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January 2011

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Chatterjee wins Young Investigator Award

By Sophie Bolick
January 2011

Saurabh Chatterjee, Ph.D.

Chatterjee has been very successful while at NIEHS, publishing peer-reviewed publications, as either a first or contributing author. He was also a winner of a Fellows Awards for Research Excellence in 2008( and again this year( (Photo courtesy of Saurabh Chatterjee)

Saurabh Chatterjee, Ph.D., a visiting fellow with the NIEHS Free Radical Metabolism Group, was awarded the prestigious Young Investigator Award at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Free Radical Biology and Medicine (SFRBM).

Held this year Nov. 16-20 in Atlanta, the SFRBM annual meeting is the largest of its kind for researchers working in the field of free radical biology and medicine, drawing approximately 750 scientists from all over the world. The Young Investigator Award recognizes the best scientific presentation as determined by a panel of judges.

Liver toxicity associated with environmental exposure

How obesity potentiates environmental hepatotoxicity has been the focus of Chatterjee's research at NIEHS. According to Chatterjee, many chemicals used at low doses do not have any visible health effects in normal, healthy adults. However, in obese individuals, there are health effects, thought to occur, in part, through free radical formation. Approximately 20 percent of obese Americans have liver problems, which may be associated with free radical formation.

Chatterjee is studying the effects of bromodichloromethane, a water disinfection byproduct formed when chlorine is used to treat swimming pools and tap water, on mice. Normal, healthy mice are unaffected by low doses of this chemical, while diet-induced diabetic mice develop steatohepatitis, or liver inflammation. He is studying the mechanisms by which this occurs, as well as the role of leptin, a proinflammatory adipocytokine, in this process. "This is an important area of research because liver inflammation can lead to more serious diseases like autoimmune hepatitis and liver cirrhosis," said Chatterjee.

Award recognizes work of young scientists

According to Free Radical Metabolism Group chief Ron Mason, Ph.D., winning the Young Investigator Award is a great recognition for young scientists, with some previous awardees from the group, including Marcelo Bonini, Ph.D., going on to highly successful careers in academia. Chatterjee would like to transition from NIEHS to an independent investigator position, continuing his research on the effects of environmental toxicants in obesity-induced inflammation.

Chatterjee credits his fellowship at NIEHS for giving his career "a huge boost, especially under the mentorship of Dr. Mason." He continued, "I have a high degree of freedom to develop independent ideas and put them in research perspective." He also acknowledged the resources offered by the Office of Fellows' Career Development, headed by Diane Klotz, Ph.D., as being an immense help. Workshops focusing on the various aspects of career development and grantsmanship have proven invaluable to his growth as a scientist.

Chatterjee, a native of India, was drawn to NIEHS by the highly regarded work done by the Free Radical Metabolism Group. He considers Mason's group to be "one of the most renowned labs in the country for free radical biology." Chatterjee received his M.S. in Human Physiology and worked as an assistant scientist at the Radiation Biology and Health Sciences Division of the Government of India Department of Atomic Energy while earning his Ph.D. at the University of Mumbai. With a background in immunotoxicology, he focused his research on radiation-related effects on biological systems, including inflammation and heat stroke.

(Sophie Bolick, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow with the Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology Group in the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis.)

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