SK Adhya obtained his BSc from St Xavier's College and MSc in Biochemistry from Ballygunge Science College, Kolkata. He left for US in 1977 and obtained PhD (1981) from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. He worked as post-doctoral Fellow in the adenovirus replication project of Jerry Hurwitz. Returning to India in 1985 he joined the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) Kolkata. Currently, he is a Senior Scientist (G) and heading the Division of Molecular and Human Genetics, IICB. He is also an Honorary Lecturer in the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Genetics, Departments of Calcutta University, since 1990s.
Academic and Research Achievements: Samit Adhya led a small research team devoted to the study of RNA transport across biological membranes. His original contributions included defining the biochemical requirements for import and the discovery of a functional import complex. This work placed the Adhya group at the forefront of tRNA import research worldwide. His group made the unexpected observation that the Leishmania RIC is taken up into mammalian cells and targeted to mitochondria, where it induces import of cytosolic tRNAs. The importance of this observation was that the imported tRNAs could complement mitochondrial tRNA mutations that have been observed in several maternally inherited degenerative diseases, restoring cellular respiration. His group also showed that RIC could be used to deliver small and large RNAs into cells in vitro as well as into animal tissues in vivo. These observations open up an entirely new approach to gene therapy using a functional multi-protein complex, and will have implications for the management of rare inherited or sporadic disorders of mitochondrial origin, as well as of aging, which is associated with accumulation of mitochondrial mutations. He has mentored 12 students for their PhD degree.
Other Contributions: Adhya conceived and coordinated a major institutional project on mitochondrial disease during the XI Plan. Currently he is a Member of Project Advisory Committees of many major national biological research laboratories, and of Technical Committees of INSA and Indian Academy of Sciences. Bangalore. He was a participant in CSIR-CNRS Collaborative Project on Genome Mapping of Old World Leishmania (2000), and at various times, collaborated with groups in the UK and Europe.
Awards and Honours: Adhya is a gold medallist from Calcutta University. He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, and the West Bengal Academy of Science and Technology.