Dr. Vasanta Lakshmi Putcha, PhD 1946-2015

Putcha 1in

Vasanta Lakshmi Putcha, a long time resident of Houston, a role model, a respected NASA scientist, an intellectual and lover of Indian fine arts and a woman of many talents, passed away on Monday, September 28, 2015 after a tragic car accident the Wednesday before, September 23. Reportedly she suffered a stroke while driving and then crashed, sustaining massive injuries. Though she was Life Flighted to Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, she had severe damage to the brain stem and could not be saved.

Putcha, 69, was the Chief Pharmacologist at NASA-Johnson Space Center, having started her career as a post-doctoral fellow in 1982 and went on to develop cutting-edge applications for astronaut health care operations in space and on Earth. Over the course of her career, Putcha was awarded grants by the National Institutes of Health and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, to name just a few. Her contributions to the field of Pharmacotherapeutics include significantly expanding our knowledge of the wide-ranging effects of space flight on humans, as well as resolving critical human health and safety issues for future exploratory missions, including ones to Mars.

Putcha was driven by an insatiable curiosity and an uncompromising pursuit for excellence. In her own words, the guiding principle of her life was, “if you can dream it, you can achieve it.”  This passion infused all aspects of her personality—she was a rasika in the truest sense of the word; a gardener and botanist extraordinaire; a gifted writer; and a fount of wisdom and experience. In short, she was a force of nature–her energy and capacity for love were essentially unbounded. Although her life was unexpectedly cut short, her spirit will endure through the many lives she touched.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, September 30 from noon till 2pm at the John Clayton Funeral Home, 5530 West Broadway, Pearland, Texas.