Published: 24th May 2017
This professor from Odisha who is researching on cancer genes might end up eliminating the deadly disease
Birendranath Banerjee believes that DNA-based research is the step towards cancer cures, and is on a mission to create more professionals for the world.
For Dr Birendranath Banerjee, his students are the ambassadors of his abilities. A molecular oncologist and an expert in the field of cancer genetics research, Dr Banerjee hopes to mould future geneticists much like his alma mater, Sri Ramachandra University, where he pursued his Master’s in Human Genetics.
The 39-year-old researcher, who is currently an associate professor in the School of Biotechnology, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, has been involved in teaching and research for the last 15 years. He completed his PhD in cancer genetics from Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru and received his training at National University of Singapore (NUS) and Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas before deciding to take up teaching full-time.
Apart from teaching, Birendranath is working on molecular profiling of cancer in Odisha and his research is supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India
Apart from teaching, he is currently working on the molecular profiling of cancer in Odisha and his research is supported by the DBT (Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India). He has also established eastern India’s first DNA-based diagnostics platform, a venture called inDNA Life Sciences that is currently incubated in KIIT, Bhubaneswar and has co-founded inDNA Global in London.
“Teaching the cutting-edge science of genetics keeps me updated and more importantly helps me mould trained manpower for our DNA diagnostics company as well,” says Dr Banerjee. Such is his influence and the expertise with which he imparts his knowledge in Biotechnology that many of his students are now alumni of top-notch universities like Oxford, MIT and Harvard. “The biggest ambassadors of my abilities are my students. They are my most valuable assets,” he says.
Teaching the cutting-edge science of DNA keeps me updated and more importantly helps me create trained manpower for our DNA diagnostics company
Dr Birendranath Banerjee, Associate Professor, KIIT
Speaking about his research, he says that Odisha has the highest incidence of oral cancer in the country due the use of tobacco as gutka. “My research group is engaged in the molecular profiling of the disease and most importantly, in recurrence prediction. We are also involved in the awareness campaign for the detection of early lesions in the oral cavity, which can be treated and cured if detected early,” explains Dr Banerjee, who started teaching while he was pursuing his PhD.
His research team has found that oral cancer is highly prevalent in the middle age (40 to 50 years of age) population. The recurrence and re-recurrence of the disease has been related to biomarkers that can be used as early predictive markers, and could also be used as molecular diagnostic tools in the clinic. “We are also involved in a national comparative study of oral cancer incidence and other factors with the northeastern and southern populations. We have started Odisha’s first DNA diagnostics lab,” he says.
Cancer Cure: The research team found that oral cancer is highly prevalent in the middle age population
Dr Banerjee’s vision is to create India’s workforce for the global demand of geneticists. “If we can be the workforce capital of Silicon Valley, then why can’t we produce the largest skilled workforce of Genome Valley? The Indian population is the most diverse group of ethnicities and therefore we have the advantage of creating the best human DNA lab in the world. My dream is for precision DNA technology to reach every single Indian even in remote areas,” says Dr Banerjee with conviction.