Sangita Mukhopadhyay is a Staff Scientist and Group leader of laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology at Centre for DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics, Hyderabad. Dr. Mukhopadhyay, received her Ph.D from Utkal University in 1998. She did her PhD at the Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Bhubaneswar, India on Life Science on her work Filariasis and designing of immunotherapeutics. Later, as a post-doctoral fellow at the National Institute of Immunology, and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Texas, USA she worked on basic immunology on macrophage signaling pathway and regulation of T cell activation and functions
Academic and Research Achievements: Development of effective therapeutics and vaccines against tuberculosis (TB) has been one of the priority areas of global biomedical research, including India. Current TB drugs and vaccine are not sufficient to control mainly the multi-drug and total drug resistant bacteria. Identification of suitable drug targets and candidate TB vaccines is therefore crucial to control the TB menace. In this regard, Dr. Mukhopadhyay made seminal contributions to understand how some of the cardinal signaling pathways in host are hijacked by the tuberculosis pathogen to downregulate host protective immune responses that are required to prevent successful establishment of tuberculosis. This basic research laid an excellent foundation for carrying out further translational research to design better drugs and therapeutic interventions to treat tuberculosis patients. Her research work fetched application of one international patent in tuberculosis research and publications in several top-tier peer reviewed International journals.
Dr. Mukhopadhyay described functions of some of the unique PE/PPE family members of M. tuberculosis which had apparently no known biological functions. She implicated crucial roles played by at least two PE/PPE family proteins in M. tuberculosis pathogenesis and can be considered potent drug targets (US Patent granted in December 10, 2013; Ann N Y Acad Sci.1283:97]). Continuing research to understand pathogenesis of tuberculosis and implementation of therapeutics, she showed that excessive free radical generated in our body due to chronic infection like tuberculosis or other pathophysiological disorders, can directly hamper our protective immune response by inhibiting the Interleukin-12 induction and T-helper 1 T cell response. Thus, Dr. Mukhopadhyay's work provides novel angle that will be helpful in designing additional strategies for activation of immune response to cure and prevent a large spectrum of diseases where higher levels of free radical molecules are generated as a result of chronic oxidative stress.
In the area of tuberculosis diagnosis, Dr. Mukhopadhyay demonstrated that the PPE protein Rv1168c displays stronger and specific immunoreactivity against the sera obtained from clinically active tuberculosis (TB) patients compared to PPD, ESAT-6 and hsp60 and could differentiate TB-patients from the BCG-vaccinated controls.
Other Contributions: She is a Committee member of DBT Task Force on Infectious Disease Biology, She served as External examiner for PhD thesis and JRF/SRF upgradation at various Central/ State Universities and Institutes, member of Research Progress Committee of Nirma University, Ahmedabad, Gujrat. She is a peer reviewer of various National and International journals and reviewed many National and International grant proposals (DBT and DST, Govt of India; National Science Center, Poland).
Awards and Honors: Dr. Mukhopadhyay has been recognized by many prestigious bodies with awards such as ‘National Scholarship’ by Ministry of Education, Govt. of India (1988-1990), Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund award for Academic Excellence (1993), Apeeza Trust Award’ by Indian Immunology Society, 1996; Best Young Scientist Award, 1997; DST Young Scientist Award 2003; Third World Women Scientist Grant Award, Italy, 2003; Young Women Bioscientists of Promise Award by Indian Science Congress Association, 2004; DBT Overseas Associateship Award, 2005; National Young Woman Bioscientist Award, 2007 by DBT; Elected member of American Society of Hematology (ASH), USA, 2008 National Bioscience Award for Career Development, 2008’ by DBT; Kshanika Oration award, 2009 and Basanti Devi Amir Chand Prize, 2011 by ICMR, and Elected Membership (regular) from ‘American Society of Hematology (ASH), USA and The American Association of Immunologists (AAI), USA, 2010’ and Elected Fellow of ‘The National Academy of Sciences of India (NASI), Allahabad, 2010’, ‘The Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, 2013’, .