Asis Datta acquired his PhD and DSc degrees in Biochemistry from Calcutta University. After spending several years in USA (1968-1973) as post-doctoral Research Fellow, Datta started his professional career in 1973 at School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and ascended to the position of Professor (1978). Datta performed admirably at JNU as Dean, School of Life Sciences (1983-85), Rector (1993-96) and as Vice-Chancellor (1996-2002). He was awarded DSc (hc) in 2002, 2004 and 2008, respectively, from the University of Burdwan, Bidhan Chandra Agricultural University and Vidyasagar University, respectively. He was the first Director of National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi. At present, he is Professor of Eminence of NIPGR and also an Emeritus Professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Datta has researched and taught at many internationally respected institutions. He has been making contributions in basic and applied biochemistry and molecular biology for more than three decades. He has done pioneering work in the field of molecular biology. Datta is particularly, known for his work on the pathogenic yeast, Candida albicans as a model system, which opened up the possibility of designing a therapy to combat candidiasis. His research contributions have been vital in areas of food / nutritional security and use of genetically modified food. His group is known for the pioneering contributions in molecular biology and identification and manipulation of novel genes leading to the production of transgenics of high societal value. In fact, his group received US patent for genes first time in India. Professor Datta and his team linked New Biology with agriculture, medicine, science, industry and society to make a global partner in biotechnology. Professor Datta has mentored around 45 PhD students and several trainees.
Other Contributions: As Vice-Chancellor of JNU, Professor Datta created several new schools and centres. Professor Datta was the Founder Director of National Institute of Plant Genome Research (2002-08). In addition to professorial assignments, Datta provided leadership in development programmes in education and in science and technology of enormous importance to India. His relentless effort throughout has established a vibrant school of research on "structure-function-application" of eukaryotic genes, which led to the establishment of the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, India's first and only one research Institute of its kind. Datta was Member of INSA council during 2002-04.
Awards and Honours: Professor Asis Datta received several prestigious awards such as: SS Bhatnagar Award (1980); Guha Memorial Award (1988); Sir Amulya Rattan Oration Award (1988); First GD Birla Award (1991); Dr Nitya Anand Endowment Award of INSA (1993); FICCI Award (1994); Om Prakash Bhasin Award (1995); TWAS Award (1996); Goyal Prize (1996); Ranbaxy Award (1996); Padma Shri (1999); Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture (1999) of INSA; Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award (2000); RD Birla Award (2001); Dr BR Ambedkar Centenary Award of ICMR (2003); and Bashambar Nath Chopra Memorial Lecture Award of INSA (2004). He was awarded Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Award of Indian Science Congress (2005) and also honoured with the Life Time Achievement Award of Indian Science Congress (2006). He was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India (2008). He is a Fellow of Academy of Sciences for Developing World (TWAS), Indian Academy of Science, Bangalore and National Science Academy (India), Allahabad. Datta was the General President of Indian Science Congress Association (2003-04).