Tezpur University’s department of molecular biology and biotechnology faculty member, Ashis K Mukherjee has received the highest academic degree Doctor of Science (DSc) in the field of biotechnology from the University of Calcutta for his contribution in snake venom research and snakebite therapy.
The award was conferred to him by the West Bengal governor and chancellor Keshri Nath Tripahty at the annual convocation of the university held recently.
Mukherjee is among the few notable scientists who have been pursuing research in exceedingly specialized but neglected area of snake venom from the past 24 years. He received PhD in 1998 from Burdwan University for his work on biochemical characterization of cobra and Russell’s viper venom.
Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease effecting rural population of Indian subcontinent where more than 1,00,000 deaths are recorded per year. India has rich range of snake fauna, out of which only 242 species have been identified that include 57 venomous species of snakes. The four major species of venomous snakes ubiquitous in India, famously known as “Big four” are considered responsible for life-threatening envenomation around the country. These include- Indian cobra (Naja naja), the common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), the Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii) and the saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus).
In Assam, Naja kouthia and Bungarus faciatus are two predominant neurotoxic snakes against which anti-venom is not available.
The research contribution of Mukherjee is expected to significantly improve the current status of people’s knowledge on the pathophysiology and the mechanism of action of several novel/previously uncharacterized toxins of snake venoms.
Mukharjee has also pinned down the problems associated with commercial anti-venom and suggested measures for improving the quality and efficacy of anti-venom for the betterment of snakebite treatment. Further, his group has also discovered novel/superior peptide-based therapeutic molecules, better than the commercial drugs, from the underexplored snake venom.
Earlier, Mukherjee has received several national as well as international awards and medals such as ISCA Young scientist award, National Bioscience and CREST awards from DBT, BOYSCAST fellowship from DST, and Best Researchers Award from TU for his academic and research excellence.