Soumya Swaminathan Yadav is an Indian paediatrician and clinical scientist known for her research on tuberculosis and HIV. Since March 2019, Swaminathan has served as the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization. Previously, from October 2017 to March 2019, she was the Deputy Director General of Programmes (DDP) at the World Health Organization.
Early life and education
Swaminathan was born in Kumbakonam, India. Swaminathan is the daughter of "Father of Green Revolution of India" M. S. Swaminathan and Indian educationalist Mina Swaminathan. Swaminathan has two siblings, Madhura Swaminathan, a professor of economics at the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore, and Nithya Swaminathan, a Senior Lecturer in Gender Analysis in International Development at the University of East Anglia.
Swaminathan received an M.B.B.S. from the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune. She has an M.D. in pediatrics from All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi. She is a Diplomate of National Board from National Board of Examinations. As part of her training, from 1987 to 1989 Swaminathan completed a post-doctoral medical fellowship in neonatology and pediatric pulmonology at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
From 1989 to 1990, Swaminathan was a Research Fellow (Registrar) in the Department of Pediatric Respiratory Diseases at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.
She then worked as a Senior Research Officer (Supernumerary Research Cadre), Cardiopulmonary Medicine Unit, as well as an Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor at the Department of Public Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in New Jersey.
In 1992, Swaminathan joined the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis a/k/a Tuberculosis Research Centre, where she was Coordinator, Neglected Tropical Diseases. She later became the director of the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis.
From 2009 to 2011, Swaminathan was Coordinator of the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in Geneva.
Until 2013, she was Director, National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) in Chennai.
From August 2015 to November 2017, Swaminathan was Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Secretary of the Department of Health Research (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare) for the Government of India.
Career with WHO
From October 2017 to March 2019, Swaminathan was Deputy Director-General of the World Health Organization.
In March 2019, Swaminathan became Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization, where she participated in regular bi-weekly press briefings on the COVID-19 pandemic. She has urged countries to conduct whole genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus more frequently and to upload sequences to the GISAID project.
Swaminathan is married to Ajit Yadav, an orthopedic surgeon.