Hemanta K Majumder did his graduation and post-graduation from Calcutta University. Subsequently, he joined Bose Institute, Kolkata and worked under the guidance of Professor RK Mandal on regulation cell division with special reference to chromatin to obtain his PhD (1975). He worked at the Department of Developmental Biology and Cancer, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York under Professor Umadas Maitra as post-doctoral Fellow (1976-79). He also worked at the Institute fur Molekularbiologie I, Switzerland under C Weissmann (1979-89). After returning to India, Majumder joined Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB, CSIR), Kolkata (1981). He was a Visiting Associate (1988-89) in the Department of Molecular Biology, University of California in Professor Harrisson Echols' Laboratory.
Academic and Research Achievements: While in Switzerland, Majumder worked on cloning of variant surface glycoprotein genes and antigenic variation in Trypanosoma brucei. AT IICB, he initiated recombinant DNA research using Leishmania donovani as a system. Majumder has made detailed investigation on the structure of mitochondrial/kinetoplast DNA of the organism and characterized the enzymes DNA topoisomerases that are involved in the formation of the massive kDNA network structure. He has cloned the genes encoding DNA topoisomerases and have shown the unusual bisubunit structure of type IB topoisomerase of Leishmania. He has established the enzyme as targets for therapeutic agents. In collaboration with the Medicinal Chemistry Department of the Institute he has identified several compounds from indigenous plants as inhibitors of Leishmania DNA topoisomerases with potential as antileishmanial agents. Majumder has made significant contribution to the study of programmed cell death (PCD) in this unicellular organism induced by topoisomerase inhibitors, which may help in developing newer targets for treatment and prevention of parasitic diseases. He has published around 70 research articles and mentored 17 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Dr Majumder has been the working Chairman of the West Bengal State Council of Science & Technology, Government of West Bengal, since 2004, for promotion of science and technology at the state level; Chairman, Expert Committee for State Innovation Award, Government of West Bengal; and Working Chairman, State Level Climatic Change Committee, Government of West Bengal. He has been the Guest Editor of the journal Current Molecular Medicine (USA) for a special issue on Current Hot Topics on Biology and Biochemistry of Kinetoplastid Parasites. He has also edited the book, Drug Targets in Kinetoplastid Parasites, and a special issue of Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (Vol 625, Landes Biosciences Publishers, USA, 2007).
Awards and Honours: Dr Majumder is the recipient of Dr PC Sengupta Memorial Oration Gold Medal by Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine (2004); Professor Jnan Chandra Ghosh Memorial Award by Science Association of Bengal (2007); and Professor BK Bachhawat Memorial Lecture Award by National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (2008). He was the Vice-President of Society of Biological Chemistry in India (2001-03). He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and West Bengal Academy of Science & Technology.