Dedicated to the soul of Late. "Asima Chatterjee"
Born on September 23, 1917, Asima Chatterjee, was one of the first Indian women to earn a doctorate in science in British India. She paved the way for Indian women to pursue organic chemistry and opened the world’s eyes to the power of medicinal plants. Her most notable work includes research on vinca alkaloids, the development of anti-epileptic drugs, and development of anti-malarial drugs. She also authored a considerable volume of work on medicinal plants of the Indian subcontinent. She was the first woman to receive a Doctorate of Science from an Indian university.
Asima Chatterjee (née Mookerjee) was born on 23 September 1917 in Bengal. Chatterjee grew up in Calcutta in a middle-class family where she was encouraged to get an education. Her father was very interested in botany and Chatterjee shared in his interest. She graduated with honors in chemistry from the Scottish Church College of the University of Calcutta in 1936.
Chatterjee's contributions to science include the following:
- Initiated chemical investigation of alkaloids in Rauwolfia canescens.
- Investigated the chemistry of almost all principal types of indole alkaloids.
- Contributions to the elucidation of the structure and stereochemistry of ajmalicine and sarpagine.
- First suggested stereo-configuration of sarpagine.
- Isolated and characterised geissoschizine, a key precursor in biogenesis of indole alkaloids from Rhazya stricta.
- Carried out synthetic studies on a number of complex indole, quinoline and isoquinoline alkaloids.
- Developed procedures for the preparation of beta-phenylethanolamines in connection with alkaloid synthesis.
- Elucidated the structure of luvangetin isolated from Luvanga scandens.
- Studied the action of various Lewis acids on prenylated coumarins and devised simple synthetic routes to a number of complex coumarin systems.
- Investigated the mechanism of acid-catalysed hydramine fission of beta phenylethanol amines.
- Introduced the use of periodic acid as a reagent for the detection and location of both terminal and exocyclic double bonds in organic compounds.
Awards and recognition
- She was a Premchand Roychand Scholar of the University of Calcutta.
- From 1962 to 1982, she was the Khaira Professor of Chemistry, one of the most prestigious and coveted chairs of the University of Calcutta.
- In 1972, she was appointed as the Honorary Coordinator of the Special Assistance Programme to intensify teaching and research in natural product chemistry, sanctioned by the Indian University Grants Commission.
- In 1960, she was elected a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi
- In 1961, she received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in chemical science, becoming the first female recipient of this award.
- In 1975, she was conferred the prestigious Padma Bhushan and became the first female scientist to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress Association .
- She was conferred the D. Sc. (honoris causa) degree by several universities.
- She was nominated by the President of India as a Member of the Rajya Sabha from February 1982 to May 1990.
- On 23 September 2017, the search engine Google deployed a 24-hour Google Doodle in honour of the 100th anniversary of Chatterjee's birth.
With all great respect, we wish to dedicate this 2nd World Congress on Drug Discovery and Development- 2018 to Late. Asima Chatterjee for his tireless fight against drug research and being the force behind our knowledge of Drug Development today.