Dr. Soumya Swaminathan (scientist) Biography

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Who is Dr. Soumya Swaminathan?

Soumya Swaminathan (born 2 May 1959) is an associate Indian pediatrician specialist and clinical human better-known for her analysis of TB. Swaminathan has been the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization since March 2019. Previously, from October 2017 to March 2019, she was the Deputy Director-General of Programmes (DDP) at the World Health Organization.

Early Life

Soumya Swaminathan is the daughter of the “Indian Father of Revolution” M. S. Swaminathan and Indian educationist Mina Swaminathan.

Soumya has 2 siblings, Madhura Swaminathan, a professor of economics at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, and Nithya Swaminathan, a Senior Lecturer in “Gender Analysis” and Development at the University of East Anglia.

Swaminathan holds M.B.B.S. from Armed force Medical college and M.D. from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, along with a Diplomate of National Board from National Board of Examinations.


Soumya Swaminathan was one in all the 3 deputy director-generals and therefore the 1st Indian to carry the position at WHO.

She will currently be the chief scientist heading the organization’s new chief scientist division. Swaminathan can currently be a chief scientist in a very newly created department within the WHO.


She also held Post Doctoral Medical Fellowship in Pediatric Pulmonology at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

She Acclaimed for her research on Tuberculosis, she served as the director of the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis, Chennai.

She served on several WHO and global advisory bodies and committees, including the WHO expert panel to review global strategy and co-chair of the Lancet Commission on TB.

She started a multi-disciplinary group of clinical, laboratory, and behavioral scientists studying various aspects of TB and TB/HIV.

Most recently she is part of the TB Zero City Project which aims to create “Islands of elimination” working with local governments, institutions and grassroots associations

From 2009 to 2011, she served as the coordinator of the Unicef/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) in Geneva.

She has been serving as the Secretary of the Department of Health Research for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. She has over 250 peer-reviewed publications to her credit.


1999: XI National Pediatric Pulmonary Conference, Dr. Keya Lahiri Gold Medal for best paper

2008: Indian Council of Medical Research, Kshanika Oration Award

2009: International Union against TB and Lung Diseases, Vice-Chair, HIV section

2011: Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Fellow

2011: Indian Association of Applied Microbiologists, Lifetime Achievement Award

2012: Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Award

2012: National Academy of Sciences, India, Fellow

2013: Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, Fellow,

2016: NIPER, ASTRAZENECA research endowment award

Personal life

Swaminathan is married to Ajit Yadav, an orthopedic surgeon.

Four Pillars of the WHO

The Programmes pillar will support WHO’s work on universal health coverage and healthier populations.

The Emergencies pillar will be responsible for WHO’s critical health security responsibilities, both in responding to health crises and helping countries prepare for them.

The External Relations and Governance pillar will centralize and harmonize WHO’s work on resource mobilization and communications.

The Business Operations pillar will ensure more professionalized delivery of key corporate functions such as budgeting, finance, human resources, and supply chain,” WHO said in the statement.

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