SOCIETY FOR PLANT BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY
SOCIETY FOR PLANT BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY

N.B. Das Memorial Lecture

Dr. N. B.  DAS MEMORIAL LECTURE

Society initiated ‘Dr. N. B. Das Memorial Lecture’ in 1993 in the memory of renowned Biochemist late Prof. N. B. Das. (First Head of the Division of Biochemistry, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi).

About Dr. N. B. Das

Dr. N. B. Das (Nalin Bandhu Das) was born on June 1, 1908 in a family of jurists, educationists and physicians of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). He graduated in Honours in Chemistry from the Calcutta University. He then joined Bose Institute as researcher and later on served the Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works for a short term. In 1930s, on being awarded ‘The Lady Tata Memorial Scholarship’, he proceeded to Germany for higher studies. He was awarded the Doctorate degree for his fundamental research on the biochemistry of enzymes. His Ph.D. research has been quite frequently cited in the text books on enzymology.

 

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Dr. N. B. Das (Nalin Bandhu Das) was born on June 1, 1908 in a family of jurists, educationists and physicians of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). He graduated in Honours in Chemistry from the Calcutta University. He then joined Bose Institute as researcher and later on served the Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works for a short term. In 1930s, on being awarded ‘The Lady Tata Memorial Scholarship’, he proceeded to Germany for higher studies. He was awarded the Doctorate degree for his fundamental research on the biochemistry of enzymes. His Ph.D. research has been quite frequently cited in the text books on enzymology.

He had the privilege of working with two Nobel Laureates. Initially he was with Prof. Hans von Euler at the Biochemical Institute, University of Stockholm, Sweden. Here he worked extensively on the purification and characterization of enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism in animal system, especially with respect to cofactors/coenzymes, and on the role of ATP in the conversion of DPN to TPN. Later on, as ‘The Lady Tata Memorial Scholar’, he moved to the Institute of Medical Chemistry, University of Szeged, Hungary to work with Nobel Laureate Prof. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, to whom he considered his Guru. He carried out extensive studies on the inhibition of the succinic and lactic-malic dehydrogenases. His research work is widely cited in research papers and books.

After working for nearly 12 years in renowned laboratories abroad, Dr. Das returned back to India on the call given by Prof. P. C. Mahalanobis, the father of modern statistics in India. Patriotic feeling brought Dr Das home to use science and technology for the welfare of people. On his return, he joined the mother campus of Indian Veterinary Research Institute (then Imperial Institute of Veterinary Research) at Mukteswar to work on cattle vaccines and sera. Subsequently, in the year 1949, he joined the Division of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry at IARI as the first Biochemist where he established a Biochemistry Laboratory. This was the beginning of introducing and emphasizing the role of biochemistry in agriculture, especially with respect to the quality of food crops. Dr. Das was the first to study the nutritive quality of crops as influenced by variety, manures and fertilizers. From these studies, the first major recommendation that foliar application of urea and micro-nutrient elements enhances crop yield, was made in early 1950s.

Recognizing the importance of Agricultural Biochemistry in improving agriculture, a small Biochemistry Section in the Division of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry was transformed into the full-fledged Division of Biochemistry in November 1966, and its founding father Dr. N.B. Das was made the first Head of the Division. Biochemical research and education was tailored to meet the new challenges of Indian agriculture. New Post-Graduate courses were designed to impart skills in new technology that aimed at studying intermediary metabolism, molecular biology, enzymology and nutrition. The first batch of M.Sc. and Ph.D. students was admitted in the academic year 1967-68.

In the formative years, the major emphasis was given on the biochemical and biological evaluation of nutritional value of newly developed strains and varieties of food grains, effect of plant nutrients on nutritional value as well as yield of food grains, biochemical studies in nitrogen fixing bacteria, and utilization of agro-industrial wastes for the production of lysine as well as enzymes like cellulase and amylase. Under his leadership one of the finest facilities for doing outstanding research in plant biochemistry was built. The technique of PAGE was introduced for the characterization of soluble proteins and iso-enzymes. Dr. Das guided a number of M.Sc. and Ph.D. students from India and neighboring countries, who later went on to hold various responsible positions within and outside India.

After his superannuation in the year 1970, in recognition of his valuable contributions in the field of biochemistry and his distinct position as a biochemist in the country, he was made Emeritus Scientist by the ICAR.

Dr. N.B. Das was not only a renowned and most respected biochemist, but also an unassuming, quiet and noble gentleman, and his smiling face was characteristic of him. He personified what is best in Indian culture. His commitment to excellence in science was total. This great scientist left for his heavenly abode on 17th November, 1971. The Society for Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology decided to organize ‘Dr. N.B. Das Memorial Lecture’ to perpetuate his memory.

5th Dr. N.B. Memorial Lecture  (through virtual mode)

 

Speaker:  Dr. T. Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General (ICAR)
Dated : 21st November, 2020 

 

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About the speaker

Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra born on 20th April, 1962 at village Kharibil, Dist. Cuttack, Odisha, India. He obtained MSc and PhD in Genetics from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi. Dr Mohapatra is presently holding the position of Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education, and is also the Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Prior to this, he served as the Director of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, and the National Rice Research Institute (formerly CRRI), Cuttack, Odisha.

Dr Mohapatra contributed to the development of 12 varieties of rice and mustard including the long grain Basmati variety, Pusa Basmati 1121, and the first high-protein rice variety, CR Dhan 310. Dr Mohapatra has been recipient of several honors and awards recognizing his academic and research contributions, including the INSA Young Scientist Award, Prof LSS Kumar Memorial Award, NAAS-Tata Award, IARI-BP Pal Award, DBT Bio-science Award, NASI-Reliance Industries Platinum Jubilee Award, Shri Om Prakash Bhasin Award 2016, IMS Diamond Jubilee Memorial Award 2016, Dr D. Sundaresan Memorial Oration Award 2017, NASI Lecture Award 2017 and Prof NG Ranga Memorial Award by the Andhra Pradesh Science Congress 2017. He also received the Recognition Award of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences for the biennium 2013-14 for significant contributions in Plant Improvement and the Lifetime Achievement Awards of the Indian Genetics Congress and the Indian Society of Agricultural Biochemists.

Dr Mohapatra is an esteemed Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, National Academy of Sciences-India, Allahabad and the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi. He has been conferred doctoral degree (Honoris Causa) by Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar, YS Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Solan, Himachal Pradesh, Siksha `O’ Anusandhan University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha and Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Verterinary and Animal Sciences University, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Previous Lectures

4th Lecture

Prof. G. Padmanabaan

President, The National Academy of Sciences, India

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3rd Lecture

Prof. H. K. Das

Former Dean, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi

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2nd Lecture

Prof. P. V. Sane

Former Director, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute,  Lucknow

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1st Lecture

Prof. M. S. Naik

Former Head, Division of Biochemistry, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi

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4th Lecture

Speaker: Prof. G. Padmanban, President, The National Academy of Sciences, India
Topic: Application of Modern Technologies in Agriculture
Dated: 08 November, 2019
Venue: ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research, Hyderabad
During the National Conference on “Integrative Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology”

3rd Lecture

Speaker: Prof. H. K. Das, Former Dean, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi
Topic: A tribute to late Dr. N. B. Das by a former colleague
Dated: 19 November, 2018
Venue: WTC, ICAR- Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
During the National Symposium on “Connecting Innovations in Plant Biology for Food and Nutritional Security”

2nd Lecture

Speaker: Prof. P.V. Sane, Former Director, CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow
Dated: February, 1996
Venue: CCSHAU, Hissar
During the fourth National Symposium on “Current Trends in Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology”

1st Lecture

Speaker: Prof. M. S. Naik, Former Head, Div. of Biochemistry, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi
Dated: December, 1993
Venue: TNAU, Coimbatore
During the second National Symposium on the “Developments in Plant Molecular Biology & Genetic Engineering”