Samaresh Mitra earned his BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Gorakhpur, UP. He then joined Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata (1962) and worked in the area of crystal magnetism with Akhyananda Bose to obtain his DPhil degree (1966). He worked as post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne (1966-70). In 1970, he returned to India and joined Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. After retirement (2003) from TIFR as Senior Professor, he joined Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata, as a Raja Ramanna Fellow. He continues to be at IICB as an INSA Honorary Scientist since 2008. In between he has held several research and teaching positions, notably at University of Oxford, Oxford; Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Australian National University and Monash University, Melbourne.
Academic and Research Achievements: Mitra's research work falls broadly into two areas - first, in the area of magnetic and electronic properties of inorganic materials, notably metal phthalocynines and metal porphyrins, where his work led to the discovery of first molecular ferromagnet and established hitherto unknown electronic structures in these materials. His work also demonstrated the utility of single crystal magnetic properties in determining electronic structures of low symmetry systems, which was not known till then. He addressed the electronic structural properties of low molecular weight synthetic models, which included biologically significant systems such as hemes and porphyrins, and demonstrated the utility of single crystal magnetic studies in understanding the biological functions of heme proteins/enzymes. The studies led to functionally closest models for some heme proteins, particularly of peroxidases and hemoglobins. Since 1986, Mitra moved to the study on metal enzymes and proteins, and addressed a several key issues relating to enzyme-substrate interaction and molecular recognition, drug metabolism and catalytic functions of enzymes like peroxidases, cytochrome P 450 and xanthine oxidase. These studies have led to the resolution of some of the key issues in their metabolic and catalytic pathway. He has published over 140 research papers and written seven chapters in books/volumes.
Other Contributions: Professor Mitra set up an internationally recognized bioinorganic chemistry laboratory at TIFR. He initiated a 4-yearly international conference series in bioinorganic chemistry, now a major international event in this field. He was instrumental on starting the biannual conference in the area of inorganic chemistry (MTIC) in 1985, which has become a very successful national event since then. He has been Member of several committees of DST, CSIR, UGC, and national academies. He has served on the Editorial Board of several chemistry journals including International Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. Professor Mitra was also involved in the development of education and teaching at the school level.
Awards and Honours: Samaresh Mitra was awarded SS Bhatanagar Prize (1983), S Swaminathan 60th Birthday Commemoration Lecture of INSA (1998), C Natarajan Endowment Medal by Madurai Kamraj University (1998), Silver Medal by the Chemical Research Society of India (2002) and DS Kothari Memorial Gold Medal by Indian Science Congress (2005). He was elected to a Visiting Faculty Position at St John College of Oxford University (1986). He is a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad.