JNCASR Scientists wins Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize
- Professor T Govindaraju has received this prestigious award for his ground-breaking concepts and discoveries, which have significant potential for diagnosis and treatment for Alzheimer’s, lung cancer among other health problems.
- Professor Kanishka Biswas, currently working as an Associate Professor at (JNCASR), has received the prize for his discoveries in the field of solid-state inorganic chemistry and thermoelectric energy conversion.
Prof. Govindaraju’s has discovered a novel drug candidate molecule (TGR63), which effectively reduces the burden of toxic protein aggregation species called amyloid in the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease and reverses cognitive decline in animal models.
- A pharmaceutical company has picked this molecule for clinical trials, which shows excellent promise to treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
- His pioneering work on molecular tools selectively detect Alzheimer’s disease and differentiate it from other neurodegenerative diseases.
- Prof. Govindaraju has also set up a company – VNIR Biotechnologies Pvt Ltd (https://vnir.life/)- to develop NIR, PET, and retina-based platforms for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
- His interest in understanding the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and cancer resulted in the discovery of the first small molecule-based drug candidate (TGP18) for lung cancer, one of the difficult types for early detection and treatment.
- Fascinatingly, this molecule can also function as a diagnostic tool and is one of the few molecules globally to be classified as “theranostic” (diagnostic therapy) candidate.
Professor Kanishka Biswas research involves a fundamental understanding of the relationship between structure and property of inorganic solids to develop lead (Pb)-free high-performance thermoelectric materials, which can efficiently convert waste heat to energy and are being translated into cost-effective technologies.
- Using fundamental and insightful chemical principles, he has achieved an unprecedented thermoelectric performance through control of atomic ordering and consequent electronic state delocalization in a crystalline inorganic solid, simultaneously enhancing its electronic transport and reducing the thermal conductivity, which was published in Science journal this year.
- His innovative strategies to tune the thermoelectric properties with chemical bonding hierarchy, ferroelectric instability, and rattling atoms in a class of chemical compounds called metal chalcogenides have advanced the frontiers of inorganic solid-state chemistry introducing new paradigms.
- Nearly 65% of all utilized energy gets irreversibly dissipated as waste heat.
- It is a dream to have an inorganic solid that recovers electricity efficiently from the wasted heat, which can then be reused to power our electronic gadgets, home appliances, vehicles and small industrial equipment.
- Thermoelectric materials discovered by Kanishka Biswas can directly and reversibly convert waste heat into electricity, and it will play a significant role in future energy management.
- Further, the thermoelectric energy conversion does not emit any hazardous gas like CO or CO2.
- Thereby, high-performance thermoelectric materials made in Prof. Biswas’ laboratory will be beneficial in waste heat to electrical energy conversion in power plants like thermal, steel, chemical and nuclear; automobiles, space missions to chulas in rural India.
The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology (SSB)
- It is a science award in India given annually by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for notable and outstanding research, applied or fundamental, in biology, chemistry, environmental science, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and Physics.
- The prize recognizes outstanding Indian work (according to the view of CSIR awarding committee) in science and technology.
- The award is named after the founder Director of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar.
- Any citizen of India engaged in research in any field of science and technology up to the age of 45 years is eligible for the prize.
- The prize comprises a citation, a plaque, and a cash award of ₹5 lakh (US$7,000). In addition, recipients also receive Rs. 15,000 per month up to the age of 65 years.
- It was first awarded in 1958.