Kashmir born scientist receives ‘Heroes of Chemistry’ award in US for discovering new TB drug

Dr Anil Koul (Source: In Vivo Pharma www. invivo.pharmaintelligence.informa.com)

Srinagar: A Kashmir-born scientist has received the coveted American Chemical Society’s (ACS) ‘Heroes of Chemistry’ Award 2020 for discovery of Bedaquiline (BDQ), a path-breaking drug for treating Tuberculosis.

Dr Anil Koul, who was born in Srinagar’s Bana Mohalla, is currently Vice President and Head for Global Public Health Discovery Research and Partnerships at Johnson and Johnson (J&J).

The other members of his team who were recognized for the discovery of Bedaquiline are Dr Koen Andries and Dr Jerome Guillemont.

“Honored by American Chemical Society for discovery of Bedaquiline (BDQ) for TB treatment. BDQ accessed in 141 countries. ACS nonprofit org chartered by U.S. congress,” Dr Koul wrote in a tweet on Friday.

Dr Koul also serves as a member of the Board of Directors at Janssen Pharmaceuticals NV, European unit of J&J and CSIR’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Till recently he served as Director of Government of India’s premier biotechnology laboratory, CSIR-IMTech (Institute of Microbial technology).

ACS is a one of America’s biggest non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. congress and this award recognizes scientists whose innovative work lead to products that benefit the world.

In an official video statement, the ACS said: “We honour Dr Jerome Guillemont, Dr Koen Andries, and Dr Anil Koul, a team of researchers at Jannssen pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, whose work led to the development of Bedaquiline, the first novel TB medicine to be developed in over 40 years.”

“This oral medication is an essential component of treatment regimens for all pulmonary drug-resistant tuberculosis patients, bringing improved treatment outcomes and new hope to patients around the world,” it added.

Dr Koul’s role in the discovery and development of Bedaquiline – the first drug to be approved in over four decades for treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis, is a major landmark in his career.

He has more than 20 years of experience in scientific innovation and is bestowed with many awards including the ‘Sun Pharma Research Award’ and the ‘Johnson Medal’.

Till date, Bedaquiline has reached to more than 200,000 patients in 131 countries and is on list WHO’s list of essential medicines.

With over 10 million cases and 1.6 million deaths each year, Tuberculosis is the world’s deadliest infectious disease claiming 4000 lives every day. Growing resistance to the most powerful TB medicines is a growing health concern and today drug resistant TB is responsible for one-third of all deaths caused by anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

There is an urgent need to treat tuberculosis yet for decades innovation in this space was largely dormant.

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About the Author

A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.

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