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Asima Chatterjee was the first Indian woman to hold a doctorate. Wikimedia Commons

Asima Chatterjee was an organic chemist noted for her work in organic chemistry and phytomedicine. She also authored a considerable volume of work on medicinal plants, also she was the first woman to receive a Doctorate of Science from an Indian university. On 23rd September 2017 (her 100th birth anniversary), Google honoured her with a Google doodle.

Here are 11 facts about Asima Chatterjee you must know:

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1. Asima Chatterjee’s research primarily focused on the medicinal properties of Indian plants and contributed to developing drugs that treated epilepsy and malaria.

2. One of her most esteemed discoveries came in the field of vinca alkaloids which are used in chemotherapy today.

3. Her achievements won her many prestigious accolades including received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (1961) and the Padma Bhushan (1975) – one of the highest civilian awards bestowed by the Indian government.

4. In 1944, she was appointed as an Honorary Lecturer in Chemistry, Calcutta University. In 1947, she worked with L.M. Parks University of Wisconsin, USA.

Calcutta University became her permanent address until her death in 2006. Wikimedia Commons

5. Asima Chatterjee was appointed Reader in the Department of Pure Chemistry, Calcutta University in 1954. It also became her permanent address until her death.

6. In 1962, Asima Chatterjee became the 10 Khaira Professor of Chemistry, one of the most prestigious and coveted Chairs of the Calcutta University which she adorned till 1982 and was the first woman scientist to adorn a chair of any
University in India.

7. In 1975, she became the first woman to be appointed the general president of the Indian Science Congress.

8. Asima Chatterjee also established a Regional Research Institute for carrying out research on Indian medicinal plants for the development of Ayurvedic drugs along with an Ayurvedic Hospital for systematic clinical trials through a unique Centre-State collaboration, under the aegis of the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha in Salt Lake City, Kolkata.

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9. Asima Chatterjee developed the anti-epileptic drug, Ayush-56 from Marsilia minuta, also the anti-malarial drug from Alstonia scholaris, Swrrtia chirata, Picrorphiza kurroa and Ceasalpinna crista. These patented drugs have been marketed by several companies.

10. Chatterjee had published 400 papers in national and international journals. Her publications are extensively cited and most of her work is included in several textbooks.

11. It is said that she developed the interest in medicinal plants because of her father, Dr Indra Narayan Mukherjee, a medical man cum amateur.


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