar 0 P) The source of acetyl- choline in the

frog’s heart on direct electrical stimulation. ibid, 51, 249.

Release of 5-Hyciroxy-tryptamine on stimulation of nerves to frog’s stomach.

ibid, 52, 116.

Life without breathing I-Arch. Int. Pharmacodyri, 29, 239.

(With Bhataoagar 0 P) Source of Acetyicholine in the frog’s heart on stimu-

Arch. Iltt. Pharmacodyn., 32, 317.

(With Singh S I and Dhalla N S) Active relaxation of upstriated muscle

produced by ephinenhrine. Jr. Phys., 200, 955.

1962. Electrical and mechanical activity of frog’s heart in electrolyte free solution


Absence of response to adenosinetriphophate in a glycerinated unstriated muscle. Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 1058, 131.

Proc. Indian Acad. Sci., 5 1, 52.

lation of the vagus nerve.

– (With Sharma J) Co~rtractionof unstriated muscle without fission of ATP

or creatinine phosphate. ibid, 52, 43. 1961. Origin of the electricity from animal tissue.

Nature, 27, 786.

The antagonastic action of Acetylcholine and vagus nerve on the frog’s heart.

Am.Jr. Phys., 203, 423,.




Biographical Memoirs

Life wit.hout breathing I1-Arch. Int. Pharm., 37, 319-330.

Intimate nature of muscle contraction. Nature, 196, 1721.

(With Raj.u N V) Role of adenosinetriphosphate in muscular contraction,

ibid, 199, 200.

Release of histamine on stimulation of nerves in frog’s stomach muscle and its

significant. Arch. Int. Pharm., 142, 522.

Intracellular receptors for the action of drugs and ions on smooth muscle. ibid,

71, 680.

Neuromuscular transmission in frogs nerve smooth muscle preparation in elec-

trolyte free solution. ibid, 71, 361.

Tryptaminergic fibres in frog’s vague nerve. ibid, 71, 371.

Starling law of heart in cardiac and unstriated muscles killed by heat.

Experientia, 19, 34.

Release of substance P on neurones and electrical stimulation of frog’s stomach

muscle. Arch. Int. Pkar., 143, 138.

Sequence of release of neurohormones on neurones stimulation of frog’s stomach

muscle. ibid, 148, 350.

The basis of excitation and action potentials in muscles and nerve. ibid, 72, 378.

Seasonal variations in the nature of neurotransmitters in a frog’s vagus stomach muscle preparation. ibid, 72, 843.

The relation between ionic fluxes and action of drugs on smooth muscle. Experientia, 20, 33.

preparation. Brit. Jr. Phar., 22, 403.

1965. Hydroxy-trytaminergic transwission in frog’s vagus stomach muscle prepara-

tion. Arch. Int. Phys., 73, 774.

Kinenergic transmission in a frog’s vagus stomach muscle preparation. ibid,

73, 505.

– Contraction of frog’s stomach muscle and heart in non-ionic solution.

Experientia, 21, 77.

1966. Theorigin of action potential in frog’s stomach muscle and heart. ibid, 22, 165.

Experientia, 21, 77.

Histaminergic transmission in a frog’s stomach muscle prepxation. Arch. fnt.

De. Physiol et de Biologic. 74, 365.

1967. The contraction of frog’s stomach muscle and frog’s heart in electrolyte free solu-

tion. Experence 23, 996.

1970. The inhibitory sflect of sodium on the contraction of frog’s heart with sucrose

solution. ibid, 26, 275.

Neurones Histaminergiques, kinenergiques et Hydroxytryptaminergiques dans

les ganglions intramurax due muscle gastrique et du muscle vesical de la grenouil. J. Ehys., 62, 431.

Release of neurokinin on nervous and electrical stimulation of frog’s stomach

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