Dr. G. S. Bhattacharyya
CA-125, Sector 1,
Salt Lake, Kolkata - 700064
Dr. G. S.Bhattacharyya is a consultant at the Chittaranjan National Cancer
Institute in Kolkata, India. He is also in charge of the Department of Medical
Oncology of the Fortis Hospital, in Anandapur, Kolkata, as well as of the
Department of Medical Oncology in the AMRI Hospital of Dhakuria, Kolkata. Dr.
Bhattacharyya is a member of the European
Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the Breast International Group (BIG), the
IASLC Committee, and the incoming president of the Indian Society for Medical
and Pediatric Oncology (ISMPO). He has been a member of ISEH for two years, and
values ISEH’s excellent website, which helps him keep up to date on the latest
advances in the field of hematology and stem cell research.
Dr. Bhattacharyya began his career in 1984 as an
Assistant Clinical Research Officer at the Indian Council of Medical Research
in the School of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta. He was also a Principal
Scientific Officer involved in setting up the Sickle Cell Research Center at
Burla Medical College. This led to a keen interest in Hemoglobinopathy and Hemato-oncology.
Dr. Bhattacharyya had a few key mentors; Professor D J Weatherall, Professor
Asim Basu, Professor N. N. Sen, and Professor F. M. Goldman all impacted his
career path, as he became an expert in the fields of malignant hematology,
breast cancer, lung cancer, and innovative drug development.
Dr. Bhattacharyya was kind enough to answer some questions
There are a
lot of interesting aspects of this scientific field; what do you find the most
I am most excited by the field of cytokines and immune-oncology
and controlling the side effects of targeted therapy.
What is the
most exciting study or project happening at your lab/facility?
most exciting areas being studied are the interaction between coagulation and
angiogenesis; beta blockers, sympathomimetics and angiogenesis; and beta
blockers and COX-2 inhibitors, using m-TOR inhibitors.
How are you
helping to mentor new investigators at your lab/facility?
are working to develop protocols, generate ideas, and provide monitoring.
experience in the field, could you please elaborate on the changes that you saw
in the field during the past 5 years?
Studies into the molecular basis of disease have been able
to identify new variants of diseases in leukemia.
Targeted therapies have allowed for the use of drugs for
specific diseases and specific sub-types like Rituximab in Lymphoma; JAK
inhibitors in Myelofibrosis; and the scenario of myeloma changing with the use
There have been major advances in the control of side
effects, e.g. in the control of neutropenia. Better antibiotics have been
developed, which are able to control infections, which were once the major
killer in hematology.
Another great advance is in the use of extracellular matrix
drugs that modulate the matrix to prevent seedlings of cancer cells.
that the field is going to continue to evolve at an amazing pace. How do you
see it changing over the next five years?
Medicine will become based on the four P’s: predictive,
participatory, preventive, personalized. This will lead to an increase in survival with less toxicity, the treatment of most diseases as chronic
diseases, and effective and economical medicine.
What do you
consider the biggest challenge currently facing the hematology and stem cells
scientific field and how can it be managed?
Cost, availability and accessibility, and
Does your lab
have any big studies or projects planned in the near future?
we are planning to study the interaction between COX-2 inhibitors and non-selective
beta-blockers in multiple myeloma, as well as mTOR inhibitors in acute leukemia.
Why did you
decide to pursue your research career in your native country?
I chose to come back to India for a few reasons. One reason
is the different ethnic population. Indians and Asians are different from
Caucasians genetically, so pharmaco-genomics varies widely and hence
therapeutically is not relevant to this sub-group of population.
Another reason is the different socio-economical involvement.
As the socio-economic situation in developing countries is not the same as in
developed countries, the affordability of drugs and treatment becomes an issue.
So cost-effective and comparative efficacy research becomes important.
Additionally, there is a need in India to modify current and future
technologies to suit different ethnic groups as well as be available to people
in a variety of socio-economic situations.
What are the
challenges and the rewards of working as a researcher in India?
Challenges include access to funds; the regulatory
atmosphere; and a lack of awareness of clinical research among the media,
politicians, professional, patients and public.
biggest reward is having done something for the people who need you most.
How would you
describe the funding climate in your country for biomedical research in general
and for your specific type of research in particular?
Funds are limited and the geographical and socio-economical
diversity of India are handicaps to multi-centric research.
What advice do
you have for new investigators that are considering a return to your country to
conduct research in general and in your field of expertise?
Be focused. Choose relevant problems. Keep in mind
comparative efficacy research (CER). Believe in the principals of
What advice do
you have (if any) for your government to recruit high level researchers?
Develop 3 tier research systems at the Primary, Secondary,
and Tertiary levels.
Choose researchers appropriate for the positions available,
and gear up the administration and think tanks needed to develop and evaluate
If you could
meet one person (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
I would meet Dr. M. Wintrobe, because he was a great
teacher, great researcher, a man with integrity and insight, and he was almost
the father of Hematology.