Poonam Salotra received B.Sc. (Hons) degree from Delhi University, M.Sc. (Biochemistry) from P.G.I., Chandigarh and Ph.D. from Delhi University, while working at V.P. Chest Institute on regulation of glucose metabolism in lung, under the supervision of Dr Vishwa Nath Singh. She did postdoctoral research at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, New Jersey, U.S.A., where she studied the mechanism of action of Cholera toxin. Upon returning to India, she worked at the Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai and susequently at the Centre for Biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Later she joined the National Institute of Pathology (ICMR), New Delhi , where she initiated work on clinical and basic aspects of leishmaniasis.
Academic and Research Achievements: While at Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, she worked on the molecular mechanism of action of cholera toxin and established the site of ADP-ribosylation in the active subunit of the toxin. Her pioneering research for the last 25 years has been in the fields of genomics, vaccines, diagnostics and mechanism of drug resistance in Visceral Leishmaniasis(VL) and Post Kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis(PKDL). She applied functional genomics for mapping virulence genes as vaccine/ drug targets and unraveled novel ubiquitin-like pathway in parasitic protozoa. Attenuated gene knock-out mutants developed as vaccine candidates are under pre-clinical studies. Drug resistance studies with antimony and miltefosine yielded new insights into mechanisms operative in Indian field isolates. She established molecular tests for non-invasive diagnosis and assessment of cure of VL and PKDL. Her studies yielded fundamental understanding of the immunopathogenesis of VL, PKDL and cutaneous leishmaniasis. She has authored more than 120 research articles and book chapters and also mentored 18 PhD students. She also has 2 US and 2 Indian patents to her credit.
Other contributions: She serves as a member of WHO Advisory Panel on lParasitic Diseases. She is also a meber of RTAG, SEARO, WHO and the International PKDL Consortium. Her lab is recognized as WHO referral centre for confirmatory diagnosis and species identification of VL and PKDL.
Awards and honours: Dr Salotra has won several awards, notably JC Bose Fellowship, Drs. Kunti and Om Prakash Oration Award (2014), Basanti Devi Amir Chand Award, ICMR (2006), BK Aikat Award, ICMR (2004), Excellent Research output Award, ICMR (2004) and Kshanika Oration Award for Eminent Woman Scientist (2002). She received Silver Jubilee award by Indian Association of Medical Microbiology(2003). She won numerous fellowships including Bill & Melinda Gates Global Health Series awards (2017 & 2007), ICMR International fellowship for Senior Biomedical Scientists (2006), Courtesy Fellowship by CBER, FDA, USA (2005 & 2003), National Foundation of Infectious Diseases Fellowship, USA (2005). She is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, National Academy of Medical Sciences and The World Academy of Sciences.