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WBA Ministry of Science & Technology

Department of Biotechnology Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India



WBA Ministry of Science & Technology

Department of Biotechnology Ministry of Science & Technology Government of India

EDITORIAL TEAM Dr. Garima Gupta Mr. J.K. Dora Mr. Bharat Bhushan _______________________________ Published by: Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India

WBA ABOUT THE AWARDS Purpose : The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India instituted the National Women Bioscientist Award in the year 1999 to recognize outstanding contributions of women scientists in the area of lifesciences and biotechnology with potential for application, product and technology development. Nature of the Award: The award consists of following two categories: i) National Women Bioscientists Award (Senior Category) is awarded to senior women biologist for life time contributions, who have done outstanding contributions in scientific research in the country and has applied the results for the benefit of students and society. This Award carry a cash prize of ` 5.00 lakh with a citation, certificate and a gold plated medal. ii) National Women Bioscientists Award (Young Category) is awarded to outstanding contributions of women scientists below 45 years of age in the area of lifesciences and biotechnology. This Award carry a cash prize of ` 1.00 lakh with a citation , certificate and a gold plated medal. In addition to it, a research grant of ` 5.00 lakh per annum is given for a period of 5 years. Eligibility: Any Citizen of India including Overseas Citizen of India (OCIs) engaged in the area of life sciences and biotechnology in the country is eligible for the Award. The work for which nomination is made must have been carried out in Indian Institutes and acknowledged in the publications. Awardees: The following women scientists have been awarded the National Women Bioscientists Award since 2012 :-


WBA Awardees National Women Bioscientists Award 2016 Sl. No. 1. 2. 3.

NAME Dr. Chitra Sarkar Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee Dr. Debasree Dutta

Institution AIIMS, New Delhi UOH, Hyderabad RGCB, Thiruvananthapuram

Category Senior Young Young

Awardees National Women Bioscientists Award 2015 Sl. No. 1. 2. 3.

NAME Dr. Rentala Madhubala Dr. Ashverya Laxmi Dr. Kakoli Bose

Sl. No. 1. 2. 3.

NAME Dr. Nahid Ali Dr. Chaaya Iyengar Dr. Rupinder Kaur

INSTITUTE JNU, New Delhi NIPGR, New Delhi ACTREC, Navi Mumbai

AREA OF RESEARCH Senior Young Young

Awardees National Women Bioscientists Award 2014 INSTITUTE IICB, Kolkata NIPER, Mohali , Punjab CDFD, Hyderabad

AREA OF RESEARCH Senior Young Young

Awardees National Women Bioscientists Award 2013 Sl. No. 1. 2. 3.

NAME Dr. Somdatta Sinha Dr. Mamta Chawla Sarkar Dr. Annapoorni Rangarajan

Institution IISER, Mohali, Punjab NICED, Kolkata IISc, Bangalore

Subject Area Senior Young Young

Awardees National Women Bioscientists Award 2012 Sl. No. NAME 1. Dr. Saman Habib 2. Dr. Nandini Chatterjee Singh

Institution CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow NBRC, Manesar


Subject Area Young Young


National Women Bioscientists Award 2016 Awardees


WBA Dr. Chitra Sarkar Dr. Chitra Sarkar is a clinician scientist who made significant research contributions in both pediatric and adult Neuro-oncology. She combined her knowledge of medical science with molecular biology and genetics to obtain novel insights into the biology of various brain tumors. Her studies in molecular Neuro-oncology have provided novel insights into the genetic and epigenetic events fundamental to glioma initiation and progression. She has further taken some of her work from bench to bedside and established the role of various immunohistochemical, proliferation and molecular markers for more accurate objectivised diagnosis of brain tumors. She also developed economical and reliable molecular prognostic signatures and risk stratification systems, which can separate histologically similar tumors of the same grade into prognostically relevant subgroups. She has also contributed chapters in the 2007 and 2016 editions of “WHO Classification of the Tumors of the Central Nervous System”, which sets international guidelines in this area. She was the first Woman Scientist from India to be nominated as Vice-President of International Society of Neuropathology. Dr. Sarkar has been included as one of the 100 distinguished “Women in Science in India” published by Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore. She has played a key role in the development of the speciality of Neuropathology and Neuro-Oncology in India and is the founder member and President of the Neuropathology Society of India and Indian Society of Neuro-Oncology.


Dr. Chitra Sarkar Professor & Head of Neuropathology, Dean (Research), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi

WBA Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee, Professor in Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 2005 from University of Hyderabad for her work on mycobacterial TCA cycle enzymes at Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, India. The Research focus of her laboratory is molecular pathogenesis and immunology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis(M.tb), HIV and M.tb-HIV coinfection, with the long term objective of identification and validation of small molecules with anti-TB and anti-HIV properties, potential drug targets and biomarkers for early and specific diagnosis of tuberculosis.Her lab, through system-wide studies, identified the concurrent perturbations in the proteomes of both host cell and intracellular mycobacteria during HIV co-infection, providing molecular insights into HIV-TB co-infection biology. The study provided experimental evidences on how HIV exacerbates opportunistic mycobacterial infection and revealed critical mycobacterial pathways/proteins (like Esx-systems, Rip1, IdeR, Pks) that increased HIV titers during co-infection supporting further investigations of these factors as potentialtargets for HIV-TB disease management. Towards this, her lab also developed a distinctive field-compliant cell-culture based HIV-mycobacteria co-infection model for high-throughput drug-screening.At the host-pathogen interaction interface, new interactions between HIV-Rev and human-RNA binding protein Staufen-2 were identified that may regulate viral proliferation at multiple steps, including HIV entry into nucleus. Further investigation has revealed the potentiality of such host proteins to be packaged in budding HIV particles affecting infectivity. The ongoing studies point Rev-Staufen-2 complexes with additional host factors, playing a role in the larger canvas of HIV pathobiology. In collaboration, they identified a chiral molecule with anti-HIV activity and are working on decoding the mode of action of such molecules. In the area tuberculosis research, amulti-faceted mycobacterial protein (Zmp1) was validated as a promising biomarker for extra-pulmonary TB by her group, which can possibly answer the long unsolved problem of early detection of extra-pulmonary TB. Studies, using larger cohort is being planned towards this. Interestingly, they also discovered that Zmp-1 assisted mycobacterial dissemination during infection in Zebrafish model. Targeting this protein would help restricting mycobacteria from systemic spreading in patients. Her lab is systematically pursuing screening small molecules towards these factors and has narrowed down on a few assuring inhibitors against mycobacteria.She has, so far, published 35 research articles in peer reviewed journals, including four book chapters, besides general article. She is the recipient of INSA Young Scientist Award 2005; BioAsia Innovation Award 2008; DBT- Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (IYBA) 2011, University of Hyderabad Chancellor’s award-2017, Prof. B. K. Bachawat International Travel grant2018. She received the ‘National Women Bio-scientist Award 2016’ under ‘Young Category’.She, along with research, is passionate about teaching and participates in several teaching outreach programs. Presently, as a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, she teaches Immunology and Enzymology along with various topics on Infectious diseases.


Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee, Professor, Department of Biochemistry, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad

WBA Dr. Debasree Dutta Debasree Dutta, scientist at DBT-Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram, received her PhD in Life Science and Biotechnology from Jadavpur University in 2007. Her doctoral work resulted in the identification of novel nitrogen-fixing bacteria inhabiting a fermented tea used as health drink in different parts of Asia. From being a microbiologist, she evolved as a developmental biologist in due course of time.She started her independent career as Scientist C in the Department of Cancer Research Program in RGCB. Dr. Dutta’s research interests focus on understanding the molecular mechanism involved in different aspect of development and disease biology. As an independent faculty, she approached some basic but interesting questions completely new in the field of developmental biology. She started working on histone chaperones that are basic molecules of life coupled with overall metabolism of histones. For the first time, Dr. Dutta put forward the hypothesis that histone chaperones might regulate the course of cellular reprogramming. Her team reported that downregulation of histone chaperone APLF enhanced both the kinetics and efficiency in generation of induced pluripotent stem cells iPSCs from mouse embryonic fibroblasts. This report was the first of its kind. It focused on the fact how efficiency can be enhanced with a reduction in time required to form induced pluripotent stem cells. So, this mechanistic study would have an immense effect on the reprogramming field. Another interesting facet she focused on is the generation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). HSCs are generated from a special subset of endothelial cells, called hemogenic endothelium involving endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition. Dr. Dutta demonstrated for the first time that histone chaperone HIRA interacted with RUNX1, a transcription factor indispensible for this transition, incorporated H3.3 histone variant within enhancer elements, and regulated downstream targets of RUNX1 implicated in definitive hematopoiesis. This novel finding of HIRA-RUNX1 axis would open up a new approach in understanding leukemogenesis and could be exploited in deriving enriched engraftable quality of hematopoietic precursor in future. Dr. Dutta’s studies facilitated a better understanding of stem cell biology and related epigenetics. Among her earlier work, she discovered a novel pathway in regulating self-renewal of Embryonic Stem (ES) cells which was exploited by other pioneering scientist of stem cell field to create the naïve or ground-state quality of human ES cells which could be easily manipulated for regenerative medicine. So, her work stands out in an unique way that approaches both the theory of science and how to materialise that knowledge to make it a significant discovery in biotechnology. She has published 16 papers in peer reviewed high impact journals, and was granted one US patent. She has been the guest editor for special issues of different journals and reviewers in journals of high impact factor. She has contributed as the leading author to a book chapter. Eminently she has also received American Heart Postdoctoral fellowship. She received DST Fast track award and six extramural grants from DBT, DST and CSIR. She is also a Life member of Society of Biological Chemists, Indian Society of Developmental Biology. Indian Society of Cell Biology, Indian Association for Cancer Research, Kerala Academy of Sciences and Associate member of International Society for Stem Cell Research. She received the ‘National Women Bioscientist Award’ under the ‘Young Category’.


Dr. Debasree Dutta scientist at DBT-Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Thiruvananthapuram,


National Women Bioscientists Award 2015 Awardees


WBA Prof. Rentala Madhubala Prof. Rentala Madhubala, is a professor at the School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India. She was Former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Director, Human Resource Development Centre, Director, Advanced Instrumentations Research facility. She coordinated a major “Global Infectious diseases training program” supported by the Fogarty International Centre of NIH, USA (2006-2012). Prof. Rentala has made several pivotal contributions to the understanding and identification of essential molecular targets for treating Kala-azar. Her findings have significant relevance in the development of newer drugs used for treatment of Kala-azar. Her major contribution has been identification of novel chemotherapeutic targets, development of diagnostic biomarkers for drug resistance, identification of novel anti-oxidant defense mechanisms in L. donovani and novel immunological targets leading to vaccine development. Her work provides a close-knit link between basic and applied research. She has also developed a “Method for treating leishmaniasis using methylcyclodextrin” (US PATENT No. 7186702). Prof. Rentala Madhubala is one of a select few women scientists who is an elected Fellow of all three science academies in the country as well as a Fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences, India, and The World Academy of Sciences (2016). She is a recipient of the J.C. Bose Fellowship (2011-present) and the President of India, Visitor Group Award (2016). She is also a recipient of American Society of Microbiology, International Professorship (2007). She received the prestigious Hari Om Trust JC Bose award from UGC (2004), Biotechnology Career award from Rockefeller foundation, USA (1993-1995). She was nominated as Affiliate Scientist, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, USA (2008). She is nominated as a Council Nominee on the Board of Governors of IIT Roorkee (2016-2019). She was elected member of the International Scientific Committee for World Congress on Leishmaniasis. She is also on the editorial board of several national and international journals of repute. She is a recipient of several international grants and has led a number of international projects. She has been conferred National Senior Women Bioscientists Award 2015 in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the field of molecular parasitology. Her pioneering work has led to development of remedies and control measures for Kala-azar, a major public health problem in parts of India. Her work provides a close-knit link between basic and applied research.


Prof. Rentala Madhubala School of Lifesciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, NEW DELHI

WBA Dr. Ashverya Laxmi Dr. Ashverya Laxmi has been working as a Staff Scientist at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research in New Delhi. She obtained her Ph.D in Plant Moleculer Biology from the University of Delhi South Campus in India. She did her postdoctoral research at University of Ohio, USA and Samuel Robert Nobel Foundation Oklahoma and joined NIPGR as a faculty in 2006. Dr. Ashverya Laxmi has done outstanding work in exploring signal transduction cross-talk between various environmental signals and endogenous cues like phytohormonesand its role in regulating plant growth, development, fitness and stress responses. She has characterized several light signaling mutants showing altered phytohormone sensitivity which helped her in defining the molecular nodes of signal transduction cross talk. She also illustrated the mechanism of sugar signal transduction and its interaction with various plant hormones such as auxin, cytokinin and brassinosteroid at whole genome level and its role in controlling various growth parameters such as seedling hypocotyl length, hypocotyl direction, root length, lateral root number and root growth direction in model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Dr. Laxmi has made commendable contribution in the field of light, hormone and sugar signaling. The knowledge she has generated can be exploited for enhancing the fitness and productivity of crop plants under natural environmental conditions. Dr. Laxmi has been honored by the Department of Biotechnology’s National Young Women Bioscientist Award 2015 for her work which has provided novel insights in understanding sugar signal transduction in plants.


Dr. Ashverya Laxmi, National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi,

WBA Dr. Kakoli Bose Dr. KAKOLI BOSE is an Assistant Professor and Scientific Officer ‘F’, at Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Tata Memorial Centre, Navi Mumbai, India. She received her Masters in Chemistry from Calcutta University, Kolkata and Ph.D. with full scholarship in Biochemistry from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, U.S.A. She did her postdoctoral research at TuftsNew England Medical Centre, Boston, U.S.A. in the Department of Biochemistry. Currently she is a faculty member of ACTREC since 2007. Dr. BOSE’s research has led to ground-breaking revelations toward understanding the mechanism of adapter-independent apoptosis. The role of procaspase-8 - FADD interaction in death inducing signalling complex (DISC) assembly has always been an unsolved mystery. Dr. Bose’s pioneering work in understanding the mechanism of this assembly and papillomavirus E2 –mediated novel adapter independent extrinsic cell death pathway has provided an enriching dimension to the field of apoptosis research. This study will certainly aid in devising innovative therapeutic approaches, which in conjunction with chemotherapeutic agents could potentially overcome the barrier of dose-limiting toxicity and resistance in cancer chemotherapy. Her studies on a proapoptotic serine protease HtrA2 and its homologs have provided a detailed mechanism of their complex mechanism of activation and led to identification of novel interacting partners. The crystal structure of a pathogenic variant of HtrA2 has also been solved for the first time thus unravelling structural basis of its implication in the disease. With these important discoveries, along with several modulator-based initiatives in the pipeline, Dr. Bose’s lab is paving its way toward translational research. Dr. Bose has published extensively in reputed scientific journals. She has edited a book entitled ‘Proteases in Apoptosis: Pathways, Protocols and Translational Advances,’ where she has contributed four chapters that have been published by Springer International. This book will not only help the scientific community working in the related field but also students and post-doctoral fellows in their coursework. She is the recipient of the prestigious Natalie Zucker Research Grant Award and EMBO Scholarship. She is the Principal Investigator on several grants funded by DBT and DST. She is also a life member of The Indian Biophysical Society and The Indian Association for Cancer Research. She is on the Editorial Board of the coveted Biochemical Journal, Portland Press, UK. Dr. Bose has been honored by the Department of Biotechnology with the National Women Bioscientists Award (Young Category) 2015 for her significant contribution in the field of programmed cell death and cancer research.


Dr. Kakoli Bose Advanced Centre for Treatment Research and Education in Cancer, Tata Memorial Centre, Navi Mumbai


National Women Bioscientists Award 2014 Awardees


WBA Prof. Nahid Ali, Prof Nahid Ali, an emeritus scientist at CSIR-Indian Institute Chemical Biology, received her PhD degree in Biochemistry from the University of Calcutta in 1985. She started her career as Scientist B in IICB where she held the post of Chief Scientist and Head of Infectious Diseases and Immunology Division before superannuation. Prof Ali’s research interests focus on understanding the immune mechanism of disease and protection to develop vaccines, immunotherapies, and diagnostics for kala-azar a potentially fatal disease endemic in certain regions in India. Her pioneering doctoral work resulted in a paradigm shift towards cationic liposomes as a vaccine adjuvant. Using this delivery system she embarked into the challenging field of developing a vaccine against leishmanial infection. Through the years she identified a number of novel antigens as vaccine candidates, and observed that resistance against experimental visceral leshmaniasis (VL) depended on a cocktail of immunoreactive polypeptides. She has now devised an MPL adjuvant liposome system for generation of cellular immunity essential for long-term protection. Prof. Ali was the first to observe a cytocidal activity of drug-free stearylamine-bearing liposome which functioned through abundant parasite-specific surface phosphatidylserine. This led to the development of efficient liposomal drugs, for sterile cure through single-shot treatment. Based on her expertise, Prof Ali utilized this unique mode of action of SA-bearing liposome to target cancer cells, effectively augmenting the efficacy of standard chemotherapeutic agents. Unravelling the enigma of immune suppression, her group demonstrated for the first time leishmanial antigen-specific secretion of suppressive cytokines, IL-10 and TGF-â, by regulatory T cells and their involvement in active VL, and reactivation after cure with PKDL. To develop a field adaptable diagnostic approach she and her associates developed a dipstick assay using leishmanial antigens for the diagnosis of VL and PKDL patients in India and Brazil. Recently, rapid diagnostic tests have been developed in her lab using serum and urine for diagnosis as well as test of cure for these diseases. She has published over 81 papers in peer reviewed high impact journals, and filed 11 patents of which two have been granted. She has been the Guest Editor for special issues of different journals, and Editor for Frontiers in Immunology. She has contributed as a co-author to a number of book chapters. In recognition of her contribution in the field of VL she was invited as one of the experts to discuss vaccine strategies in Brazil. Prof. Ali has been appointed Hub Leader from India for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases Project granted by the Global Challenges Research Fund, UK, to the University of Durham. Eminently she has also been elected fellow of all the prestigious Science Academies in India including National Academy of Sciences, Indian Academy of Sciences, Indian National Science Academy and J.C. Bose National Fellow. She received the top 10 Innovators Award from DST-Lockheed Martin for her dipstick technology for detection of Kala-azar. Internationally, she has been elected a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). She is also a Life member of Society of Biological Chemists, Indian Immunology Society, Indian Science Congress, Chemical Biology Society, and Molecular Immunology Forum. She received the ‘National Women Bioscientist Award’ under the ‘Senior Category’. Recently, she was selected for the INSA Senior Scientist Position, and has been declared a Raja Ramanna Fellow.


Prof. Nahid Ali, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata

WBA Dr. Chaaya Iyengar Dr. CHAAYA IYENGAR is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biotechnology, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), SAS Nagar, Punjab. She obtained her Masters in Biotechnology from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi and PhD in Biotechnology from Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh. She did her postdoctoral research at IMTECH Chandigarh and at National Cancer Institute, NIH, USA. She was Project Investigator in the DST Women Scientist Scheme (A) at IMTECH, Chandigarh and subsequently joined NIPER, SAS Nagar as faculty in 2008. Dr. IYENGAR’s research involves host-pathogen interactions in tuberculosis which identified that conserved pathogen proteins are essential for virulence. Due to their homology with human proteins, these remain undetected and hijack host mechanisms to appropriate critical resources and enhance infection. Iron acquisition is central to the survival of invading M.tuberculosis. A widely accepted concept was that invading bacilli acquire iron from the human iron carrier protein transferrin, via small molecules (siderophores). A key discovery from Dr. Iyengar’s laboratory was that M.tb, presents several evolutionarily conserved proteins on its surface where they moonlight as transferrin receptors. She discovered that one such molecule Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphatedehydrogenase can internalize transferrin into the cell. This provided a completely new perspective not only in terms of M.tb iron acquisition, but also revealed the occurrence of receptormediated uptake and trafficking of macromolecules into bacilli a phenomena that has never previously been reported in M.tb. Her laboratory is also the first to introduce the concept of Higher Order Moonlighting Behavior in biological macromolecules a novel concept in molecular management. Their research has also led to the development of an efficient system for high level expression of native functionally active recombinant M.tb proteins which could have applications in basic research, drug discovery and screening. Expression of M.tb proteins using this system is quantitatively and qualitatively superior as compared to previously available expression systems. Dr. IYENGAR has several publications in high impact international journals and is the recipient of several grants from ICMR, DBT and DST. Dr. IYENGAR has been honored by the Department of Biotechnology with the National Young Women Bioscientists Award 2014 for her significant contribution on virulence and iron uptake mechanisms in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and for the development of an expression system for M.tb proteins.


Dr. Chaaya Iyengar National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali

WBA Dr. Rupinder Kaur Dr. RUPINDER KAUR is a staff scientist and group leader at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad. She obtained her PhD degree from the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Panjab University, Chandigarh. She did her postdoctoral research at the Harvard Medical School, Boston, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA, and returned to India to join CDFD, Hyderabad as a faculty in 2006. Dr. Kaur’s research is aimed at delineating the strategies that an emerging human opportunistic human fungal pathogen Candida glabrata employs to acquire resistance to antifungals and survive antimicrobial environment of the mammalian host. Her work has identified novel fungal virulence determinants, and shown that virulence of C. glabrata is dependent on a coordinated interplay amongst many disparate pathogenicity determinants including aspartyl proteases, adhesins, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and iron transport machinery. Dr. Kaur has 27 publications to her credit. She is the recipient of the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Senior Fellowship and the Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award. She is a member of the Editorial Board of ‘Journal of Biosciences’ and ‘Microbial Cell’. She is also a member of the Reviewer Board of the journal ‘Microbiology’ for the period from 01/01/2016 to 01/01/2019. Dr. Kaur has been honored by the Department of Biotechnology with the National Young Women Bioscientist Award 2014 for her significant contributions to the field of fungal pathogenesis. Her major contributions include uncovering a link between environmental iron content and regulation of adhesin-encoding genes in C. glabrata, identifying chromatin remodeling as a central regulator of intracellular survival strategies, reporting an unexpected role for a GPI-linked aspartyl protease in intracellular pH maintenance, and demonstrating the pivotality of protein kinase Cmediated cell wall integrity signaling to transcriptional activation of multidrug efflux pumps, which is the most common mechanism of azole antifungal resistance in clinical settings.


Dr. Rupinder Kaur Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics , Hyderabad


National Women Bioscientists Award 2013 Awardees


WBA Dr. Mamta Chawla Sarkar Dr. Mamta Chawla-Sarkar is a Scientist in Division of Virology, ICMRNational Institute for Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata, West Bengal. She obtained her Master’s in Science from University of Calcutta and PhD in Microbiology from Bose Institute, Kolkata. She did her postdoctoral research at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio, USA and returned to India to join NICED as a faculty in 2006. Dr. Chawla-Sarkar’s lab is one among very few laboratories in India which studies basic aspects of virus replication and pathogenesis. Her research has led to identification of cellular genes /proteins which are modulated during Rotavirus infection, understanding the underlying mechanisms by which rotavirus and Influenza A viruses exploit cellular proteins for their propagation in the host cells. This research has implications in providing new targets for developing antiviral therapeutics. In field of applied research also, Dr. Chawla Sarkar has significant contributions towards viral disease surveillance in Eastern India. Her lab is the referral lab for Influenza virus and Rotavirus surveillance and laboratory services in eastern India. Dr. Chawla-Sarkar has more than 85 publications and two Book chapters to her credit, in peer-reviewed international journals in the area of Molecular biotechnology, Immunology, Biological Chemistry and Virology. She is the recipient of Fellowship of National Academy of Sciences in India (NASI) in 2013. Dr. Chawla-Sarkar has been honored by the Department of Biotechnology with the National Young Women Bioscientist’s Award 2013 for her significant contributions in understanding the dynamics of Host-pathogen interaction during Rotavirus infection.


Dr. Mamta Chawla Sarkar ICMR-National Institute for Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata

WBA Dr. Annapoorni Rangarajan Dr. Annapoorni Rangarajan did her Masters in Biochemistry from Nagpur University in 1994. She obtained her Ph.D. from the National Centre for Biological Sciences, TIFR, India (2001) for the research work on Understanding the Role of Notch signalingpathway in cervical cancers. As part of her Ph.D., she also carried out a project at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, USA,on the Role of Notch signalling in cell growth and differentiation. From 2001 to 2004, she undertook her post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Weinberg at the Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, USA, where her main focus was to understand the differences in mechanisms of carcinogenesis between mouse cells and human cells. In the year 2004, she moved to the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, where she took up a position of Assistant Professor at the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development, and Genetics. The primary focus of Dr.Rangarajan’s laboratory is to understand the origin and biology of cancer stem cells (CSCs) – the subpopulation within a cancer that is crucial for new tumorintiation and relapse – and to develop strategies to target them towards more effective cancer treatment.Her laboratory made a significant observation that the very transcription factors that mediate epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) during metastasis also promote ABC-transporters that confer drug-resistance to CSCs. This implies that targeting EMT transcription factors could be a novel strategy to curb both metastasis and associated drug-resistance. More recently, her laboratory has identified AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a bio-energetic stress-sensor, as a key regulator of anchorage-independent mammosphere growth, a key property of CSCs. She was awarded the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Fellowship in the year 2010 to pursue this work. By introducing specific “oncogene combination”, her laboratory converted ‘normal’ breast stem/progenitor cells into tumorigenic cells. Interestingly, a significant sub-population of these laboratorygenerated cancer cells harboredCSCs. Tumors initiated by these cells in test animals showed striking resemblance with naturally-arising breast adenocarcinomas encountered in the clinic.Her work, thus, lentearly experimental evidence to the provocative notion that solid tumors originate in adult stem cells.Her pioneering contribution to the emerging field of cancer stem cell biology earned her the National Junior Women Bioscientist Award (2013) by the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India.


Dr. Annapoorni Rangarajan, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

WBA Prof. Somdatta Sinha Prof. Somdatta Sinha from the Department of Biological Sciences, IISER Mohali, initiated her interdisciplinary studies in Biology as a scientist at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad since 1983. Her early work on small biochemical pathways (1987-88) was done far ahead of its time. Lying dormant till 2000, this paper is cited (even in 2013) as one of the earliest important paper in the field of biochemical engineering and gene circuits. Her most important contribution in ecological modeling has been to show that the “universality” in dynamics exhibited by certain types of population growth models breaks down under ecological processes (such as, migration). Prof. Sinha’s early theoretical and experimental studies on Hydra pattern formation forwarded the role of two inhibitor-activator systems and were acknowledged in the field. Her recent work on large-scale genome analysis showed very important signature of coevolution in HIV-human interactions. Her work on Malaria prevalence in India and development of a biologically realistic model that validates disease incidence data has important relevance to disease control. Prof. Somdatta Sinha, is one of the few women scientists who is an elected Fellow of all three Science Academies in the country. She is a recipient of the prestigious J.C. Bose Fellowship (2012). Her international recognitions include being elected a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Study, Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) in 2000, a Long Term Participant at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara, USA in 2003, and Senior International Fellow of the Santa Fe Institute, USA in 2009. Prof. Somdatta Sinha has been conferred the National Women Bioscientists Award (Senior) 2013 in recognition of her total contributions in developing the field of theoretical & computational biology in India, including her early work on biochemical pathways, recent work on modeling infectious disease genomes to populations and her contribution in developing interdisciplinary approaches in biological research, which has major impact on development of the new field in India.


Prof. Somdatta Sinha, Indian Institute of Science Education Research, Mohali


National Women Bioscientists Award 2012 Awardees


WBA DR. SAMAN HABIB Dr. SAMAN HABIB is a Senior Principal Scientist in the CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. She obtained her Masters from Delhi University and Ph.D. from the National Institute of Immunology (JNU). She joined CSIR-CDRI as an independent scientist in 1998 and has been working there since then. Dr. Habib’s work has contributed to the molecular and biochemical understanding of processes in the malaria parasite mitochondrion and apicoplast (a relict plastid), dissection of the mechansim of DNA replication and organization of the Plasmodium apicoplast genome, determination of the translational status of the apicoplast providing rationale for the use of prokaryotic translation inhibitors against malaria, and elucidation of the organellar translation machinery revealing unique features and important evolutionary perspectives. Her group has explored and provided insights into the role of host genetic factors, particularly polymorphisms in human host molecules involved in adhesion, rosetting and invasion of the malaria parasite in susceptibility/resistance to severe falciparum malaria in areas of differential disease endemicity in India. Dr. Habib’s work has been published in prestigious journals. She serves as coordinator of the parasitic diseases programme at CDRI. She was part of an international multi-centre effort (project Mephitis, funded by the European Commission) to target the translation machinery in the cytoplasm and apicoplast of Plasmodium and served on the Expert Advisory Group of the European Union’s CRIMALDDI (Coordination, Rationalization and Integration of Anti-Malarial Drug Discovery Initiatives) project. Dr. Habib has been honored by the Department of Biotechnology with the National Young Women Bioscientists Award 2012 for her significant contribution in the field of malaria biology that has established parasite organellar processes and proteins as viable targets for drug intervention, as well as elucidation of the role of genetic variation in immune regulatory and adhesion molecules of the human host to disease pathogenesis in malaria-affected Indian populations.


DR. SAMAN HABIB CSIR- Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow

WBA Dr. Nandini Chatterjee Singh Dr. Nandini Chatterjee Singh is a professor at the National Brain Research Centre in Manesar in Haryana. She obtained her Ph.D in Physics from the University of Pune in India. She did her postdoctoral research at University of California in Berkeley, USA and returned to join NBRC as a faculty in 2002. Dr. Chatterjee Singh has been pivotal in starting a programme on Educational Neuroscience both at NBRC and DST. Using brain imaging methods, Dr. Singh’s research has revealed different strategies used by the brain to read. Specifically her work has demonstrated how letter-sound mapping of different writing systems impacts neural processes involved in reading. Her research has also provided new insights on how age of acquisition and proficiency differentially modulate language and reading development. This has not only enabled optimal design of primary school curricula but also help identify children with dyslexia at school. This research has also had significant clinical implications. It has also led to the development Dyslexia Assessment for Languages of India (DALI). DALI contains the first standardized and validated tools in Indian languages for school teachers to screen and clinical psychologists to assess dyslexia. Dr. Singh has been honoured by the Department of Biotechnology’s National Young Women Bioscientist Award 2012 for her work which has provided novel insights in understanding how the brain learns to read in the complex multiliterate school environment of India


Dr. Nandini Chatterjee SINgh National Brain Research Centre Manesar, Haryana

WBA Previous Years National Women Bioscientists Awardees Awardees for the year 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Awardees for the year 2008 National Senior Women Bioscientists Award 1.

Prof. Vijaylakshmi Ravindranath, NBRC, Gurgaon

National Young Women Bioscientists Award 1. 2.

Dr. Sharmila Avadhut Bapat, NCCS, pune Dr. Subha Tole Mukerji, TIFR, Mumbai

Awardees for the year 2009 National Senior Women Bioscientists Award 1.

Prof. Suniti Solomon, Y.R. C. AIDS, Chennai

National Young Women Bioscientists Award 1. 2.

Dr. (Mrs.) Rita Singh, DRDO, Jodhpur Dr. Suparna Mukherji, IIT, Bombay

Awardees for the year 2010 National Senior Women Bioscientists Award 1.

Prof. Madhuri Behari, AIIMS, New Delhi

National Young Women Bioscientists Award 1. 2.

Prof. Premila Abraham, CMC, Vellore Dr. Sneha Sudha komath, JNU, New Delhi

Awardees for the year 2011 National Senior Women Bioscientists Award 1.

Dr. Chitra Mandal, IICB, Kolkata

National Young Women Bioscientists Award 1.

Dr. Maneesha S. Inamdar, JNCASC, Bangalore


Dr. Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, ISI, Kolkata


Prof. Rinti Banerjee, IIT, Bombay


Dr. B. S. Lakshmi, Anna University, Chennai