Narasimha Rao Potharaju
President, International Leprosy Association
After completing Postgraduate medicine in Dermatology in 1985, Dr. Narasimha Rao worked initially as a Rural Medical officer in a Primary Healthcare Centre for four years in Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh. This was one of the first few districts in India where MDT for leprosy was initially introduced. There, Dr. Narasimha Rao experienced first-hand the fervor and enthusiasm of MDT use for leprosy. In 1990 Dr. Rao joined the Department of Dermatology & Leprosy at Osmania Medical College/Hospital in Hyderabad as faculty. He was involved in post-graduate student teaching and training, in addition to the care of patients. He continued in this position until 2007, during which time he also defended his Ph.D. thesis on the therapy of leprosy at the Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences, India. From 2008 to 2010, Dr. Rao worked as Consultant at BPHRC, LEPRA- Society, India.
In 2012 he was appointed as a Professor of Dermatology & Leprosy at Bhaskar Medical College, KNR University of Health Sciences in Telangana, India. In 2019 he became the National President of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists, and Leprologists (IADVL). During his tenure, he successfully initiated dialogue with the Central Leprosy Division, Government of India, to make IADVL an official partner of the National Leprosy Programme (NLEP). He also launched a Special Interest Group (SIG) for Skin-NTDs and conducted a successful nationwide DermLep survey to understand the role of dermatologists in leprosy care across India.
In 2021, he was elected as the President of the Indian Association of Leprologists (IAL), the oldest leprosy association in India. He is a member of the Project Review Committee-Leprosy, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee, Stanley Browne Laboratory (SBL), TLMTI, India.
Dr. Rao was the Organizing Secretary of the 21st International Leprosy Congress (ILC), held successfully from 8-11 November 2022, in Hyderabad, India. During this Congress, he was elected as the President of the International Leprosy Association (ILA), a position he will hold until the next Congress in 2025. He continues to be a Professor of Dermatology at KNR University of Health Sciences, Telangana, India.