National honour for two scientists
Ascientist from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) is among the winners of Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Young Scientists Awards for discovering new methods to synthesise ‘compounds’ called heterocycles in an eco-friendly manner.
Chandra Volla, Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry (IIT-B), who heads the research on ‘green chemistry’, said the award will boost the team’s morale. His lab has devised methods to synthesise heterocycles in fewer steps, which are eco-friendly. Heterocycles are used widely in pharmaceutical industry and constitute 55% of most drugs approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are major constituents of industrial dyes as well.
“With every step to create heterocyclic compounds, there are waste hazardous products like acids and salts that are generated and they are highly toxic,” said Dr Volla. “By reducing the number of steps, we are reducing the amount of waste materials generated. Our work has applications in pharmaceutical industries for preparing heterocycles in an ecofriendly way.”
Dhananjay Huilgol, a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, also won INSA award for his PhD work on ‘developmental neuroscience’ at the city-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). Huilgol discovered a set of neurons in mice that migrate from one part of the forebrain to another. These neurons eventually make a section of ‘accessory olfactory bulb’ of the brain, a part responsible for defence and aggression. He also discovered another set of neurons that migrate from one part to another to form amygdala, a region in the brain that controls feeding behaviour. “The way the mouse brain is built is very similar to the way the human brain is built, including the genes that control it. The work in future may help in understanding the basis of eating disorders such as Bulimia and a disorder called anosmia where a person loses the ability to smell,” Huilgol said.
Prof Chandra Volla
Dr Dhananjay Huilgol