Woman scientist nominated for Swarnajayanti fellowship

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Jyotirmayee Dash, associate professor at the Department of Organic Chemistry, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Jadavpur, Kolkata has been nominated for the prestigious Swarnajayanti fellowship award instituted by the Department of Science and Technology for the year 2015-16.

She is the only woman scientist among the 11 nominated for the fellowship this year. Dr. Dash has received the award in the chemical science discipline. Dr. T. Govindaraju from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru is the other person who has been nominated in the same discipline.

Dr. Kausik Chakraborty from the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi and Dr. Dasaradhi Palakodeti from the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, NCBS, Bengaluru have been nominated in the life sciences discipline.

While Dr. Santanu Misra from IIT Kanpur is nominated in the earth and atmospheric science, and Dr. Prahladh Harsha from TIFR in the mathematical discipline, three scientists have been nominated in physical science — Dr. Goutam Sheet from IISER, Mohali, Dr. Sanjit Mitra from IUCAA, Pune, and Dr. Rajesh Ganapathy from JNCASR, Bengaluru. In engineering, Dr. Debdeep Mukhopadhyay from IIT Kharagpur and Dr. Vijay Natarajan from IISc have been nominated.

The award comprises financial support of Rs. 25,000 per month for five years. In addition to the fellowship, the nominated scientists are provided grants for equipment and other facilities.

Dr. Dash’s research group works on the synthesis of natural products, the self-assembly of nucleobases, recognition and the regulation of nucleic acids. “My group intends to synthesise small drug molecules that selectively bind to DNA secondary structures and regulate oncogene expression. The small drug molecules have the potential to be anticancer agents,” says Dr. Dash. “We also intend developing membrane channels that can deliver small drug molecules to cancer cells.”

Dr Dash received her Ph.D from IIT Kanpur. She was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship with Prof. H.U. Reissig, Freie University, Berlin; a postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. J. Cossy, ESPCI, Paris and a Marie Curie fellowship with Prof. S. Balasubramanian, University of Cambridge. She then joined the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research – Kolkata as an assistant professor in 2009. She has also worked as a visiting fellow with Professor S. Mann, University of Bristol.