Parveen Kumar was born in Lahore. She came to this country in her mid teens and finished school in the UK. She qualified in medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, University of London. After qualifying, she trained as a gastroenterologist under Dr Anthony Dawson and Dr Michael Clark, and did her research at Bart's. She has spent most of her life working in the NHS in North and East of London at the Homerton, Bart's and the Royal London Hospitals, where she practised clinically as a physician and gastroenterologist until April of this year. She is continuing her position at the medical school and teaches at Bart's and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London. She was the academic sub-dean and later director of postgraduate medical education for Bart's, the London, and the Homerton Hospitals. She developed and started the first MSc degree programme in gastroenterology in this country.
Her major research interest is in coeliac disease (and its immunogenetic aetiological factors) and she has published widely on this topic and also on other small-bowel disorders. With her co-author she changed the face of medical publishing when they authored Kumar and Clark's Clinical Medicine, currently in its 7th edition.
She has held many national offices, including at the Royal College of Physicians, and has served on the Medicines Commission UK, as a non-executive director on NICE and also as a non-executive director of an acute hospital trust. She was the President of the British Medical Association (BMA) and is currently President of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM).
She was a trustee of the charities Cancerbackup and the Medical College of St Bartholomew's Hospital's Trust. Currently she is a trustee of several charities including the Tropical Health and Education Trust, the RSM, the British Society of Gastroenterology, and an African research consortium. She has just become the Chairman of the BUPA Foundation, which awards money for research projects.
Professor Kumar was made a CBE for services to Medicine in 2000 and was also voted the first Asian Woman of the Year (Professional) in 1999. She was awarded the BMA Gold medal for services to Medicine and Education and received a national award from the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.