Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd - a Leading pharmaceutical industry of the country started Samson H Chowdhury Memorial Award to recognize two young scientists of the country in each alternate year since 2013 for their contribution to science. This year, 2017, two young scientists of Dhaka University, Associate Professors Dr. ABMM Khademul Islam, Department of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and Dr. Munawara Sultana, Department of Microbiology, were selected for this award. Health minister Mohammed Nasim handed over the awards to the recipients on 18th February in an occasion at Dhaka club.
Dr. ABMM Khademul Islam working to elucidate the epigenetic/genetic mechanisms of cancers, drug target identification, drug discovery against cancer, personalized medicine; genetic and immunologic mechanisms of arthritis and other diseases. Dr. Islam has shown the KDM5A/RBP2/JARID1A as suitable epigenetic drug target for cancers. Since epigenetic enzymes are reversible, his present research is concentrated to epigenetic drug discovery. He is recognized for his contribution for elucidating the mechanism how precisely cell differentiation is coupled with halted cell cycle progression and the involvement of epigenetic regulations in this process. He explained the role of KDM5A (Histone demethylase) in cancer and proved the concept more effective of combinatorial epigenetic therapy against the KDM5A with another co-regulating epigenetic enzyme. He discovered coregulatory pattern of histone-modifying enzymes in cancer which can be used for better drug design. He also discovered that KDM5A depletion rescues differentiation in pRB-deficient cells by enhanced mitochondrial functions through modulating pB/KDM5A downstream targets. Therefore, through a KDM5A inhibitor, or bypassing the need for pRb, by restoring its metabolic effects, tumor belligerence may be reduced in cancers with genetic or epigenetic aberrations in the RB pathway. Also, he uncovered the probable mechanism of aggressive tumor formation by discovering a novel mechanism where the RB/E2F pathway interacts with the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway to synergistically control cell cycle exit upon differentiation. Recently he identified a gene-set responsible for tumor cell migration/progression in colon cancer and showed a way to predict prognosis of this cancer patient.
Dr. Munawar Sultana received award for her outstanding research in antibiotic resistance mechanism, ecological impact of antibiotic resistance, microbiological process of arsenic mobilization and potential remediation of arsenic as well as FMD vaccine development.