Ex CSIR-IMTECH Director awarded with the prestigious ‘Heroes of Chemistry Award’

Leading scientist and former CSIR scientist Dr Anil Koul has been recently awarded this year’s American Chemical Society’s ‘Heroes of Chemistry Award’ for discovery of Bedaquiline along with 2 of his colleagues, Dr Koen Andries and Dr Jerome Guillemont. 

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(File Photo) Dr Anil Koul, Ex Director, CSIR-IMTECH-Chandigarh. During his current stint at IMTECH, Dr Koul has been instrumental in establishing strong industry-academia links and launching new units like virology, medicinal chemistry and advanced translational microbiomics center. He is also devising policy for ease of doing science, a new human resource group with emphasis on science outreach and training in rural India, and other public and policy engagements.
New Delhi: Former director of the Chandigarh-based Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH), Dr Anil Koul has received this year’s American Chemical Society’s ‘Heroes of Chemistry Award’ for the discovery of tuberculosis drug, Bedaquiline. It is the first drug discovered in more than 40 years for drug-resistant tuberculosis.
This award actually is testimony to the excellence of the Indian scientific community as well as its global scientific leadership and helps to foster India’s mission to eliminate TB within this decade. India is now looking at a country-wide expansion of oral regimens containing Bedaquiline.
The other members of his team who were recognized for this contribution are Dr Koen Andries and Dr Jerome Guillemont, who worked along with Dr Koul and the rest of the team. This team discovered a new compound class – diarylquinolines – of which Bedaquiline was the lead candidate and the most active stereoisomer that was active against several strains of mycobacteria. The team showed for the first time that Bedaquiline specifically targets mycobacterial enzyme – adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthase – and blocks TB bacteria’s energy supply.
The US FDA approved Bedaquiline, in December, 2012, to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and India approved the drug in 2016. It was the first new tuberculosis drug to be discovered in more than 40 years. To date, Bedaquiline has been accessed by about 210,000 patients in 141 countries. Today, WHO recommends Bedaquiline as a core component of treatment regimens for all patients with pulmonary drug-resistant TB – a leading contributor to antimicrobial resistance globally. Bedaquiline is currently on WHO’s list of essential medicines and recognized as major orphan disease innovation of last decade and the team was awarded the 2016 Prix Galien prize.
ACS was founded in 1876 and chartered by the U.S. Congress, and is one of the world’s largest scientific organizations with more than 152,000 members in 130+ countries. This award recognizes scientists whose innovative work lead to products that benefit the world.
Innovator par excellence
With more than 18 years of experience in drug discovery and translational research, Dr Koul was one of the key scientists involved in the discovery of several breakthrough innovations in the field of medical sciences.
Dr Koul has contributed to several other drug development projects, some of which are currently in clinical tests in humans, including the discovery of a molecule for the treatment of serious viral infection in children which is also a major cause of deaths due to viral pneumonia. Dr Koul holds more than 20 international patents to his credit and several publications in leading journals like Science and Nature.
Dr Koul is currently serving at the global pharma Johnson and Johnson as its vice president for Global Public Health discovery. He is also a Professor at a prestigious public health institution, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), based in London, UK. At LSHTM, Dr Koul is setting up a new laboratory of ‘Translational Discovery’ focused on understanding the pathogenesis of Tuberculosis including new drug regimen development.
Dr Koul also serves as a member of the apex Scientific Advisory Board of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a premier scientific organization of the Government of India.