Asima Chatterjee is an Indian organic chemist, noted for her work in the fields of phytomedicine. Her most notable achievements include her research on vinca alkaloids, the development of anti-epileptic drugs and anti-malarial drugs.
Born in India on the 23rd September 1917 and the eldest of two siblings, she shared her father’s love for medicine and was encouraged to continue her studies of it in later life. In 1936 she graduated from the Scottish Church College of the University Calcutta with honours in Chemistry. Gaining a masters degree in 1938 and a doctoral degree in 1944 in organic chemistry, she was the first Indian woman to earn a doctorate in science.
Chatterjee’s research concentrated on the natural products of chemistry which led her to find several working medicinal drugs for human use. Her phenomenal contributions were recognised globally and have won her various awards and accolades from all over the world.
In 1975 she became the first woman to be appointed general president of the Indian Science Congress. She won several prestigious awards, such as the P.C. Ray award and was nominated to the upper house of parliament. She was also a highly commended writer and published 400 papers on medicinal plants in India.
Asima Chatterjee passed away on the 22nd November 2006 as one of the most respected organic chemists of her time.
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This piece was written by work experience, Sophie.
Last updated July 2020.