The Fourth International Symposium on Basic Approach to Allergic Rhinitis will be held in Tokyo on Feb. 10 and 11. Its central theme, "allergy -- from the nose to the lung," is to focus on the impact and relation of allergic rhinitis and asthma. President of the Fourth ISBAAR and a founder of the series is Dr. Ruby Pawankar, who says this nonprofit organization is dedicated to the education of clinicians, residents and research fellows on the mechanisms and treatment of allergic rhinitis and related diseases. It aims to increase global awareness of allergic diseases. "Their increasing incidence is well recognized," Pawankar said. "Today, allergy is considered a global health issue."

Pawankar was born to an eminent Syrian Christian family in Calcutta. She regards her surging energy and minimal need for sleep as gifts from God. She says that in India she was always used to very tight schedules, so she learned early on to deal readily with demands made upon her. As well as being an ear, nose and throat surgeon at Nippon Medical School, she is a guest professor at Kyung-Hee University in Seoul and at the Showa University School of Medicine in Tokyo. Her commitments to world and area organizations and to writing and lecturing are multiple, as are the medals, grants and awards she has received.

Pawankar says she "proudly remains an Indian citizen. Growing up in a culturally pluralistic and ever evolving society made me an extremely tolerant person. I learned to appreciate and respect diversity." There were doctors in her wider but not in her immediate family. When she announced her intention to study medicine, "My parents thought it a kind of childhood infatuation that I would grow out of," she said. "But I was persistent."