Chhitar Mal Gupta earned his BSc and MSc degrees from Rajasthan University, Jaipur (Rajasthan), after which he joined the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow to work in the area of medicinal chemistry under the supervision of Dr Nitya Nand to obtain his PhD degree (1969) from Agra University, Agra. After serving as a post-doctoral Fellow for a brief period, he was taken up on the scientific staff of CDRI. He undertook post-doctoral training, first at the Institute of Molecular Biology, Syntex Research, Palo Alto, CA (1973-75) and then at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA (1975-78). He was one of the very early post-doctoral students of Professor H Govind Khorana who initiated his work on structure and function of membrane proteins. On returning to India in 1978, he again joined CDRI. He was appointed as the Director of Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh (1992) and then again moved to CDRI as its Director (1997) from where he superannuated (2007). Presently, he is working as Distinguished Biotechnology Fellow at CDRI.
Academic and Research Contributions: Dr Gupta extensively worked on the mechanisms that maintain the transbilayer phospholipid asymmetry in biological membranes. He was the first to demonstrate that phospholipids-phospholipid interactions play no role in maintaining the phospholipids asymmetry. Instead, this asymmetry is maintained by interactions of inner layer phospholipids with the underlying cytoskeletal proteins in association with the out-to-in aminophospholipid pump. In addition, his work on development of methods for selective targeting of drug-loaded liposomes to the specific population of blood cells helped selectively to home anti-leishmanial or anti-tubercular drugs to macrophages, and antimalarial drugs to malaria-infected red cells. Currently, his work is focused on elucidation of structure and function of actin-based cytoskeleton in trypanosomatid parasites, especially, Leishmania. He has published over 130 research articles and mentored about 35 PhD students and 5 post-doctoral Associates.
Others Contributions: Dr Gupta set up the Department of Membrane Biology at CDRI which has been subsequently transformed to a very vibrant Department of Molecular and Structural Biology. As Director, IMTech, he made the institute a Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology and Protein Chemistry, and as Director, CDRI, he transformed the institute into a modern drug research laboratory. He has served on several national and international committees, such as National Pharma Committee, National Drug Development Board, National Medical Biotechnology Board, WHO Steering Committee, ICSU International Committees, etc. He was also the President of Society of Biological Chemist (India). He has been on the Editorial Board of several journals. He served as Council Member (2000-01) and Vice-President of INSA (2002).
Awards and Honours: Dr Gupta received INSA Medal for Young Scientists (1974); the SS Bhatnagar Prize (1985); Ranbaxy Research Foundation Award (1985); Nitya Nand Endowment Lecture Award (1989) and Golden Jubilee Commemoration Medal (2001) of INSA; FICCI Award (1994-95); Om Prakash Bhasin Award (1999); Goyal Prize (2000). He Gupta is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS); Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad; and National Medical Science Academy, India.