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Google celebrates 100th birthday of chemist Asima Chatterjee

Google celebrates 100th birthday of chemist Asima Chatterjee

Kolkata, Sep 23 (UNI) Famous Search engine Google today celebrated 100th birthday of Asima Chatterjee, the first woman scientist to be awarded a Doctor of Science from an Indian University. For the today's Google Doodle, the search giant is honoring an award-winning chemist whose research in organic chemistry had a profound impact on how plants are used for medicinal purposes. The design of the Google Doodle is striking. It’s been transformed into a skeletal formula, a series of hexagons with single and double bond lines between them, commonly used to represent carbon and hydrogen atoms in organic chemistry. Dr Chatterjee herself is represented as a modest, bespectacled woman with green leaves for hair, a nod to her work in Indian medicinal plants. The Doodle shows a skeletal formula and a drawing of Chatterjee with green leaves for hair, a nod to her work in Indian medicinal plants. Born on September 23, 1917, Dr Chatterjee has various contributions on the research of vinca alkaloids and the development of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. Dr Chatterjee received a master's degree (1938) and a doctoral degree (1944) in organic chemistry from the University of Calcutta. Her doctoral research focused on the chemistry of plant products and synthetic organic chemistry. In 1962, Dr Chatterjee was appointed the prestigious Khaira professorship of Chemistry at the University of Calcutta, a position she held till 1982. Among her notable instructors at the time were Prafulla Chandra Roy and Prof S.N. Bose. Additionally, she had research experience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Caltech. Dr Chatterjee's research concentrated on natural products chemistry and resulted in anti-convulsive, anti-malarial, and chemotherapy drugs. She was also successful in developing the anti-epileptic drug, 'Ayush-56' from Marsilia minuta and the anti-malarial drug from Alstonia scholaris, Swrrtia chirata, Picrorphiza kurroa and Ceasalpinna crista. The patented drugs have been marketed by several companies. Dr Chatterjee made significant contributions in the field of medicinal chemistry with special reference to alkaloids, coumarins and terpenoids, analytical chemistry, and mechanistic organic chemistry. She published around 400 papers in national and international journals and more than a score of review articles in reputed serial volumes. Her publications have been extensively cited and much of her work has been included in several textbooks. Dr Chatterjee was the first woman to be awarded a Doctor of Science by an Indian University - in 1944, by the University of Calcutta. She was also the first woman to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress, a premier institution that oversees scientific research. Dr Chattejee had edited and rewritten Bharater Bonousadhi (originally compiled by the late Dr KP Biswas), a treatise in Bengali on Indian Medicinal Plants in six volumes (Volumes 1-5; 1973; Volume 6; 1977) and published by the Calcutta University Press. As an author/principal-editor she compiled The Treatise on Indian Medicinal Plants published in six volumes in English, earlier by the Publication and Information Directorate, CSIR, then by the National Institute of Science Communication, CSIR and now by the National Institute of Communication and Information Resources, CSIR. In 1940 Dr Chatterjee joined Lady Brabourne College, Calcutta, as the founder-Head of the Department of Chemistry. In 1944 she was appointed a Honorary Lecturer in Chemistry, Calcutta University. In 1947 she left for the U.S.A. on study leave from Lady Brabourne College. She worked with Professor L. M. Parks, University of Wisconsin, on Naturally Occurring Glycosides, with Professor L. Zechmeister, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, on Carotenoids and Provitamin A during 1948-49 (in recognition of this work she was awarded the Watumull fellowship) and with Professor P. Karrer, N. L., University of Zürich during 1949-50 on Biologically Active Indole Alkaloids, which became her life long interest. After her return to India in 1950, she started research on alkaloids and coumarins with renewed vigour. Her work on Rauwolfia species brought her into close association with the late Professor Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, FRS, former Director of Husein Ebrahim Jamal Post Graduate Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi, Pakistan. During those hard days, she received encouragement from Profs. Satyen Bose, Meghnath Saha, S. K. Mitra , B. C. Guha and Sir J. C. Ghosh and other Vice-Chancellors of Calcutta University. Her husband, Professor Baradananda Chatterjee, a renowned Physical Chemist himself and the Vice-Principal of the then Bengal Engineering College (now a Deemed University), Sibpur, Howrah, solidly stood by her." She has won several prestigious awards such as the S S Bhatnagar award, the C V Raman award, and the P C Ray award; and is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award, in recognition of her contributions to the field of science. Her area of interest was natural products with special reference to medicinal chemistry. On the request of the late Professor Satyendra Nath Bose, FRS, she wrote Sarai Madhyamic Rasayan, a book in Bengali on chemistry for secondary school students, published by Bangiya Bijnan Parishad, an Institute for the Popularisation of Science founded by SN Bose himself. UNI BM

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