Kasturi Datta has earned her BSc (Chemistry), MSc (Biochemistry) and PhD degrees from Calcutta University, after which she worked in the USA, first at the State Research Institute for Neurochemistry, New York, as a post-doctoral fellow and then at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Los Angeles as a Biochemist. Later on, she spent years as Visiting Professor at Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, Nutley, New Jersey.
Academic and Research Achievements: On returning to India, Datta joined the School of Environmental Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she started a Biochemistry Laboratory and initiated both teaching and research programmes in environmental biology. Initially she identified a novel enzyme alanine d'ova transaminase and studied its regulation in heme biosynthesis and cytochrome p450 formation. Later on, she became interested in understanding the molecular basis of cell matrix proteins in cell-cell interaction and signal transduction under environmental stimuli. Datta's group purified and identified a novel protein having specific affinity towards hyaluronan and later cloned the human gene encoding this protein. Human genomic project accepted its name as HABP1. She showed that this gene is localized on human chromosome 17p13.3. Her continued efforts in characterizing this protein confirmed its multifunctionality, establishing its role in cellular signaling and apoptosis induction. She has published over hundred research articles.
Other Contributions: Datta is an elected member of American Society of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Biology and HUGO (2007). She also served several committees involved in science promotion. She has served INSA as a member of its Council (1999-2001).
Awards and Honours: Professor Datta is a recipient of several awards like Ranbaxy Award (1999), Professor MRN Prasad Memorial Lecture Award of INSA (2000), Senior Women Bioscientist Award of DBT (2001), Professor Darshan Ranganathan Memorial Lecture Award of INSA (2003), FICCI Award (2004) and Basanti Devi Amir Chand Award of ICMR (2005). She is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Science, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).