Prof. MAQSOOD SIDDIQI, is a cancer research scientist and before taking up the present assignment was the Director of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI), Kolkata (1995-2001). He has been the Professor & Chairman of Biochemistry Department at Kashmir University, Srinagar, J&K (1984-94) and was earlier associated with Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, J&K, the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg (Germany), International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon (France) and Paterson Institute for Cancer Research in Manchester (U.K.).

Although Prof Siddiqi has wide-ranging interests in cancer research and prevention, his discovery of two new cancer causing N-nitroso compounds (mononitroso caffeidine, MNC and dintrosocaffeidine, DNC) derived from caffeine, an important constituent of tea and coffee, has been internationally acclaimed. He succeeded in demonstrating that due to the typical method of preparation of salted tea, the caffeine in tea undergoes alkaline hydrolysis producing caffeidine and caffeidine acid. These compounds upon nitrosation under gastric conditions gave rise to four major products of which two were unknown nitroso compounds. All the major reaction products including the two new nitroso compounds have been synthesized and chemically characterized. The work was published in American Chemical Society journal Chemical Research Toxicology (6, 50-58.1993). Subsequent work by his team showed intragastric formation of nitroso-compounds and the demonstrated chronic exposure to alkylating nitroso-compounds using DNA-adduct dosimetry in local population. The carcinogenicity experiments on rats have demonstrated 93-100% nasal cavity tumors by MNC and squamous cell carcinoma of forestomach (100%) by DNC (Carcinogenesis, 19, 933-937, 1998). The induction of malignant tumors and distinct organ-specificity of these compounds in rats supports the postulate that a chronic exposure to these compounds due to the large consumption of salted alkaline tea may be responsible for providing severe carcinogenic risk to local population for high incidence of gastrointestinal cancers in Kashmir. The caffeine-derived N-nitroso compounds (MNC, DNC and DMNU), have since acquired immense importance as environmental carcinogens in other regions of the world too where alkaline conditions may be used for tea preparation intentionally or due to the high alkalinity of natural water. Due to its public health importance, the work has been prominently reviewed by popular press including scientific awareness journals (Times of India, New Delhi, 10-3-1994, Indian Express, 11-6-1986 and Einblick, in German, Jan,1993, Sunday (English Weekly, February 7-13, 1999).

Prof. Siddiqi's current interests include chemoprevention of cancer using tea polyphenols and other naturally occurring compounds as well as the etiology of environmental and genetically disposed cancers in India. His present work also includes molecular epidemiology of oral cancer and development of risk assessment models for different cancers. Prof. Siddiqi is known for establishing first population-based cancer registry (PBCR) in Calcutta and for initiating community based screening programmes for cervical cancer in rural Bengal.

Professor Siddiqi is member of a large number of professional committees and academic bodies related to scientific research and cancer control in India and abroad. He has represented the country in various international meetings on cancer research, planning and management of its prevention. He is a life member of Indian Association of Cancer Research, member European Association of Cancer Research, member of New York Academy of Sciences and is on the advisory board of Asia-Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. He has served as nominator for Nobel Prize, Roll of Honor candidates from India for UICC (Geneva) and also as nominator for General Motors awards in cancer from India. Prof. Siddiqi has received Appreciation Medal for outstanding research in Cancer from the Province of Pisa, Italy, at the International meeting on Genotoxicity of Diet and Cancer Prevention, 1997; American Cancer Society, News Services, Media Mention for selected cancer research work at the 2nd World Conference of Cancer Organisations, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 1999 and Life-time Achievement Award for cancer research at the International Breast Cancer Conference, 2000.
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