Dr. Asoke Banerji, Distinguished Professor, Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amritapuri, was nominated to The American Chemical Society, one of the world’s oldest, most trusted, and prestigious scientific societies. To become a member of the American Chemical Society, the person has to be nominated by two current members.
This honor adds to the long list of accomplishments in Dr. Banerji's distinguished career. Dr. Banerji is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, London, Fellow of National Academy of Sciences, Former Vice Presidents of Indian Society for Bioorganic Chemistry, and Indian Chemical Society (Western Branch) and Fellow of Maharashtra Academy of Sciences. He has visited many countries in U.S. Europe and Asia in the capacity of visiting professor or adviser and delivered many plenary lectures at National and International meetings. He has about 300 research publications. Dr. Banerji is associated with many institutions in advisory capacity such as Defense Research and Development Organization, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medicine Research, Centre for Medicinal Plant Research and Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology.
The main thrust of research activities of Dr. Banerji’s Phytochemistry group at the Amrita School of Biotechnology has been directed towards emerging areas of natural product chemistry. Dr. Banerji gave a new direction to the natural product research by purpose-oriented investigation of plant extracts. Facilities for bioassay-directed fractionation of extracts were established and an array of different bioactive compounds were isolated and characterized. Some examples are: allitin (insecticidal, anti-tumour, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor), bakuchiol and its derivatives (insect juvenile hormone mimics), ecdysone and ecdysterone (insect moulting hormones and anabolic activity), immunomodulators, anti-metabolites, and furocoumarins and furochromones (phototoxic, antiatherosclerotic and antifeedant agents) anacardic acids from waste from cashew industry (as MMP inhibitors, wound healing agent, anti-tumour compounds). Very recently some quinones isolated from ayurvedic plants, were found to have pro-apoptotic activity; the activity being induced through the generation of reactive oxygen species. Some of his discoveries such as indigenous insect growth regulators have been commercialized. Interesting lead molecules have been discovered by screening a large number of natural and synthetic molecules.
Dr. Banerji has also contributed in synthetic organic chemistry. He has developed new synthetic strategies based on organometallics, sono- and photochemistry. These studies led to the invention of reactions of synthetic importance. His contribution on modulation of activity of low-valent titanium has led to a conceptual advancement in modern organic synthesis and has opened the fronts of many future scientific endeavors. Dr. Banerji has skillfully used the expertise of the basic research to the applied areas. He has developed the synthesis of organic ligands, which have many applications such as: in nuclear medicine (radiopharmaceuticals), chelation therapy (for decontamination of body from environmental toxicants), actinide extractants (for nuclear fuel processing) or Organo-magnets. Dr. Banerji has several patents to his credit.