Na­tional hon­our for two sci­en­tists

Chemical Industry Digest - - News & Views -

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

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