Indian born chemist Sumita Mitra has been an inspiring figure for many entrepreneurs and professionals worldwide, especially women. She has been a true success story of how perseverance and hard work can lead to success in life. A small-town girl from India, Sumita Mitra walked up in the career ladder in the US, and has won many accolades as a scientist. In June this year, she was awarded the European Inventor Award 2021 for her contribution in the field of dentistry. She was awarded in the “non-European Patent Office countries” category.
Sumita Mitra used nanotechnology in dentistry and found a technique of incorporating nanoparticles into dental materials produces fillings with improved strength, wear-resistance and long-lasting polish. Her invention has been used in more than one billion tooth restorations worldwide.
“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 also had a very good chemistry teacher in school who encouraged my interest in chemistry.” says Sumita Mitra.
She went to the US after her M.Sc. degree to study and pursue Ph.D. in organic/polymer chemistry followed by a post doc in Macromolecular Science.
“I was always interested in 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. I became interested in the emerging nanotechnology and saw the opportunity to use it to make novel dental nanocomposites with unique and useful properties.” Sumita Mitra further adds.
What is European Inventor Award?
The European Inventor Award is one of Europe’s most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the EPO in 2006, it honours individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. 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.