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Senior IIT-B faculty involved in Covid-19 projects succumbs to post-virus complications

A senior faculty member of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), who was involved in multiple Covid-19-related research and innovation, passed away on Thursday
By Priyanka Sahoo, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 09, 2021 11:51 PM IST

A senior faculty member of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), who was involved in multiple Covid-19-related research and innovation, passed away on Thursday.

Rinti Banerjee, 50, professor in the biosciences and bioengineering department of the institute, succumbed to post-Covid-19 complications. She is survived by her husband and a son.

Banerjee was spearheading three research projects on Covid-19 and had filed for multiple patents for the solutions designed.

Last year, her team of one PhD and three post-doctoral research fellows developed a wash-resistant biodegradable coating for textiles for environment-friendly masks and PPEs. This coating, known as the Duraprot technology, crosslinks antibacterial and antiviral components onto the textile’s fibres through a simple dipping process.

Duraprot is awaiting two patents. The technology was mounted on masks, which have now been commercialised.

“Rinti Banerjee has undoubtedly been the brightest star among the Indian researchers in the area of biosciences. During this pandemic, she came up with several Covid-related inventions that have been commercialised also. She was quite young and held a lot of promise. It is not only a loss to her family and IIT-B, it is a great loss to the nation. The pandemic has snatched her from us too early,” said Subhasis Chaudhuri, director, IIT-B.

Apart from her research, Banerjee also taught ‘Introduction to Bionanotechnology, Biomaterials, Advanced Biomaterials, Physiology for Engineers’ at IIT-Bombay. She joined the institute as an assistant professor in 2001.

Banerjee’s colleagues and students, from various institutes, were shocked to hear of her passing. Kapil Punjabi, a post-doctoral research scientist, who worked with Banerjee said: “‘Certain things are not in our control Kapil,’ I remember these words from (Banerjee) madam while discussing one of my problems last year. I never knew she was giving a life lesson and preparing me for the worst expected. She plays an instrumental role in shaping my career, instilling in me the sense of pertinent research, genuine persona and dignified human being. The traits I shall forever be debt-ridden to her. Touching upon lives of hundreds of students I am sure each one is now bearing in them a part of your knowledge and continues the legacy of nanomedicine lab IIT-B.”

Abhijit Majumder, an associate professor from the Chemical Engineering department, said, “We shared many committees and she always gave me very useful suggestions whenever needed. She was very approachable. I also invited her to our Navratri women in stem celebration in 2018.”

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