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Asima Chatterjee

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Asima Chatterjee
Asima Chatterjee 1.jpg
Born(1917-09-23)23 September 1917
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died22 November 2006(2006-11-22) (aged 89)
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
EducationUniversity of Calcutta (DS)
OccupationChemist
Spouse
Baradananda Chatterjee
(m. 1945)
Children1
Scientific career
FieldsOrganic chemistry, phytomedicine
Institutions
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
18 February 1982 – 13 April 1984
In office
9 May 1984 – 8 May 1990
ConstituencyNominated

Asima Chatterjee (23 September 1917 – 22 November 2006)[1] was an Indian organic chemist noted for her work in the fields of organic chemistry and phytomedicine.[2] 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.[2]

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Organic chemistry

Organic chemistry

Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, and reactions of organic compounds and organic materials, i.e., matter in its various forms that contain carbon atoms. Study of structure determines their structural formula. Study of properties includes physical and chemical properties, and evaluation of chemical reactivity to understand their behavior. The study of organic reactions includes the chemical synthesis of natural products, drugs, and polymers, and study of individual organic molecules in the laboratory and via theoretical study.

Phytochemistry

Phytochemistry

Phytochemistry is the study of phytochemicals, which are chemicals derived from plants. Phytochemists strive to describe the structures of the large number of secondary metabolites found in plants, the functions of these compounds in human and plant biology, and the biosynthesis of these compounds. Plants synthesize phytochemicals for many reasons, including to protect themselves against insect attacks and plant diseases. The compounds found in plants are of many kinds, but most can be grouped into four major biosynthetic classes: alkaloids, phenylpropanoids, polyketides, and terpenoids.

Antimalarial medication

Antimalarial medication

Antimalarial medications or simply antimalarials are a type of antiparasitic chemical agent, often naturally derived, that can be used to treat or to prevent malaria, in the latter case, most often aiming at two susceptible target groups, young children and pregnant women. As of 2018, modern treatments, including for severe malaria, continued to depend on therapies deriving historically from quinine and artesunate, both parenteral (injectable) drugs, expanding from there into the many classes of available modern drugs. Incidence and distribution of the disease is expected to remain high, globally, for many years to come; moreover, known antimalarial drugs have repeatedly been observed to elicit resistance in the malaria parasite—including for combination therapies featuring artemisinin, a drug of last resort, where resistance has now been observed in Southeast Asia. As such, the needs for new antimalarial agents and new strategies of treatment remain important priorities in tropical medicine. As well, despite very positive outcomes from many modern treatments, serious side effects can impact some individuals taking standard doses.

Medicinal plants

Medicinal plants

Medicinal plants, also called medicinal herbs, have been discovered and used in traditional medicine practices since prehistoric times. Plants synthesize hundreds of chemical compounds for various functions, including defense and protection against insects, fungi, diseases, and herbivorous mammals.

Indian subcontinent

Indian subcontinent

The Indian subcontinent is a physiographical region in Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geopolitically, it includes the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The terms Indian subcontinent and South Asia are often used interchangeably to denote the region, although the geopolitical term of South Asia frequently includes Afghanistan, which may otherwise be classified as Central Asian.

Biography

Early life

Asima Chatterjee was born on 23 September 1917 in Kolkata, India.[3] She was born into a middle-class family which, at the time, meant no education for females. She was also the eldest child with a younger brother which meant having more responsibilities in an Indian family as you become the face of the new generation.[4] Her father Indra Narayan Mookerjee was a doctor and was very supportive of Asima and her brother’s education, which was rare at the time. Her father loved Botany, this was where she developed her interest in medicine. But, her particular interest in the field of medicine began with her curiosity regarding the medicinal properties of plants. In 1936, she did her higher studies in chemistry, passing with honors distinction, from the Scottish Church College of the University of Calcutta. There weren't many girls in her class as women were rarely pushed to study more.[5]

Education work

In an era when the women did not commonly pursue higher education, Asima chose to study Chemistry. She graduated, with honours, from the Scottish Church College, University of Calcutta in 1936. She further pursued Masters in Organic Chemistry from the University of Calcutta and obtained the degree in 1938. She did not stop at this and went on to do her D.Sc. at the University of Calcutta. She was the first woman to receive a doctorate at an Indian University in 1944.[6] As a doctoral student, she worked on the chemistry of plant products and synthetic organic chemistry with the renowned chemist, Prafulla Chandra Ray (known as the father of chemical science in India) and Satyendra Nath Bose, the famous physicist. She went on to work with Lásló Zechmeister at University of Wisconsin and Caltech for her post-doctoral research on biologically active alkaloids.

She later joined the University College of Science at the University of Calcutta as a Reader in pure Chemistry. She continued her research on the nature of biologically active compounds found in medicinal plants. At that time, it was very difficult for scientists to work due to fewer funds from the government and Asima had to invest her own money to send samples for analysis outside India. She struggled to get the necessary chemicals and reagents for her research and was barely able to pay her students' salaries. In spite of a huge setback in 1967, when she lost her father and husband within a span of 4 months, Asima Chatterjee came back to science after a few months (she suffered a major health scare herself at the same time). Her co-workers at that time provided her unstinting support and she overcame this trying period and continued her work.[6] Through her research, she developed anti-epileptic, anti-convulsive, and chemotherapy drugs to treat patients. The anti-epileptic drug – 'Ayush-56'- which she developed from Marsilia minuta is her most successful work and till date, it is used commercially.[7] From different types of plants she developed anti-malarial drugs with her team. She also dedicated 40 years of her time to research on cancer and anti-cancer growth drugs. She studied alkaloids, which were used effectively in chemotherapy for cancer patients.[8]

She was the first female to receive a doctorate and even started a chemistry department in the Lady Brabourne College of the University of Calcutta.[6]

Personal life

She married Baradananda Chatterjee, a physical-chemist, in 1945 and had a daughter, Julie, with him.[5] She died on 22 November 2006 in a nursing home in Kolkata, at the age of 89.[1][3]

Achievements

Chatterjee's contributions to science include the following:[9]

  • 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.

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Kolkata

Kolkata

Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River 80 km (50 mi) west of the border with Bangladesh. It is the primary business, commercial, and financial hub of Eastern India and the main port of communication for North-East India. According to the 2011 Indian census, Kolkata is the seventh-most populous city in India, with a population of 45 lakh (4.5 million) residents within the city limits, and a population of over 1.41 crore (14.1 million) residents in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area. It is the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. In 2021, the Kolkata metropolitan area crossed 1.5 crore (15 million) registered voters. The Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. Kolkata is regarded as the cultural capital of India. Kolkata is the second largest Bengali-speaking city after Dhaka. It has the highest number of nobel laureates among all cities in India.

Rauvolfia tetraphylla

Rauvolfia tetraphylla

Rauvolfia tetraphylla is a plant in the family Apocynaceae, growing as a bush or small tree. It is commonly known as the be still tree or devil-pepper. The plant is native to Mexico, Central America, West Indies, and northern South America. It has been cultivated widely as both an ornamental and for use in traditional medicine. It is now naturalized throughout the tropics including Australasia, Indochina, and India.

Stereochemistry

Stereochemistry

Stereochemistry, a subdiscipline of chemistry, involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms that form the structure of molecules and their manipulation. The study of stereochemistry focuses on the relationships between stereoisomers, which by definition have the same molecular formula and sequence of bonded atoms (constitution), but differ in structural formula. For this reason, it is also known as 3D chemistry—the prefix "stereo-" means "three-dimensionality".

Ajmalicine

Ajmalicine

Ajmalicine, also known as δ-yohimbine or raubasine, is an antihypertensive drug used in the treatment of high blood pressure. It has been marketed under numerous brand names including Card-Lamuran, Circolene, Cristanyl, Duxil, Duxor, Hydroxysarpon, Iskedyl, Isosarpan, Isquebral, Lamuran, Melanex, Raunatin, Saltucin Co, Salvalion, and Sarpan. It is an alkaloid found naturally in various plants such as Rauvolfia spp., Catharanthus roseus, and Mitragyna speciosa.

Indole alkaloid

Indole alkaloid

Indole alkaloids are a class of alkaloids containing a structural moiety of indole; many indole alkaloids also include isoprene groups and are thus called terpene indole or secologanin tryptamine alkaloids. Containing more than 4100 known different compounds, it is one of the largest classes of alkaloids. Many of them possess significant physiological activity and some of them are used in medicine. The amino acid tryptophan is the biochemical precursor of indole alkaloids.

Rhazya stricta

Rhazya stricta

Rhazya stricta is a native poisonous plant in Southern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. The plant is an evergreen dwarf shrub of the family Apocynaceae. درختچه ایشورک ishwark، هیشرک hishark یا هلیشرک helishark نامهای بومی این درختچه در زبان بلوچی است. پراکندگی در بیابان های بلوچستان . شاخ و برگ ایشورک برای تقویت اراضی کشاورزی و به عنوان آفتکش طبیعی توسط کشاورزان و باغداران استفاده می شود.

Indole

Indole

Indole is an aromatic heterocyclic organic compound with the formula C8H7N. It has a bicyclic structure, consisting of a six-membered benzene ring fused to a five-membered pyrrole ring. Indole is widely distributed in the natural environment and can be produced by a variety of bacteria. As an intercellular signal molecule, indole regulates various aspects of bacterial physiology, including spore formation, plasmid stability, resistance to drugs, biofilm formation, and virulence. The amino acid tryptophan is an indole derivative and the precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Quinoline alkaloids

Quinoline alkaloids

Quinoline alkaloids are naturally occurring chemical compounds from the group of alkaloids, which are chemically derived from quinoline. Some quinoline alkaloids show antiseptic, convulsive or antineoplastic effects.

Isoquinoline

Isoquinoline

Isoquinoline is a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound. It is a structural isomer of quinoline. Isoquinoline and quinoline are benzopyridines, which are composed of a benzene ring fused to a pyridine ring. In a broader sense, the term isoquinoline is used to make reference to isoquinoline derivatives. 1-Benzylisoquinoline is the structural backbone in naturally occurring alkaloids including papaverine. The isoquinoline ring in these natural compound derives from the aromatic amino acid tyrosine.

Coumarin

Coumarin

Coumarin or 2H-chromen-2-one is an aromatic organic chemical compound with formula C9H6O2. Its molecule can be described as a benzene molecule with two adjacent hydrogen atoms replaced by a lactone-like chain −(CH)=(CH)−(C=O)−O−, forming a second six-membered heterocycle that shares two carbons with the benzene ring. It can be placed in the benzopyrone chemical class and considered as a lactone.

Periodic acid

Periodic acid

Periodic acid is the highest oxoacid of iodine, in which the iodine exists in oxidation state +7. Like all periodates it can exist in two forms: orthoperiodic acid, with the chemical formula H5IO6, and metaperiodic acid, which has the formula HIO4.

Double bond

Double bond

In chemistry, a double bond is a covalent bond between two atoms involving four bonding electrons as opposed to two in a single bond. Double bonds occur most commonly between two carbon atoms, for example in alkenes. Many double bonds exist between two different elements: for example, in a carbonyl group between a carbon atom and an oxygen atom. Other common double bonds are found in azo compounds (N=N), imines (C=N), and sulfoxides (S=O). In a skeletal formula, a double bond is drawn as two parallel lines (=) between the two connected atoms; typographically, the equals sign is used for this. Double bonds were first introduced in chemical notation by Russian chemist Alexander Butlerov.

Awards and recognition

  • She was a Premchand Roychand Scholar of the University of Calcutta.[10]
  • From 1962 to 1982, she was the Khaira Professor of Chemistry, one of the coveted chairs of the University of Calcutta.[2]
  • 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.[2]
  • In 1960, she was elected a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.[2]
  • In 1961, she received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in chemical science, becoming the first female recipient of this award.[2]
  • In 1975, she was conferred the Padma Bhushan and became the first female scientist to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress Association .[2]
  • She was conferred the D. Sc. (honoris causa) degree by several universities.[2]
  • She was nominated by the President of India as a Member of the Rajya Sabha from February 1982 to May 1990.[2]
  • On 23 September 2017, the search engine Google deployed a 24-hour Google Doodle in honour of the 100th anniversary of Chatterjee's birth.[11]
  • She won the C.V Raman award, P.C Ray Award, and the S.S Bhatnagar award.[1]

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University Grants Commission (India)

University Grants Commission (India)

University Grants Commission (UGC) is a statutory body set up by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 and is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education in India. It provides recognition to universities in India, and disbursements of funds to such recognized universities and colleges. The headquarters are in New Delhi, and it has six regional centres in Pune, Bhopal, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati and Bangalore. A proposal to replace it with another new regulatory body called HECI is under consideration by the Government of India. The UGC provides doctoral scholarships to all those who clear JRF in the National Eligibility Test. On an average, each year ₹725 crore (US$91 million) is spent on doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships by the commission.

Padma Bhushan

Padma Bhushan

The Padma Bhushan is the third-highest civilian award in the Republic of India, preceded by the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan and followed by the Padma Shri. Instituted on 2 January 1954, the award is given for "distinguished service of a high order...without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex." The award criteria include "service in any field including service rendered by Government servants" including doctors and scientists, but exclude those working with the public sector undertakings. As of 2020, the award has been bestowed on 1270 individuals, including twenty-four posthumous and ninety-seven non-citizen recipients.

Indian Science Congress Association

Indian Science Congress Association

Indian Science Congress Association(ISCA) is a premier scientific organisation of India with headquarters at Kolkata, West Bengal. The association started in the year 1914 in Kolkata and it meets annually in the first week of January. It has a membership of more than 30,000 scientists.

President of India

President of India

The president of India is the head of state of the Republic of India. The president is the nominal head of the executive, the first citizen of the country, as well as the commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. Droupadi Murmu is the 15th and current president, having taken office from 25 July 2022.

Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha

The Rajya Sabha, constitutionally the Council of States, is the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India. As of 2021 it has a maximum membership of 245, of which 233 are elected by the legislatures of the states and union territories using single transferable votes through open ballots, while the president can appoint 12 members for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. The potential seating capacity of the Rajya Sabha is 245, according to article 80 of the Indian Constitution. Members sit for staggered terms lasting six years, with about a third of the 238 designates up for election every two years, in even-numbered years. The Rajya Sabha meets in continuous sessions, and unlike the Lok Sabha, being the lower house of the Parliament, the Rajya Sabha is not subjected to dissolution. However, the Rajya Sabha, like the Lok Sabha, can be prorogued by the president.

Google

Google

Google LLC is an American multinational technology company focusing on search engine technology, online advertising, cloud computing, computer software, quantum computing, e-commerce, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics. It has been referred to as "the most powerful company in the world" and one of the world's most valuable brands due to its market dominance, data collection, and technological advantages in the area of artificial intelligence. Its parent company Alphabet is considered one of the Big Five American information technology companies, alongside Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft.

Google Doodle

Google Doodle

A Google Doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google's homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures. The first Google Doodle honored the 1998 edition of the long-running annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, Nevada, and was designed by co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to notify users of their absence in case the servers crashed. Early Marketing employee Susan Wojcicki then spearheaded subsequent Doodles, including an alien landing on Google and additional custom logos for major holidays. Google Doodles were designed by an outside contractor until 2000, when Page and Brin asked public relations officer Dennis Hwang to design a logo for Bastille Day. Since then, a team of employees called "Doodlers" have organized and published the Doodles.

Source: "Asima Chatterjee", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 27th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asima_Chatterjee.

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References
  1. ^ a b c "Google honours Indian chemist Asima Chatterjee on 100th birthday". India Times. 23 February 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Shaping of Indian Science. p. 1036. Indian Science Congress Association, Presidential Addresses By Indian Science Congress Association. Published by Orient Blackswan, 2003. ISBN 978-81-7371-433-7
  3. ^ a b Medal Lectures, 1950–1983: A Collection of Lectures Delivered by Eminent Men of Science who Have Been Recipients of Various Medals and Honours from the Academy. Vol. 3. Indian National Science Academy. 1984. p. 112.
  4. ^ Jovita Aranha (23 September 2017). "Asima Chatterjee: All You Need to Know About One of India's First Woman Doctorates of Science!".
  5. ^ a b Karthika S Nair (14 March 2020). "Women's History Month: Asima Chatterjee".
  6. ^ a b c "Asima Chatterjee". Sci-Illustrate. 6 December 2019.
  7. ^ S C Pakrashi. "Asima Chatterjee" (PDF).
  8. ^ Woollaston, Victoria (23 September 2017). "Asima Chatterjee's life-saving work into treating cancer is marked in today's Google Doodle". Alphr. Retrieved 21 November 2022.
  9. ^ "Women Scientists of India: Dr. Asima Chatterjee – Google Arts & Culture". Google Cultural Institute. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  10. ^ Chemistry alumni of Scottish Church College Archived 6 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Smith, K.N. (23 September 2017). "Today's Google Doodle Honors Chemist Asima Chatterjee". Forbes. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
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