Tribute to Professor K M Nazrul Islam


Professor Abdul Mannan Sikdar


The modern trend of histopathology in Bangladesh was unveiled through the hands of Professor K M Nazrul Islam.  This he built up gradually acquiring knowledge and skill by vast reading and training under very competent teachers from the Illinois University at JPMC, Karachi. His keen observation power, attitude towards life, politeness but strong character, affection towards students, and delivering difficult subjects in a simple way attracted and influenced the students and colleagues alike.

Professor K M Nazrul Islam  was born on June 16, 1931, and had schooling at different parts of East and West Bengal.  After graduating from Dhaka Medical College in 1958, he worked for a brief period at Rajshahi Medical College and then went to Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPGC) in Karachi for studying Pathology.  After obtaining  M. Phil. Degree in Pathology in 1963, he joined  the faculty of JPMC as Assistant Professor.  Professor Islam returned to Bangladesh in 1973, fleeing through Afghanistan. On returning, he joined the then IPGM&R.  He was promoted to the post of Professor in 1977 and served as head of the department until his retirement in 1991. He joined BIRDEM as an honorary consultant the same year and continued till 2000.


Professor K M Nazrul Islam led a successful professional life, creating a modern trend in histopathology teaching and service in Bangladesh. At IPGMR, he trained more than 70 pathologists. His students are successfully executing their duties in the country and abroad.  The fact that histopathology service is widely available throughout Bangladesh can be credited to his name.   Prof. K. M. Nazrul Islam was also a fellow of the Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons, a Commonwealth Fellow, and was awarded honorary Ph. D. by the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in recognition of his work in the field of pathology.

Professor K M Nazrul Islam was a pioneer in histopathology in Bangladesh. Before that, there was no effective and widely accepted or popular histopathology practice in the then East Pakistan. After Bangladesh became independent, there was a modest beginning of the subject with fresh enthusiasm in IPG&R at Shahbagh, Dhaka.


However, it started gaining popularity and impact in clinicians and patients only when Professor K M Nazrul Islam joined the department in early 1973. As soon as he started joining symposia, seminars, and classes, he was becoming highly popular. Students, clinicians, and everyone were amazed to see his depth of knowledge and very impressive way of presentations.


Later, when he became Head of the Department, he took the initiative to improve and update the system for effective training for the postgraduate students.


It was a landmark history he made by establishing a first ever private practicing  histopathology lab in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


He gained so much confidence among the clinicians and patients all over Bangladesh that the words “Histopathology and K M Nazrul Islam” became synonymous.


Professor K M Nazrul Islam died on 11th June 2017, a month after the death of his wife. He left behind four daughters, two sons, ten grandchildren, and hundreds of pathology and other clinical peers.  He will always be regarded as a great teacher and true mentor by his students.


Before conclusion, I like to say, an ever great teacher and initiator, he was to start the histopathology in Bangladesh.