Professor Bimal Krishna Banik, Ph. D., C. Chem., F. R. S. C., F. I. C. S., who has recently joined the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, College of Sciences and Human Studies, Deanship of Research Development, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has made valuable contributions in the vast field of chemistry and related areas. In the following interview Professor Banik defines about his achievements, ongoing research works and about his laboratory and team involved in the research projects with him.
How do you like working at your current position and university? Prof. Banik:I have spent my entire life working at various educational environments. As long as I contribute in advancing intelligence and developing knowledge, I feel that I am doing something for the society. It is very important to note that Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) has offered me to contribute towards creating an atmosphere to deliver numerous opportunities in research, collective work, and innovative thinking. Moreover, PMU has a number of programs that are used to enriching human intelligence. Since these are my career goals, I cannot think of a better place or university other than PMU.
Please share with us some important awards and honors that you have received in life? Prof. Banik:I have received many awards and honors. Five of these include:
First President's Endowed Professorship at the University of Texas-Pan American
University of Texas Board of Regents Outstanding Teaching Award
Mahatma Gandhi Medal at the British Parliament
Best Advisor Award for the undergraduates by the US National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Life Time Achievement Award by the Indian Chemical Society
Can you share your views on Bentham Science Publisher? Prof. Banik:My research publication in Bentham Journal had started in 1998. Since then I have published numerous papers and reviews in various Bentham Journals including in Current Medicinal Chemistry, Current Organic Chemistry, Current Organocatalysis and Current Microwave Chemistry. In addition to publishing papers, I have been serving as the Editorial Board Member of a few Bentham Journals, and Editor-in-Chief of three Bentham Journals. As the editor, one of my responsibilities is to recruit guest editor, section editor, regional editor, editorial and associate editorial board members. It is understandable that I have reviewed several hundred manuscripts that were submitted for publication in Bentham journals. Because of these direct and deep interactions for the past twenty years, I am fully aware that the scholarly journals and books by Bentham attracted attention of millions of researchers in the world. Bentham Science publishes papers in more than hundred journals on diverse fields including in science, technology, and medical science. Many of these are indexed in reputable agencies: Journal Citation Reports/Science Edition, MEDLINE/Index Medicus, PubMed, Scopus, Chemical Abstracts, and EMBASE. Therefore, I must state that Bentham is a highly recognized publisher in the world. I am always ready to publish and encourage others to publish papers in Bentham Journals.
Can you tell us something about Current Organocatalysis and Current Microwave Chemistry? Prof. Banik:Of course, yes. Current Organocatalysis & Synthetic Methods and Current Microwave Chemistry are receiving papers, not at an extremely high rate. These two are relatively new journals. Current Organocatalysis & Synthetic Methods publish papers on different aspects of homogeneous/heterogeneous catalysis including their mechanistic investigations, development of new reactions and reagents and their applications to synthesis. Current Microwave Chemistry publishes microwave-induced methods in chemistry, biology, medicine, and engineering. This journal serves as a premier source of microwave related information for scientists. We evaluate manuscripts following specific guidelines. Our reviewers are competent, staff members are knowledgeable and administrators are experienced to run the publication process efficiently. The efforts by the authors and reviewers are highly appreciated and these are the key factors for the continuation of these journals. I request authors to continue to submit their valuable research to these two journals. In addition, I also expect to have new authors who have not submitted their manuscripts to these journals. Bentham publisher would be pleased to hear your views regarding our performances and your constructive criticisms.
Have you published recently in any Bentham Journals? Prof. Banik:Very recently, I am going to have a perspective published in Current Medicinal Chemistry (2019, Volume 26, Issue 24) on microwave-induced chemistry for the synthesis of medicinally active compounds. This perspective describes several efficient ways of microwave-induced chemistry. Creative science always remains competitive and adventurous. To develop economical process, fast reactions, high yields of the products with exceptional selectivity, green methods are necessary in drug discovery research. Microwave-induced science has become very attractive to realize many of the modern challenges. Many reactions require high activation energy to reach to the transition states and these are difficult to perform by conventional heating methods. In contrast, these difficult methods are conducted smoothly with microwave irradiation through a facile energy transfer process to the reactants. Scientists have differentiated thermal and microwave process. In thermal method, temperature transfers through the container of the reaction that has reactants and solvents. Microwave may generate heat through a non-thermal process. In microwave, temperature probably transfers through coupling (direct transfer of energy process) and radiation effects and these excite the molecules so that transition state of the reactions can be reached in a quicker way. This is further facilitated by the fact that polar molecules can accept the radiation and heat very rapidly. Several medicinally important compounds are described in this article by microwave-induced reactions. The principal advantages of this method include use of relatively non-toxic solvents (or solventless process), selectivity of the reactions, significant acceleration of the rate of the processes, less decomposition of the products, easy extraction methods, less side reactions and overall high yields of the desired products.
What subjects do you teach to students in class? Prof. Banik:I teach basic and special topics in organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry. Special topics include Chemistry Nobel Prize Winner’s Discoveries, Antibiotics, Green Chemistry, and Cancer Chemotherapy.
What areas does your laboratory work in? Prof. Banik:My laboratory research areas are diverse. For example, I have been working on the chemistry and biology of novel anticancer beta-lactams, on organometallic chemicals used in the synthesis of biologically active compounds, on polyaromatic compounds (as new anticancer and antibacterial agents), on organic synthesis/medicinal chemistry by microwave-induced reactions, as well as catalytic reactions and computer-assisted quantum mechanical calculations for novel molecules.
Tell us about your team. How long have you been together? Prof. Banik:My talented team includes experienced Professors, Associate Professors, Assistant Professors, Post-doctoral fellows, Research students and graduate students from different countries. My team members consist of a number of Ph. D., M. D., M. S., and B. S. scientists as well as many college and high school students who have not earned any professional degrees. They have diverse backgrounds on chemical, physical, pharmacological, biological, and medical science. Many of them have worked with me from 1 to 25 years.
What are the key findings from your recent research? Tell us about your team's most recent experiments or discovery. Prof. Banik:I have synthesized and studied the stereochemical distribution of a number of novel beta-lactams. Asymmetric synthesis of anticancer beta-lactams using carbohydrates and natural products has also been performed. Some of compounds we have studied have shown promising antitumor activity in vitro and in vivo against ovarian, breast, colon, prostate, liver, pancreatic, skin and blood cancer cell lines and in animal tumor model systems. The cytotoxic potency of a few beta-lactams has been found to be greater than the well-known drug, cisplatin. Some of the methods with metals and salts-induced processes that I have developed are very effective for the synthesis of several medicinally active agents that include glycosides, hormones and heterocyclic compounds. The current focus in organic chemistry is to extend the principles of organic reactions that take place in homogeneous conditions to analogues reactions that take place on solid supported reagents. The high reactivity, convenience, cost-effective, diastereoselectivity and enantioselectivity and new chemistry associated with these metals-and salts-mediated reactions represent a useful improvement over existing methods. I have designed and synthesized a large number of planar molecules using highly lipophilic polycyclic aromatic amines as their nucleus for a systematic examination of modifications of structures that might result in selective interactions with cancer cells and bacteria in animal model. This study has established a few lead compounds that are very effective against a variety cancer cell lines and infectious microorganisms. The mechanism of action of these lead agents along with the identification of regimen is being developed at this time. From this detailed structure-activity and in vitro and in vivo studies, a few lead compounds that are highly potent in HT-29 (human colon) and SKOV-3 (human ovary) cancer cell lines have been developed. It is important to state that some of the polycyclic aromatic compounds have demonstrated antibacterial activities against resistant microorganisms with low micromolar concentration. The use of domestic and automated microwave in organic synthesis, inorganic chemistry and medicinal chemistry is well established. Our research group has demonstrated that the stereochemistry of many organic compounds can be altered with the proper selection of the microwave energy and order of addition of the reactants.
Can you explain what some of these compounds do at a molecular level? Prof. Banik:My studies of these agents have demonstrated an extremely potent G2 blockade in the cell cycle which leads to apoptosis (a process of programmed cell death). Selective activation of specific that trigger this process genes has been observed. These studies also indicate that cell membrane interactions are involved. The mechanism of apoptosis is not easy to understand and it involves numerous pathways. These pathways are not consistent and may lead malignant transformation of the affected cells, metastasis and resistance to anticancer drugs. Nevertheless, apoptosis plays a crucial role in cancer since perhaps it is the most prominent target. The scientific literature confirms that targeting apoptosis in cancer is highly significant choice.
What are the unique or intriguing implications of this discovery for research in the field of organic chemistry and organocatalysis? Prof. Banik:Organic chemistry is the central subject in science. The outcome of this research is the identification of several organic molecules as drug candidates. These discoveries uncover novel mechanisms of actions of new organic compounds. In contrast to well-known theories of carcinogenic and mutagenic properties of certain compounds, this work demonstrates significant medicinal activities by these molecules. Specific activation pathways toward oxidation of the aromatic systems are prevented. Novel catalytic procedures help to identify reliable methods for the preparation of many of these compounds.
What are the technical challenges currently faced by you when working on your experiments? Prof. Banik:The exact causes of anticancer and antibacterial nature of many of these molecules remain unknown. But, results indicate promising lead molecules with unique mechanisms of action. To identify evidences of these molecular processes require extensive, valid experiments and conclusions derived from them.
What methods are useful for testing your findings and validating the results? Prof. Banik:As stated before, I am an organic and medicinal chemist working on diverse molecules that have unprecedented activities against different types of medical disorders. To test and validate findings, in general, I use different spectroscopic studies, elemental analyses, X-rays, computational methods, in vitro and in vivo tests, toxicity tests, enzyme assays, cellular effects, macromolecular studies, computational methods and half-life studies. The compounds prepared in my laboratory are compared with clinically active drugs in order to identify their effectiveness and diverse characteristics.
What do you look forward to do in the near future? Prof. Banik:It is necessary to make the most active compounds in larger quantities and to examine the molecular pathways in great details. Genomic and proteomic experiments and additional in vivo experiments against diverse cells are required to perform.
How do you go about sharing your research with both the scientific community and the general public? Prof. Banik:In general, I publish papers in journals and present them in international meetings using the unknown results from the above works. Moreover, I teach and guide students/scientists/faculties of different Nations in these areas. My interviews in research are published in USA Newspaper and India News papers as well as in the website of USA National Cancer Institute, American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News, in the websites of several international journals, and in the internet. It is also important to uncover my research in newspapers, websites and other media. While I have not publicized my research in mainstream media on my own, I, along with many others, do believe more news should be published in this area considering the values and potential of these subjects based upon their fundamental and clinical values. Moreover, scientists all over world cite my publications.
How do you support your researchers including students and postdoctoral fellows and costs of research? Prof. Banik:I have obtained numerous highly competitive grants from USA National Institute of Health, USA National Cancer Institute, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Texas-Pan American, Kleberg Foundation of USA, Private Donar funds, and International funds. The above grants are used to support my researchers and the costs of my research.
Any message for current and aspiring researchers interested in your specific research field? Prof. Banik:Beta Lactam and polyaromatic research have very high potential for significant development. These research areas are not restricted to their novel route of organic synthesis, but are open to different areas in allied fields. The resulting molecules can be employed for treating diverse medical disorders through a systematic structure-activity study. Academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies and chemical companies are highly interested in developing useful methods, reagents, and compounds for the benefit of human and animals. Life threatening diseases - both familiar and new ones - are affecting humans very frequently and severely. Thus the demand for new biologically active compounds is increasing at an unprecedented rate. It is a service and tribute to the world and humanity to discover highly active medicinal agents with less toxic and side effects. It is always important “to go to the nature” in order to identify and explore exciting molecules. According to surveys, a relatively limited number of natural resources / products have been explored till date. I remember Sir Isaac Newton’s quote at this occasion: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me”. Thus the young generations face a significant challenge of original discoveries using numerous available data and resources. It will improve the academic and future life of many young scientists and will be flourished with significant achievements.
Jerry Wu received his Ph.D. degree in 1998 from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan State University, USA. He is currently a distinguished professor at Feng Chia University in Taiwan. Prof. Wu’s research interests include ozonation and advanced oxidation processes for water and wastewater treatment, functional materials for sensor, energy, medical, biochemical, and environmental applications, analytical techniques for molecule substances and micro pollutants. In addition, he is also interested in the nanomaterial synthesis via sonochemcial or microwaved approaches and photocatalysis applications, including decontamination, electrochemistry, and hydrogen production from water splitting.