|Occupation Neurosurgeon||Name T. Kanaka|
|Other names Tanjore Santhana Krishna Kanaka
Known for Asia's first female neurosurgeon
T. S. Kanaka or Thanjavur Santhanakrishna Kanaka, also known as Tanjore Santhana Krishna Kanaka, (born 31 March 1932) is Asia's first female neurosurgeon and one of the world's first few female neurosurgeons. She is the first neurosurgeon in India to perform chronic electrode implants in the brain; having performed deep brain stimulation as early as in 1975. She pioneered functional neurosurgery in the 1960s and 1970s along with Prof. Balasubramaniam, Prof. S. Kalyanaraman; and received recognition for her research and contributions to the field of stereotactic surgery.
Kanaka was one of eight children born to Santhanakrishna and Padmavathi in Madras. Her father was the Deputy Director of Public Instruction and Principal of Madras Teachers College. Despite an urge to pursue spiritual studies in her early years, she went on to study medicine. She completed MBBS in December 1954, MS (General Surgery) in March 1963, MCh (Neurosurgery) in March 1968, PhD in 1972 and Diploma in Higher Education (DHEd) in 1983. When stereotaxy started in Madras in 1960, B.Ramamurthi and his team, V. Balasubramaniam, S. Kalyanaraman and T. S. Kanaka supported by their neurologist counterparts G. Arjundas and K. Jagannathan, became the earliest team in India to perform stereotaxic procedures.
Kanaka served in the Indian Army as a commissioned officer during the 1962-1963 Sino-Indian War. She was predominantly associated for most of her career with the Government General Hospital. Kanaka also taught at the Madras Medical College, Epidemiological Research Centre, Adyar Cancer Institute, Hindu Mission Hospital and other hospitals. She works with several organisations to aid provision of healthcare to economically disadvantaged people. She has been working with TTD (Tirumala) for over 30 years. She was formerly listed in the Limca Book of Records for the highest number of blood donations by an individual. As of 2004 she was noted to have donated blood 139 times.
Kanaka was one of the world's first female neurosurgeons; having qualified with a degree (MCh) in Neurosurgery in March 1968; after Diana Beck (1902-1956), and Aysima Altinok who qualified in November 1959.
In 1996, Kanaka became the Honorary President of the Asian Women's Neurosurgical Association. At that time she was formally acknowledged as Asia's first female neurosurgeon. She retired as a surgeon in 1990 but continues to offer consultancy services. She used her own funds to establish a hospital, named after her parents as Sri Santhanakrishna Padmavathi Health Care and Research Foundation, which offers free healthcare to the needy. She is currently involved in a project that fabricates deep-brain-stimulation kits in India by Indian biomedical engineers.