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Home / India News / 2007 / August / August 20, 2007
IIT Kharagpur Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award for Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants Director Dr. S.P.S Khanuja

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IIT Kharagpur Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award for Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants Director Dr. S.P.S Khanuja

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IIT Kharagpur Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award for Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants Director Dr. S.P.S Khanuja

New Delhi, Delhi, India

The Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award is a first of its kind India -Wide technical innovation Award instituted by IIT Kharagpur last year, was presented today to Dr S P S Khanuja, Director, Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants. His innovation comprises pioneering work in anti-malaria treatment through plant genotype development. Commemorating the spirit of its illustrious alumna Dr. Nina Saxena, the award is an attempt to encourage and promote technical innovation with a social development focus.

The Award had received 24 nominations from across countries. A 12-member jury of experts adjudged the nominations on the basis of innovativeness, applicability, and most importantly the potential of the application for social development with specific reference to backward areas in India.

Speaking on the occasion Professor Ajoy Chakraborty, Dean, Alumni Affairs IIT Kharagpur " Dr. Nina Saxena was a student of my department and apart from being an exceptionally bright student was dedicated towards alleviating poverty and boosting overall economic growth in India. This Award has kept her vision and philosophy of life intact by aptly recognizing the innovation of Dr. SPS Khanuja."

Dr Khanuja's research at the Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) is aimed at treating chloroquine-resistant or cerebral malaria. With the Indian pharmaceutical industry is currently dependent on imported artemisinin for treatment of this type of malaria, Dr Khanuja led the CIMAP research initiative, through a path-breaking molecular genetics approach, to improve the metabolic potential of Artemisia to synthesize this drug molecule. In this process, a DNA tagged super genotype 'CIM-Arogya' of Artemisia annua was achieved, with the resultant artemisinin content reaching a level of 0.8 per cent to 1.05 per cent. This drug yielding plant genotype developed through molecular breeding is a first for malaria treatment in India.

The initiative has another benefit - CIMAP scientists guided farmers to successfully cultivate Artemisia annua, which resulted in the generation of employment opportunities to the tune of about 150 work-days per hectare cultivation.

Presenting the award to the winner, Chief Guest Professor K L Chopra, who was formerly Director of IIT Kharagpur and is currently teaching at IIT Delhi, said: "The award-winning research exemplifies the best of scientific research. Its outcome is beneficial to those who receive its product and those who participate in its production. It is beneficial economically as well as in the area of healthcare. It scientifically optimizes the benefit of something that is grown naturally. I am proud to present the Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award to Dr S P S Khanuja, director of Central Institute of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants, for his revolutionary research."

The 12-member jury comprised of luminaries like Arjun Malhotra (CEO, Headstrong) , Shri B.K. Syngal (retd. CMD of VSNL) Parvati Deb (Director SUMMIT, Stanford University School of Medicine), Alka Rao (CEO of Alvari Systems, VC of computer Society of India, 2006), Prof. Madhusudan Chakraborty (Deputy Director, IIT KGP), Roy Da Silva (IIT Foundation, president) Dr. Akhil Sahai (senior Scientist HP Laboratories), Prof. M.K. Saxena (Retd. Prof. BIT Mesra, Nina's father).

About the Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award

A first of its kind, the Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award was instituted by IIT Kharagpur in 2006 to commemorate the memory of Nina Saxena, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur. It celebrates the spirit and memory of Dr. Nina Saxena, B.Tech (Hons.), ECE 1992, who passed away tragically in 2005. Nominations for the Award was open to all scientists of Indian origin. For more details visit http://www.ninasaxena.com

The Award is funded through an endowment of the Nina Saxena Memorial Fund. The fund is being collected through IIT Foundation (a non-profit organization and a US 501(c) organization).

About IIT Kharagpur

The oldest of the seven IITs, Indian Institute of Technology has always led the way in research and diversification of education. The Institute houses the maximum number of departments, schools and centres and some of these are unique to only IIT Kharagpur. This premiere education and research Institute is spread over a sprawling 2100 acres and is one of the greenest campuses in the nation. The Institute also has two other smaller campuses at Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. IIT Kharagpur strives to provide an environment of research and innovation and stresses on practical application of science and technology. The Institute also believes in maintaining a strong family bond with its alumni spread all over the globe. Nina Saxena was also a very distinguished alumna of the Institute. On the 57th Foundation Day, IIT Kharagpur salutes its founding fathers, students, faculty and staff, for making Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru's dream a reality. For further details visit http://www.iitkgp.ac.in

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indrani.roychoudhry@ipan.com romita.kumar@ipan.com

Source: IIT Kharagpur (Business Wire India)

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