Sunetra Gupta

Last updated

Sunetra Gupta
Born1965 (age 5354)
Alma mater Princeton University
Imperial College London
Awards Rosalind Franklin Award
Sahitya Akademi Award
Scientific career
Institutions University of Oxford
Thesis Heterogeneity and the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases  (1992)

Sunetra Gupta (born 15 March 1965) [2] is a novelist, and Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford with an interest in infectious disease agents that are responsible for malaria, HIV, influenza and bacterial meningitis. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] She is a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award.

Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations.

University of Oxford Collegiate research university in Oxford, England

The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly referred to as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

Malaria mosquito-transmitted disease

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals caused by single-celled microorganisms belonging to the Plasmodium group. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death. Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If not properly treated, people may have recurrences of the disease months later. In those who have recently survived an infection, reinfection usually causes milder symptoms. This partial resistance disappears over months to years if the person has no continuing exposure to malaria.


Education and early life

Gupta was born in Calcutta, India to Dhruba and Minati Gupta. She trained in biology, holding a bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. [9] from Imperial College London.

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Princeton University University in Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.

Imperial College London public research university located in London, United Kingdom

Imperial College London is a public research university located in London, England. In 1851, Prince Albert built his vision for a cultural area composed of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Royal Colleges, and the Imperial Institute. In 1907, Imperial College was established by Royal Charter, bringing together the Royal College of Science, Royal School of Mines, and City and Guilds College. In 1988, the Imperial College School of Medicine was formed through a merger with St Mary's Hospital Medical School. In 2004, Queen Elizabeth II opened the Imperial College Business School.

Career and research

Gupta is currently[ when? ] Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford. She sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press. [10]

Princeton University Press independent publisher with close connections to Princeton University

Princeton University Press is an independent publisher with close connections to Princeton University. Its mission is to disseminate scholarship within academia and society at large.

She has been awarded the Scientific Medal by the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific research.

Zoological Society of London English learned society in zoology

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. It was founded in 1826.

Royal Society English learned society for science

The President, Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is a learned society. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society is the United Kingdom's and Commonwealth of Nations' Academy of Sciences and fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement.

The Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award was established in 2003 and is awarded annually by the Royal Society to a woman for an outstanding work in any field of Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It is named in honour of Rosalind Franklin and initially funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and subsequently the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) as part of its efforts to promote women in STEM. Women are a significantly underrepresented group in STEM making up less than 9% of the United Kingdom's full-time and part-time Professors in Science. The award consists of a medal and a grant of £30,000, and the recipient delivers a lecture as part of the Society's public lecture series, some of which are available on YouTube.

Gupta's portrait was on display during the prestigious Royal Society's Summer Science Exhibition along with leading female scientist such as Madame Curie in July 2013. [11]

Fictional work

Gupta wrote her first works of fiction in Bengali. She was the translator of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. She has published several novels in English. In October 2012 her fifth novel, So Good in Black was longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. [12]

Rabindranath Tagore Bengali poet and philosopher

Rabindranath Tagore, also known by his sobriquets Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi, was a Bengali polymath, poet, musician, and artist from the Indian subcontinent. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse" of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal".

Her novels have been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Southern Arts Literature Prize, shortlisted for the Crossword Award, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her novels include:

Related Research Articles

DNA vaccination vaccine containing DNA

DNA vaccination is a technique for protecting against disease by injection with genetically engineered DNA so cells directly produce an antigen, producing a protective immunological response. DNA vaccines have potential advantages over conventional vaccines, including the ability to induce a wider range of immune response types.

<i>Orthomyxoviridae</i> family of viruses that cause influenza

The Orthomyxoviruses are a family of RNA viruses that includes seven genera: Influenza virus A, Influenza virus B, Influenza virus C, Influenza virus D, Isavirus, Thogotovirus, and Quaranjavirus. The first four genera contain viruses that cause influenza in vertebrates, including birds, humans, and other mammals. Isaviruses infect salmon; the thogotoviruses are arboviruses, infecting vertebrates and invertebrates, such as ticks and mosquitoes.

Antigenic drift is a mechanism for variation in viruses that involves the accumulation of mutations within the genes that code for antibody-binding sites. This results in a new strain of virus particles which cannot be inhibited as effectively by the antibodies that were originally targeted against previous strains, making it easier for the virus to spread throughout a partially immune population. Antigenic drift occurs in both influenza A and influenza B viruses.

Don Craig Wiley American immunologist

Don Craig Wiley was an American structural biologist.

CD40 (protein) protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Cluster of differentiation 40, CD40 is a costimulatory protein found on antigen presenting cells and is required for their activation. The binding of CD154 (CD40L) on TH cells to CD40 activates antigen presenting cells and induces a variety of downstream effects.

Antigenic variation refers to the mechanism by which an infectious agent such as a protozoan, bacterium or virus alters its surface proteins in order to avoid a host immune response. It is related to phase variation. Immune evasion is particularly important for organisms that target long-lived hosts, repeatedly infect a single host and are easily transmittable. Antigenic variation not only enables immune evasion by the pathogen, but also allows the microbes to cause re-infection, as their antigens are no longer recognized by the host's immune system. When an organism is exposed to a particular antigen an immune response is stimulated and antibodies are generated to target that specific antigen. The immune system will then "remember" that particular antigen, and defenses aimed at that antigen become part of the immune system’s acquired immune response. If the same pathogen tries to re-infect the same host the antibodies will act rapidly to target the pathogen for destruction. However, if the pathogen can alter its surface antigens, it can evade the host's acquired immune system. This will allow the pathogen to re-infect the host while the immune system generates new antibodies to target the newly identified antigen. Antigenic variation can occur by altering a variety of surface molecules including proteins and carbohydrates. There are many molecular mechanisms behind antigenic variation, including gene conversion, site-specific DNA inversions, hypermutation, as well as recombination of sequence cassettes. In all cases, antigenic variation and phase variation result in a heterogenic phenotype of a clonal population. Individual cells either express the phase-variable protein(s) or express one of multiple antigenic forms of the protein. This form of regulation has been identified mainly, but not exclusively, for a wide variety of surface structures in pathogens and is implicated as a virulence strategy.

A blocking antibody is an antibody that does not have a reaction when combined with an antigen, but prevents other antibodies from combining with that antigen. This function of blocking antibodies has had a variety of clinical and experimental uses.

CEACAM1 protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Carcinoembryonic antigen-related cell adhesion molecule 1 (CEACAM1) also known as CD66a, is a human glycoprotein, and a member of the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) gene family.

Timothy "Tim" A. Springer, Ph.D. is an immunologist and Latham Family Professor at Harvard Medical School. Springer is best known for his pioneering work in discovering the first integrins and intercellular adhesion molecules (ICAMs) and elucidating how these cell adhesion molecules function in the immune system. His innovative use of monoclonal antibodies in his research paved the way for the development of therapeutic antibodies, known as selective adhesion molecule inhibitors, to treat autoimmune diseases. In recent years, Springer's research interest has expanded to include malaria, transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) signaling molecules, and von Willebrand factor.

Influenza infectious disease

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle pains, headache, coughing, sneezing, and feeling tired. These symptoms typically begin two days after exposure to the virus and most last less than a week. The cough, however, may last for more than two weeks. In children, there may be diarrhea and vomiting, but these are not common in adults. Diarrhea and vomiting occur more commonly in gastroenteritis, which is an unrelated disease and sometimes inaccurately referred to as "stomach flu" or the "24-hour flu". Complications of influenza may include viral pneumonia, secondary bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, and worsening of previous health problems such as asthma or heart failure.

Evolution of influenza

The virus causing influenza is one of the best known pathogens found in various species. In particular, the virus is found in birds as well as mammals including horses, pigs, and humans. The phylogeny, or the evolutionary history of a particular species, is an important component when analyzing the evolution of influenza. Phylogenetic trees are graphical models of the relationships between various species. They can be used to trace the virus back to particular species and show how organisms that look so different may be so closely related.

Adolfo García-Sastre, Ph.D., is a Professor of Medicine and Microbiology and co-director of the Global Health & Emerging Pathogens Institute at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. His research into the biology of influenza viruses has been at the forefront of medical advances in epidemiology.

Peter Palese American virologist

Peter Palese is a United States microbiologist and Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and an expert in the field of RNA viruses.

Olga Troyanskaya American academic

Olga G. Troyanskaya is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University and the Deputy Director for Genomics at the Simons Center for Data Analysis at the Simons Foundation in NYC. She studies protein function and interactions in biological pathways by analyzing genomic data using computational tools.

Gabrielle Belz Australian immunologist

Gabrielle Belz is an Australian molecular immunologist and viral immunologist. She is a faculty member of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, within the Molecular Immunology division. Belz has made important contributions to the understanding of immune system function, especially in relation to the molecular and cellular signalling pathways of immune response to viruses. Her research has focused on understanding the signals that drive the initial development of protective immunity against pathogen infections, such as influenza and herpes viruses. This includes research into how cytotoxic T cells recognise and remove virally-infected cells from the body following infection. Research into the description of the specific factors and response during infection will contribute towards the long term development of vaccines for infectious disease, and the development of better treatments for autoimmune diseases.

Akiko Iwasaki is a Professor of Department of Immunobiology and Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University. She is also a principal investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her research interests include innate immunity, autophagy, inflammasomes, sexually transmitted infections, herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus, respiratory virus infections, influenza infection, T cell immunity, and commensal bacteria.

Sean Nee is an evolutionary biologist and theoretical ecologist. He has been a Lecturer at Oxford University and Professor at the University of Edinburgh. He has published scientific research papers with ecologist Robert May, theoretical biologist John Maynard Smith and epidemiologist and novelist Sunetra Gupta.

Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) is a family of proteins present on the membrane surface of red blood cells that are infected by the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. PfEMP1 is synthesized during the parasite's blood stage inside the RBC, during which the clinical symptoms of falciparum malaria are manifested. Acting as both an antigen and adhesion protein, it is thought to play a key role in the high level of virulence associated with P. falciparum. It was discovered in 1984 when it was reported that infected RBCs had unusually large-sized cell membrane proteins, and these proteins had antibody-binding (antigenic) properties. An elusive protein, its chemical structure and molecular properties were revealed only after a decade, in 1995. It is now established that there is not one but a large family of PfEMP1 proteins, genetically regulated (encoded) by a group of about 60 genes called var. Each P. falciparum is able to switch on and off specific var genes to produce a functionally different protein, rendering evasion from the host's immune system. RBCs carrying PfEMP1 on their surface stick to endothelial cells, which facilitates further binding with uninfected RBCs, ultimately helping the parasite to both spread to other RBCs as well as bringing about the fatal symptoms of P. falciparum malaria.

Nina Papavasiliou researcher

Nina Papavasiliou is an immunologist and Helmholtz Professor in the Division of Immune Diversity at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Rockefeller University, where she was previously Associate Professor and head of the Laboratory of Lymphocyte Biology. She is best known for her work in the fields of DNA and RNA editing.

Memories of Rain is an English-language book written by Sunetra Gupta. This was Gupta's debut novel and was first published in 1992. The book was awarded Sahitya Akademi Award in 1996.


  1. "Sunetra Gupta". The Life Scientific . 25 September 2012. BBC Radio 4 . Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. "Weekend Birthdays", The Guardian , p. 51, 15 March 2014|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. Recker, M.; Pybus, O. G.; Nee, S.; Gupta, S. (2007). "The generation of influenza outbreaks by a network of host immune responses against a limited set of antigenic types". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (18): 7711–7716. doi:10.1073/pnas.0702154104. PMC   1855915 . PMID   17460037.
  4. Recker, M.; Nee, S.; Bull, P. C.; Kinyanjui, S.; Marsh, K.; Newbold, C.; Gupta, S. (2004). "Transient cross-reactive immune responses can orchestrate antigenic variation in malaria". Nature. 429 (6991): 555–558. doi:10.1038/nature02486. PMID   15175751.
  5. Gupta, S.; Snow, R. W.; Donnelly, C. A.; Marsh, K.; Newbold, C. (1999). "Immunity to non-cerebral severe malaria is acquired after one or two infections". Nature Medicine. 5 (3): 340–343. doi:10.1038/6560. PMID   10086393.
  6. Ferguson, N.; Anderson, R.; Gupta, S. (1999). "The effect of antibody-dependent enhancement on the transmission dynamics and persistence of multiple-strain pathogens". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96 (2): 790. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.2.790. PMC   15215 .
  7. Buckee, C. O.; Jolley, K. A.; Recker, M.; Penman, B.; Kriz, P.; Gupta, S.; Maiden, M. C. J. (2008). "Role of selection in the emergence of lineages and the evolution of virulence in Neisseria meningitidis". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105 (39): 15082. doi:10.1073/pnas.0712019105. PMC   2553036 . PMID   18815379.
  8. Sunetra Gupta on the Life Scientific
  9. Gupta, Sunetra (1992). Heterogeneity and the transmission dynamics of infectious diseases (PhD thesis). Imperial College London. EThOS
  10. Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine .
  11. "Indian woman scientist's portrait to be exhibited in Britain". The Times of India . Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  12. "biography". Sunetra Gupta. Retrieved 1 September 2013.