A Tribute to Asima Chaterjee on the 100th Anniversary of Her Birth

Dimitrios Vassiliadis

Asima_Chatterjee-wikiAsima Chaterjee
(23 September  1917 – 6 November 2006) was born in Bengal and grew up in Kolkata (former Calcutta). She graduated from the University of Calcutta with honors in chemistry in 1936 and  received a Doctorate of Science there in 1944. She was the second woman after Janaki Ammal to be conferred Doctorate of Science by an Indian University.

She served as a Professor of Chemistry in the University of Calcutta from 1962 to 1982 and  in 1975 she became the first lady scientist to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress Association.

Her research contributed to developing drugs that treated epilepsy and malaria. However, her most notable work came in the field of vinca alkaloids, which are used today in chemotherapy to slow down cancer cells from being multiplying.

Dr Asima Banerjee was conferred the D Sc (Honoris causa) degree by a number of universities in India and abroad as well as several scientific and civil awards like the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in 1961 and the Padma Bhushan in 1975.   In 1982 she was nominated by the President of India as a Member of the Rajya Sabha and she kept this position until 1990.

She was married with Dr. Baradananda Chatterjee, and had one daughter. She passed away in 2006 in  Kolkata at the age of 90.