Wed. Dec 1st, 2021

European Inventor Award: Recognising Innovations by Transcending Boundaries

Sumita Mitra

Indian origin scientist Sumita Mitra honoured at European Inventor Award 2021

A smile is a wonderful thing. Smiles don’t only make our faces beautiful, but it also makes us healthy. And when you smile with your heart out the most noticeable things are your teeth. A well-sized and well-assembled set of teeth even fortifies the smile and helps you look more beautiful. This is not to generalise the concept of beauty, but to value the universal aesthetic sensibility of beauty. 

Adding values to someone’s smile isn’t all that a set of well-sized and well-assembled teeth does. It helps individuals in many ways such as chewing food properly, making the face structure better and speaking clearly. 

Many people across the world feel under confident due to their uneven-sized or broken teeth. This is where orthodontists help them to get their teeth in proper shape and size. Many of us have seen some people around us using dental braces or prosthetic teeth. For many years before the invention of Filtek Supreme, Orthodontists were using traditional materials to repair broken teeth or . Filtek supreme is just as hard as tooth enamel. 

The chief scientist behind this wonderful invention is Sumita Mitra. This invention makes Sumita Mitra the winner of European Inventor Award 2021 in the Non-EPO countries category. This is a great feat for any Indian or Asian scientist to achieve.

Something About European Inventor Award

The European Inventor Award is one of Europe’s most prestigious honours for innovation. Launched by the EPO in the year 2006. It felicitates individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of the contemporary world. The finalists and winners are selected by an independent jury consisting of international authorities from the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research who examine the proposals for their contribution towards technical progress, social development, economic prosperity and job creation in Europe. The Award is conferred in five categories (Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement). In addition, the public selects the winner of the Popular Prize from among the 15 finalists through online voting.

The European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO’s centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world’s leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

The natural tooth is made up of two tissues: the underlying, resilient ‘dentin’ and the overlay ‘enamel’ of a very hard and strong enamel. And we wanted to invent one material that would fulfil both functions. Something that would be as strong as a tooth and also have the lustrous beauty of natural enamel

Here is the edited excerpts of an interview with Sumita Mitra:

1) Tell us something about your journey as a Chemical Scientist? What have been your special moments?

Even as I was child I was always interested in materials. Soon I came to realize that the secret is in the molecular makeup if men your atrials – it is chemistry that makes one material different from another. This is how my love affair for chemistry begun. My father was a chemist and I had the privilege of seeing him work in his lab and in the manufacturing plant. These were my first lessons in seeing science being transformed into something useful for people. I was fortunate to have a very good chemistry teacher in school who encouraged me to pursue chemistry seriously. After high school, I studied chemistry honors at Presidency College in Kolkata (now Presidency University) and later at the Science College of Kolkata University. After my M.Sc. Degree, I came to the US to study and pursue my Ph.D. in organic/polymer chemistry followed by a post doc in Macromolecular Science. I was always intrigued about the application of chemistry for the health care sector, so the emphasis of my research has been in biological materials. My Ph.D. was in determining the three-dimensional structure of ribonuclease using chemical agents.

After I joined 3M Company, my initial work was in controlled release drug delivery systems. Later I joined the Health Care business of 3M Company in the Dental Products laboratory and worked in developing several new technology platforms that were subsequently translated into products for dental restoration and preservation. This is where the idea of using nanotechnology to make novel dental nanocomposites with unique and useful properties emerged.

2) When do you think of Science Education in India, what are your impressions?

As far as science education is concerned, India has some of the best educational institutions in the world that excel in science. Today, a large chunk of credit for my success goes to the solid background and training I received while in India. I would encourage students to pursue training in science and technology areas. Some of the publications I get to see coming from Indian scientists are of world-class quality.

3) Where do you see India’s progress as far as nanotechnology is concerned?

Based on my reference to some publications coming from India, it appears me that India lays emphasis on nanotechnology in a good way. It gives me pleasure to see work being done in this rapidly developing field.

4) Any other specific treatment area where nano-technology can play a huge role?

There are many areas, actually. Nanoparticles are extremely useful for targeting the delivery of therapeutic agents to tumor sites. The use of lipid nanoparticles of course has been a huge boon in delivering vaccines (mRNA vaccines for COVID-19). Other uses are for medical imaging and for nanosensors.

5) Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

At this time I serve as an independent consultant. Most of my time and efforts these days goes into encouraging students in pursuing STEM education. I am involved in multiple programs geared towards working with students all the way from elementary school to university level. Our children are the future of the world. It is imperative to train as many students as possible in science related fields.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *