Prof. Schroff, who was not trained as a pharmacist, gave the right direction not only to pharmaceutical education but also to the industry as well in India with his inclination, understanding, capacity and broad vision.
Born on March 6, 1902 at Darbhanga in Bihar, Schroff had his schooling from Bhagalpur and passed the Intermediate Examination in 1920. He joined Engineering College Banaras Hindu University for his studies and was inspired by the talk delivered by Swamy Satya Deo at BHU in 1921.
Encouraged by the call given by the Mahatma Gandhi, Prof. Schroff raised a voice against the then principal Charles A King and he was asked to leave the Institution as punishment. Schroff left India soon after this and stayed in China and also 15-16 months in Japan, during which he worked with a newspaper and succeeded in collecting a good amount and then proceeded to America for his higher studies.
In 1922, he enrolled for his BSc at Chemical Engineering Course at Iowa and earned the coveted scholarship. However, soon he left the institution and joined Cornell University and got his degree in Arts (AB) with honours in Chemistry, in 1925. Further, he obtained his MS in Chemistry and Microbiology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1927.
After returning to India in 1929, he took up a job with Birla Brothers Ltd. He was very much frustrated with the trade and self-interest of the society and momentarily thought of going back to the United States. However, the meeting with Jamnalal Bajaj transformed his attitude towards patriotism for his country and involved himself in the movement for freedom. With the pursuance of J. L. Bajaj he was introduced to the then Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University. Pt. Madan Mohan Malviyaji, who spotted the spirit of education in his eyes and he was invited to join BHU as a staff in an honorary capacity.
In 1932, at BHU, Prof. Schroff, with his chemical technology background urged Pt. M.M. Malaviyaji to start a separate branch (section) of Pharmaceutical Sciences at BHU. Pt. Malaviyaji realized its importance and Schroff was given the green signal to organise this new discipline in India, for the first time.
Prof. Schroff introduced Pharmaceutical Chemistry as the principal Subject in the B.Sc. course in 1932 in BHU. From 1934 an integrated 2-year BSc. Course with the subjects -- pharma chemistry, pharmacy and pharmacognosy, was introduced, which later from 1937 was turned into a full-fledged three-year B Pharm course at BHU for the first time in India. This was the first and the foremost creation of Prof M L Schroff, which earned him the title of the pioneer and father of Indian pharmaceutical education.
Soon, Prof Schroff -- in December 1935 -- started United Provinces Pharma Association, which soon crossed the borders of UP in 1939 and took the shape of Indian Pharmaceutical Association in 1939 with branches all over the country. He himself edited the Indian Journal of Pharmacy, founded in January 1939.
Prof. Schroff very carefully earned the confidence, love and affection of the top intellectuals, scientists and industrialists, doyens of chemistry, technology, pharmacology and medical practitioners, and successfully created the awareness of this science for the development of pharmaceutical education of science and technology in India.
Prof Schroff started the M Pharm Education in 1940 at BHU with his efforts. Slowly the pharmacy education sprung up in different places in India. He left BHU in 1943 and joined Birla Brothers as their Chief Chemist and Research Officer and served as Secretary to the Birla Laboratories till 1949 at Calcutta. But the teacher within him made him restless and he was given the position and responsibility as principal at Birla College, Pilani, where for the next five years he organized Pharmacy education at intermediate and degree level successfully. His skill in journalism flourished when he started his own periodical "Indian Pharmacist" from 1945 for a further period of ten years.