The Prof. R. Nath Gold Medal was awarded to Dr. Prasanna Honnavar in recognition of his research in the field of Biomedical Science for the year 2016. The award ceremony was held at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), in Chandigarh, India (one of the premium postgraduate medical institute) in the presence of honorable Union Minister of Health Shri J. P. Nadda, Government of India.
Dr. Prasanna Honnavar identified and characterized a kind of yeast that grows on oily skin and cause severe dandruff. Dr. Honnavar hopes that this will help in finding a cure for dandruff, which has no permanent cure, keeps recurring and requires continuous treatment.
The yeast belongs the to the Malassezia genus. Till now, only two species, namely Malassezia restricta and Malassezia globosa were known to be the most common causes of dandruff. The new species was named Malassezia arunalokei. The study was conducted in collaboration with Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh. The yeast was named the new species after their mentor Dr. Arunalaloke Chakrabarti who is the head of medical microbiology department (PGIMER).
Dandruff is a very common skin problem and till now two species of Malassezia yeasts were known to be the main factors causing it. Dr. Honnavar wanted to find out if there is any other species of Malassezia that causes severe dandruff. The purpose of the study was to find out what exactly caused severe dandruff and later to find an antifungal drug for its treatment.
During the three-year-long study 200 patients having different degrees of dandruff and 100 healthy individuals from urban and rural areas of north India were enrolled. Dandruff scales and skin swabs were collected from the scalp and nasolabial folds respectively. After examination it was found Malassezia arunalokei was the cause of severe dandruff in 14 cases. After the completion of the study the new species isolates were submitted to the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute, The Netherlands.
The study entitled “Malassezia arunalokei sp. nov., a novel yeast species isolated from seborrheic dermatitis patients and healthy individuals from India,” has been published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, (Publisher-American Society for Microbiology). So far, the research has been cited in 33 other research articles. Xavier University School of Medicine is very happy that Dr. Honnavar was recognized for all of his hard work and dedication!