Guntupalli awarded highest honor from President of India

Feb. 1, 2012

Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli
Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli

Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli, professor and chief of the section of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at BCM, recently received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, the highest award given by the Indian government to Indians living overseas.

Guntupalli was one of 15 recipients of the award this year and one of only two from the United States to receive the award, which she was presented with at a ceremony hosted by the President of India, Pratibha Patil, in Jaipur, India, in early January.

"Of all the awards I received, this one by the people of India means the most to me," said Guntupalli.

Guntupalli came to the United States from Hyderabad, India, in 1973 after graduating from medical school for higher medical studies. However, she continued to travel back and forth to India for more than 30 years to teach, organize conferences, see patients and even establish a medical school and school of respiratory therapy in India.

One of the projects that she has been most passionate about is creating anti-tobacco educational materials for adults and children in India and the United States. Her educational CD, "Evils of Tobacco," was translated into seven languages in India and reached more than 150,000 people. The "Ant E Tobacco" cartoon for children has reached more than 60,000 children in Texas.

Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli receives the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the president of India, Pratibha Patil.
Dr. Kalpalatha Guntupalli receives the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the president of India, Pratibha Patil.

In 1998, Guntupalli was elected as the first female president of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, an organization that represents the interests of 45,000 physicians of Indian origin in the United States. She was one of the directors of "Pratham," a literacy organization promoting education to the underprivileged in India.

She also served as the president of the 20,000-strong American College of Chest Physicians in 2010.

At the award ceremony, Guntupalli received the additional honor of being asked to give a response on behalf of all of the recipients. The award consists of a citation, gold medal and a lapel pin.

"It's nice to be recognized in India. I'm very happy about the award," said Guntupalli.