Smriti Narayan Chatterjee earned BSc (Hons in Physics) and MSc (Physics) degrees from Calcutta University, after which he joined the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in 1955. He obtained his PhD (in Physics) from the University of Calcutta in 1958. He then switched over to the more challenging field of Biology and Biophysics and joined the School of Tropical Medicine in 1961, where he continued as Associate Professor and Head, Biophysics Department till 1973. He worked in the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata as Head, Biophysics Division (1973-77) and then joined the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata as Senior Professor and Head of the Biophysics Division till he retired on superannuation in 1992. He also worked as Director (1990-91) and as INSA Senior Scientist (Emeritus) (1992-97) in SINP.
Academic and Research Achievements: The important research contributions of Chatterjee include (i) Direct visualization for the first time, by electron microscopy, of the individual molecules of human haemoglobin (1960;1961) and serum albumin (1965), (ii) the first recording by electron microscopy of the in-situ structures of the polyribosomes with connecting m-RNA threads in L donovani (1970), (iii) while recording the electron microscopic structures of the cholera bacteriophages of different sero-groups he established for the first time the morphological basis of the phage or viral taxonomy, (iv) discovered the formation of outer membrane vesicles (OMV) as a novel secretory mechanism of Vibrio cholerae,which was subsequently confirmed by others in many other Gram-negative bacteria . This finding subsequently opened a new chapter on vaccine production for Gram-negative pathogenic bacteria in general, (v) deciphered the molecular mechanism of antimicrobial action of furazolidone and related synthetic nitrofuran drugs and demonstrated the mutagenic and potential carcinogenic action of these drugs, (vi) elucidated the production of functionally active hydroxyl free radicals (OH°) in aqueous medium by both the clinical and laboratory ultrasound, and sounded the first note of caution against any indiscrete and/or avoidable use of ultrasound in human diagnosis and therapy and (vii) demonstrated the singlet oxygen-mediated oxidative damage of liposomal membrane by genotoxic activity of the UVA (365 nm) radiation. He guided 25 students to their PhD degrees.Besides numerous research papers and review articles,he authored along with Keya Chaudhuri, two books,i) Cholera Toxins (2009) and ii) Outer Membrane Vesicles of Bacteria (2012),both published by Springer-Verlag,Heidelberg, Germany and along with M.Maiti a Chapter on Vibriophages and Vibriocins : Physical, Chemical and Biological Properties in Advances in Virus Research, Academic Press, New York (1984).
Other Contributions: Chatterjee is one of the founding members of Indian Biophysical Society (IBS) and Electron Microscope Society of India (EMSI), Founder- President of DNA Society of India and is a member of many national and international committees(including the International Committee for the Taxonomy of Viruses, Bacterial Virus Sub-Committee) and societies on related areas. He initiated biophysical research at the School of Tropical Medicine and also Indian Institute of Chemical Biology. He is a member of the Governing Body and Council of the Bose Institute, Kolkata and worked for several years as Vice-President of the West Bengal Academy of Science & Technology.
Awards and Honours: Chatterjee has been the recipient of numerous awards including Rockefeller Foundation (New York) Award (1962), Shakuntala Amirchand Prize (1966) and Basanti Devi Amirchand Prize(1983) of the Indian Council of Medical Research , Foundation Day Oration Medal of Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine (1992), Platinum Jubilee Lecturership of Indian Science Congress Association (1993), Shambhu Nath De Memorial Lecture Award of INSA (1996), Professor AK Chandra Memorial Lecture Award of the Calcutta University (1996), Felicitation for Life-Time Achievement by the Electron Microscopic Society of India (1999) and Indian Biophysical Society (2003). He was elected Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, National Academy of Medical Sciences (India) and West Bengal Academy of Science & Technology. He co-chaired a session,Taxonomy and Phylogeny of Phages, at the 7th International Congress of Virology, Edmonton, Canada, (1987).