Asima Chatterjee

Asima Chatterjee (23 September 1917 – 22 November 2006) was an Indian chemist noted for her work in the fields of organic chemistry and phytomedicine.Her most notable work includes research on vinca alkaloids, and the development of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. She also authored a considerable volume of work on medicinal plants of the Indian subcontinent.


Early lif

Asima Chatterjee (née Mookerjee) was born on 23 September 1917 in Bengal. An excellent student, Chatterjee grew up inCalcutta, attending school and subsequently enrolling at the Scottish Church College, of the University of Calcutta, graduating with honours in chemistry in 1936.

Academic work

Asima Chatterjee graduated in 1938 with a master’s degree in organic chemistry from the University of Calcutta, completing a doctoral degree there in 1944. Her doctoral research focused on the chemistry of plant products and synthetic organic chemistry. Among her notable instructors at the time were Prafulla Chandra Roy and Prof S.N. Bose. Additionally she also had research experience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the Caltech.

Chaterjee’s research centered around natural products chemistry and resulted in anti-convulsive, anti-malarial and chemotherapy drugs.


She joined the Lady Brabourne College, of the University of Calcutta in 1940 as the founding head of the department of chemistry. In 1944, Chatterjee became the first woman to be conferred a Doctorate of Science by an Indian University. In 1954, Asima Chatterjee joined the University College of Science of the University of Calcutta, as reader in pure chemistry. In 1962, Chatterjee was appointed the prestigious Khaira professorship of Chemistry at the University of Calcutta, a position she held till 1982.