About the Department
The Department of Microbiology at the University of Dhaka has a long and distinguished history characterized by faculty and graduates who have made major contributions to higher education, science and technology, and public health issues in our country over the past four decades since its inception in 1979. The history of the Department is intermingled with the history of Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM). Activities and spearheading difficult work for the foundation of the Department was done by the late teacher and founding Chairman Professor Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury (Professor Chowdhury). For ca. 27 years the Department, he established was the sole Department in the university system in our country that has been established exclusively to offer “Microbiology” as a main subject of the academic degrees offered under the Biological Sciences stream.
The mission of the Department is to educate and train students in the discipline of Microbiology and to expand the body of knowledge of this scientific field through research relevant to our national interest, and to cater the increasing demand in the country for microbiologists. The vision of the Department is to offer undergraduate level courses to enhance the intellectual foundation and preparation of students for life in a complex and never ending dynamic technological world, to prepare graduate students (MS, MPhil and PhD) with in-depth knowledge and research skills for professional careers in Microbiology, and also to transmit knowledge in theory and practical aspects of Microbiology imperative for the development of the country. The Department additionally offers various services to outside bodies, including service for our citizens, government agencies, and industries that require expert advice about microorganisms and the roles they play in our health, economy, and sustainability of our natural resources.
There is immense opportunity within the field of microbiology for national and international context due to the involvement of microbiology in many fields like medicine, pharmacy, dairy, industry, clinical research, environment, food and beverage industry, agriculture, and biotechnology. First headed by Professor Chowdhury, the Department greatly expanded the number of faculty and student and strengthened the research program. The research at our Department, encompasses scientists studying a broad range of fields, is dedicated to unveiling knowledge that can be of real service to mankind. For more than 40 years, faculty members, students and researchers have been making strides in the development of many areas like food safety and technology, environmental pollution and bioremediation, industrially useful chemicals such as enzymes and polymers, discovery of antimicrobials, antibiotic resistance, microbial pathogenesis, the immune response to infection, and vaccine development in our country.
The Department is dedicated in providing the quality education, through both lectures and practical sessions, necessary to meet the needs of this growing field. The academic curriculum covers a wide portfolio of microbiology courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is a center of ability for various perspectives of the essentials of Microbiology and its application. Research activities in the Department are internationally recognized and focused on diverse aspects of microbiological processes that cover almost all the major areas of microbiology including food science, environmental science, medical science, public health, veterinary, pharmacy, virology, immunology, vaccine development, and biotechnology. Many of our researchers hope that their research would have some impact on solving numerous of our squeezing worldwide challenges, such as skyrocketing antimicrobial resistance, emergence of new infectious diseases, and the health of our planet’s ecosystems, which depend upon discoveries from basic microbiology research. To maintain and expand our vigorous participation in research, the Department strives to provide state-of-the-art research laboratory facilities and equipment. Some research projects are conducted through collaboration with and support from various prominent sources. Over the years, many research papers have been authored by Department members in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals.
The Department is proud enough to uncover that all of our aspirant graduates have high demand in both government as well as industrial sector. The department is capable of producing skilled microbiologists and educationists demanded by the leading public and private universities, research organizations, industries, and government and non-government organizations in Bangladesh. Graduates of our department go on to jobs in a wide variety of fields, not only at home, but also in a totally foreign culture, including health care, public health, diagnostic centers, food safety, pharmaceuticals, industrial microbiology, and scientific research at academic and government agencies. Our graduates have also been highly successful in obtaining doctoral and postdoctoral positions in leading laboratories at the top universities and research centers of the world and establishing rewarding careers as scientific investigators and educators.
2.1 The Start of the Department of Microbiology
The Department of Microbiology at the University of Dhaka, established in 1979, was not created overnight by providence endowed with miraculous power. It was an evolvement, an assertion of many years of talking and learning, of struggling and being struggled, in the motivation of our field of interest. No volunteer gesture of the past in the history of the University of Dhaka can match the achievement of the people who sacrificed and gave a great deal of their time and effort to start and develop the Department.
Virtually the Department of Microbiology starts from scratch – without noteworthy budget, infrastructure, equipment, or facilities. Volunteer ‘mid-wives’ had to attend the birth of the Department and ‘nurse’ it through its infancy. The aggregate contribution of those good people over the years is monumental. Without them there would be no such Department of our University. Among those good people, the man who gave untiring endeavors and devotion to ‘start’ and ‘get going’ the Department was Professor Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury (Professor Chowdhury) – the founder Chairman of the Department of Microbiology. He breathed his last due to sudden massive cardiac failure at the age of only 52 (08 January 1932 – 30 March 1984). The Department that he founded will forever remain a standing monument in affectionate remembrance of Professor Chowdhury. He, an ever smiling man of great heart and a deep sense of humor, passed away from us, but will remain in our memory as a symbol of love, affection, devotion, conscience and good human being. Professor Chowdhury was one of the founding members of the Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM) from 1976 to 1984 during which period the Society commenced publication of the Bangladesh Journal Microbiology with himself as the founder Editor. He was well known in his field and was invited to many international conferences. His excellence in teaching and communication attracted his students.
We shall also remain ever grateful to two other generous and enthusiastic patrons of the department. Major General (Dr.) Mahmudur Rahman Choudhury (Major General MR Choudhury) was a great man, great teacher, educationist and researcher, who suddenly fell prey of a massive heart attack and passed away at the age of 71 (01 June 1928 to 24 June 1999) leaving behind a host of students in this Department and across the world. We might stay ever thankful to him for his contribution to the blossoming of the Department of Microbiology. He organized the BSM in 1976 and was its founding President. Under his able leadership, the BSM over a short period of time succeeded in creating awareness about the importance of Microbiology in Bangladesh, and the history of Microbiology Department blends with the history of the BSM. He was awarded fellowships by the renowned and prestigious international and national scientific bodies. The monumental work for him was the publication of the very popular book “Modern Medical Microbiology”. He published more than 100 research papers in various professional journals and in recognition of his contribution the Government of Bangladesh awarded him the “Independence Day Award” – the highest civilian honor in the country – in 1977. The institution Major General MR Choudhury built up, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology & Transfusion (AFIP&T) also received the same award as a center of excellence later in 1987.
Professor Dr. Aminul Islam, an extremely enthusiastic teacher of Soil Science, was the Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the time the department was established. He had outstanding contribution during the formative stage of the department. He also supervised several students of the first few batches for their MSc thesis. He published 129 articles in the national and international journals. Professor Islam was the Vice-Chancellor, National University, Bangladesh (1996-2000) and Daffodil International University (2002-2011). He also served as the Dean, Faculty of Biological Science, DU for three terms (1977-1981, 1983-1985 and 1987-1989). He was the recipient of “Independence Day Gold Medal” in 1990 for contribution in Science and Technology. He was also awarded the prestigious the “Third World Academy of Sciences and Bangladesh Academy of Sciences Joint Gold Medal” in 1986 for contribution in research in Biological Sciences. A nationally well-known Soil Scientist, teacher and academic administrator and the former President of Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, Professor Emeritus Dr. Aminul Islam breathed his last at the age of 82 (01 January 1935 – 29 November 2017).
2.2 Historical Roots of the Department of Microbiology
The roots of the current Department of Microbiology date back to the early 1960s. A number of distinguished scientists at that time understood the importance of microbiological study and research in our country. In 1963, Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury returned home after completing his PhD from the University of Göttingen, Germany, and was appointed as a Research Associate in the then Department of Biochemistry. Subsequently, he became a Senior Lecturer. He made a profound impression in microbiological research. He, along with a few senior teachers, including Professor Dr. Kamaluddin Ahmed of the Faculty of Biological Sciences met the then Vice-Chancellor Professor M Osman Ghani several times to express their desire to open a microbiology section in their department. The Chairpersons of a few other departments also wrote a number of letters to the Vice-Chancellor in view to support the idea of introducing microbiological section in the University of Dhaka. In effect, a microbiology section in MSc level was established in the Department of Biochemistry. From that time on at least two other renowned and enthusiastic scientists, namely Major General (Dr.) Mahmudur Rahman Choudhury of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and Transfusion (AFIP&T) and Dr. Khawaja Muhammed Sultanul Aziz (Dr. KMS Aziz) of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr’b), gave their logistic support to Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury in the expansion of microbiological research. Their fervent devotion attracted a number of students and together they laid down the foundations of microbiological research in Bangladesh. The idea of creating an independent Microbiology Department was sprung.
Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury went again to the Georg-August University, Göttingen in 1966 to work as a research associate and spent three most useful years, but was burning with a sincere desire to establish the Microbiology Department at the University of Dhaka. He returned home from Germany again in 1969. In the same year the syndicate of the University of Dhaka approved the creation of the Department of Microbiology. Unfortunately, in reality it took almost a decade before the Department came into its existence. In 1970, Dr. Chowdhury was appointed as Associate Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biochemistry.
Six years later, in 1976, Bangladesh Society of Microbiologist (BSM) was founded by some eminent microbiologists of our country with its first President, Major General (Dr.) Mahmudur Rahman Choudhury (MR Choudhury) of the AFIP&T and first General Secretary Dr. KMS Aziz of the icddr,b. In the following years, BSM played supremely important role in the establishment of the Department of Microbiology. The BSM members assured the University to provide all sorts of support to the new Department. Another couple of years later, the University authority finally agreed to start the Department for the academic session 1978-1979. Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury was appointed as Associate Professor and Chairman of the newly formed Department and just a few months before his premature death he was very belatedly made full-fledged Professor.
2.3 Founding of the Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM)
The Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM) was formally inaugurated in 1976, when Microbiology was not receiving due importance in this country, after several meetings of its founder members in Dhaka. Major General MR Choudhury was elected as the founder President. The other original members of the Society were Professor Aminul Islam, Dr. KMS Aziz, Dr. Imdadul Huq, Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury, Dr. Farida Huq, Dr. Naiyyum Choudhury, Dr. SAM Khairul Bashar, Dr. Mahbubar Rahman Khan, Lieutenant Colonel (Dr.) ASM Matiur Rahman, Mr. GK Joardar, Dr. Syesd Salehin Qadri, Dr. Mamun Rashid Chowdhury, Dr. Mohosin Patwary, Dr. Fazle Rabbi, Dr. Ansar Ali, Dr. Shahjahan Kabir, Dr. Syeda Quadsia Akhter, Dr. Syed Ashraf Ahmed, Dr. Firdausi Qadri, Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah, Dr. M Showkat Ali, and Dr. MA Rahim. The Society gave a common assembly ground for researchers working in inquire about and in areas with applications in microbiology in Bangladesh, including medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmaceuticals, industries, agriculture, food, the environment and education. The thought was to bring individuals from distinctive foundations together to pick up the advantage of intrigue discourse and learning from each other. The aim of the founders is still, after long 44 years, central to the ethos of the BSM. The majority of the members of the Society were employed by universities, research institutes, health services, government agencies and small to multinational companies. The Society’s objective was to advance the art and science of microbiology in our country.
2.4 Bangladesh Journal of Microbiology – The Heart of the Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM)
The thought of propelling a journal risen since the beginning of the Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM), which at long last came genuine within the year 1979 due to the eager intercession into the matter by a few early members. The Bangladesh Journal of Microbiology has become the only official publication of the BSM. The logical substance, quality and approaches of the journal are controlled by the Editorial Board, subject to by and large endorsement of the Society. Right now, Chief Editor is helped by a ten-member Editorial Board, who coordinate the scientific aspects of manuscript review, and a Board of Advisory Editors comprising scientists and researchers of notoriety who can give counsel on particular issues and papers.
Professor Chowdhury, the founder Chairman of the Department of Microbiology of the University of Dhaka, was the first Editor of the Journal. The members of the BSM Executive Committee, chaired by Major General MR Choudhury, had the thought for the Journal and at the yearly common assembly of the BSM in Dhaka in 1978 it was formally reported that the journal would show up shortly. It was a desire that the proposed journal would give a gathering for microbiologists in Bangladesh who would concern with the microbiological research. The BSM published the first issue within the important year 1979 (the year Microbiology department was set up), with the Editor and the members of the Editorial Board supervising peer reviewing, and Dr. KMS Aziz took over the duty to publish the journal on sake of the BSM. The first issue was printed by the Presidency Printing Works in Banglabazar, Dhaka. The members of Editorial Board at the beginning were Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury (DU), Dr. KMS Aziz (icddr,b), Dr. Farida Huq (IPH), Dr. Flora Z Majid (BCSIR), Dr. MA Quasem Chowdhury (AFIP&T), Dr. Kazi Moshiur Rahman (IPGMR), Dr. Sujaet Ullah Chowdhury (BAEC), Dr. Mostafizur Rahman (DU) and Dr. TIM Fazle Rabbi Chowdhury (BAU).
Professor Chowdhury edited the first (in 1979) and the second (in 1981) issues of the Journal. He guided the new journal with incredible eagerness amid its developmental years. Those were the days when the BSM was not able to bring the Journal routinely due to a few major constraints, including limited funds, scarcity of papers, and Professor Chowdhury’s battle for the foundation of the Department of Microbiology within the University of Dhaka. As a result the second issue of Vol. I was published in 1981, and the following issues of Vol. 2 did not show up within the taking after a long time. Prof Chowdhury passed away on 30 March 1984. The first issue included seven original research articles and one review article. In addition, it contained an Editorial, and President’s (Major General MR Choudhury) and the Secretary’s (Dr. M Imdadul Huq) addresses on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting of the BSM.
As Professor Anwarul Azim Chowdhury merged with Infinity in 1984, Dr. KMS Aziz the President of the BSM at the time – took over the obligation to bring out the journal and be its next Editor. A new Editorial Board was formed and the other members of the Board were Dr. Major General Dr. MR Choudhury (AFIP&T), Dr. Syed Bazley Ali (DSO), Prof AKM Nurul Islam (DU), Dr. Syed Fazle Rabbi (BCSIR), Dr. Naiyyum Choudhury (AERE), Dr. Mahbubar Rahman Khan (DU), Dr. Zia Uddin Ahmed (icddr’b) and Dr. Kazi Abul Monsur (IPH). The second Editorial Board brought out the Vol. 2, No. 1 and 2 in one issue in 1985 with as it was six original articles that was dedicated to the memory of Professor Anwarul Azim Chowdhury. The issue also included a fabulous article entitled “Anwarul Azim Chowdhury The Uncut Diamond” to commemorate the triumph of the founder Editor that was composed by Professor Harun-ar-Rashid, an extraordinary companion of Professor Chowdhury. It is indeed befitting that the very Journal, Professor Chowdhury edited is paying tribute to this commitment. He remained creative, professionally, socially, and even in his writings. He has cleared out behind a void difficult to fill and an example difficult to mimic. He will survive within the hearts of all those who hold microbiology with the regard they merit.
Over a long time, the journal has developed in stature keeping its commitment to the progression of microbiology in our nation. Professor Zia Uddin Ahmed edited the Journal for long twelve years. Under his Editorship Vol. 4 (1) for June 1987 through Vol. 15 (1) for June 1998 comprising a total twenty issues had been published regularly. Professor Naiyyum Choudhury was the Editor for second longest period spanning six years. Under his Editorship nine issues of the Journal from Vol. 15 (2) for December 1998 to Vol. 20 (1&2) for June and December 2003 were published.
For some years, in 1985, 1986, 1988 and 1989, the proceedings of the BSM Annual General Meetings were published in the Journal, in the form of abstracts. Later, it was agreed that the abstracts would be published separately, in a new publication to be called the “Annual Conference of the Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists”, which would also serve as a house magazine of the BSM. A journal is very much a product of how it is perceived in the academic community and there is no doubt that it has been a continuing success. Over the years, the readership expanded both in terms of the sales and free distribution of the hard copy version of the Journal, and in terms of the numbers of people throughout the world who access us on the Web. The healthy continuing input of good quality submissions is another aspect of our success.
2.5 The Blossoming Decade (1979 – 1989) of the Department of Microbiology
There was always a ‘struggle for survival’ for the Department, right from the beginning, as a matter of fact. The Department struggled needlessly against so many handicaps as scarcity of space; lack of classroom, library, laboratory, office room, or even a waiting-room space; inadequate equipment; and other facilities. Virtually the office room and the laboratory of Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury at the Department of Biochemistry served for these purposes by Microbiology Department. The students of the first few batches also used to go places like International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Institute of Public Health (IPH), Bangladesh Council of Scientist at Industrial Research (BCSIR), Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and Transfusion (AFIP&T), Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) and Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorder (BIRDEM) to attend classes and for research works. Some classes were also held in the lecture room of the Department of Biochemistry, University of Dhaka
The heartening fact was that the people of good will, moderate ability and well dedication to the purposes of the Department had tremendously supported this Department during its infancy. These well-intentioned people took the responsibility in educating the students through their various capacities without their personal ambitions or individual temperaments. We thankfully recognize the commitments of the following individuals who have willingly contributed their knowledge, opinions and time to the development of this Department: Professor Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury (DU), Professor Dr. Aminul Islam (DU), Major General (Dr.) Mahmudur Rahman Chowdhury (AFIP&T), Dr. Khawaja Muhammed Sultanul Aziz (icddr,b), Dr. MA Rahim (Pfizer), Dr. Imdadul Huq (icddr,b), Professor Dr. Farida Huq (IPH), Mr. GK Joarder (BCSIR), Dr. Syed Ashraf Ahmed (BCSIR), Professor Dr. Mahbubar Rahman Khan (DU), Professor Dr. SAM Khairul Bashar (DU), Professor Dr. Naiyyum Choudhury (AERE), Dr. Syeda Quadsia Akhtar (icddr,b), Major General (Dr.) ASM Matiur Rahman (AFIP&T), Professor Dr. Syed Salehin Qadri (DU), Professor Dr. Mamun Rashid Chowdhury (DU), Professor Dr. M Rahmatullah (DU), and Professor Dr. Firdausi Qadri (DU).
Unless the momentum of these enthusiastic good people could carry over, the Department might never get past its juvenile stage and would functionally expire in infancy. Perhaps of greatest significance, the determined students at that time understood the frustrations of creating and expanding the Department to fulfil its dedicated purpose. Like older brothers and sisters looking after the young, they have sacrificed, helped and protected the Department through the years. Students to arrive at the Department-door in future years would be the benefactors of these unselfish contributions.
In 1982, the University authority had allocated a 900-square feet floor for the Department that situated in the western part of the vacated Science Library on the ground floor of the Department of Zoology. On request of Professor Anwarul Azim Chowdhury, his friend Professor Meer Mobashher Ali of the Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), voluntarily sketched a splendid design for the Department to fulfil its immediate needs. The new space comprised a classroom, three laboratories, a chairman room, a teacher’s room, a store, a space for office use and a large hall room. Unfortunately, when the construction works had been in progress, the founder of the Department, the great man, Professor Chowdhury breathed his last due to sudden massive cardiac failure on 30 March 1984.
On the last day of his life he visited his beloved Department and after that he also made a ‘farewell’ visit to his best friend Professor AM Harun-ar-Rashid of the Department of Physics. He told his friend that Microbiology Department would soon be receiving some equipment from his German friends. The departure of Professor Chowdhury was a tremendous blow to the infant Department. The equipment that his German friends had arranged to send for his Department had mistakenly found their way to Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Mymensingh. Nobody was there to rescue the equipment. It didn’t really matter for the Department where the equipment had gone, but death of Professor Chowdhury was really a shocking matter to the Department. The existence of the infant Department was seriously in question. Students who were studying microbiology got deeply frustrated due to uncertainty. Many arriving students who were roaming around the Department to get admission had lost their interest.
The emergency that comes out after the early demise of Professor Anwarul Azim Chowdhury did not span long. Luckily, Professor Dr. Mahbubar Rahman Khan of the Department of Botany on ask of the University authority took over as the Acting Chairman on 04 April 1984, and spared the Department from peril. He served for two and half years as the Acting Chairman and during his tenure the Department appointed four Lecturers, namely Dr. AKM Quamrul Hasan (08-05-1984), Dr. Ashfaque Hossain (25-06-1985), Dr. M Majibur Rahman (25-06-1985) and Dr. M Mahfuzul Hoque (25-06-1985). The dynamism of the Department revived again and it wasn’t just ‘breathing’. The new MSc students (fourth batch) were at that point not frightened to reach at the entryway of the department and continued their scholastic curriculum. The research organizations and our committed volunteer instructors gave the Department the same sorts of bolstering what they did for the going before a long time when Professor Chowdhury was in the Chair. Skilled, bold and decided students from different departments under Biological Sciences kept on arrive within the department to study Microbiology. The research organizations, the administration, the Faculty of Biological Sciences and the Department worked in harmony to develop this educational institute to serve the career development needs of our country.
On 02 August 1986, Professor Dr. Sirajul Islam Khan of the Department of Soil, Water and Environment (formerly Soil Science) was appointed as Assistant Professor of the Department of Microbiology and took duty as Chairman (03 September 1986 to 03 September 1989). He was fair wrapped up his PhD work and got back from Australia and holding up for his PhD conferred. He at the beginning was interested in research on rhizobial microbiota, and afterward he committed his work on environmental microbiology field, particularly on diarrhoegic bacteria. He had joint-venture research programs with the icddr,b, and Bergen University (Norway). He developed environmental research lab and supervised the first PhD student in this department. Dr. Khan enrolled seven additional faculty members over the course of his three-year tenure as Chairman. The new faculty members recruited included Dr. Mahjabeen Shahnaz (17-03-1987), Dr. Abul Kalam Azad (01-07-1987), Dr. M Abdul Malek (01-07-1987), Dr. M Mozammel Hoq (27-09-1987), Dr. Donald James Gomes (15-11-1988), Dr. M Anisur Rahman Khan (15-11-1988), and Dr. Sameera Sayeed (15-11-1988). Having spent 28 years as a faculty member within the Department and serving for two years as Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Jagannath University, Dr. Khan was well positioned to take the reins. He also served as the Director of Center for Advance Research in Science (CARS), the President of Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM), and Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences.
In September 1999, the Department shifted from Curzon Hall campus to the new building situated right beside the Science Library in the Mukarram Bhaban Compound. The Department occupied the ground floor and the first floor of the newly constructed five-storied building with a floor area of approximately 25,323 square feet. It was adequate to run academic and research activities in an appropriate manner. It has ten research and three practical laboratories, three lecture rooms and a gallery, a huge seminar library with a Computer Lab for Bioinformatics, a conference room, office rooms, and other facilities required for a modern educational and research institute. During the last decade two new state-of art-research laboratories, one of which a BSL-2 designation, have been developed. The Department houses several different specialized labs that feature their own unique state of the art equipment. The specialized research labs include: (1) Microbial Genetics and Bioinformatics Lab, (2) Environmental Microbiology Lab, (3) Microbial Biotechnology Lab, (4) Fermentation & Enzyme Biotechnology Lab, (5) Clinical Microbiology & Pathology, (6) Food Microbiology Lab, and (8) Virology & Immunology Lab. In addition, there are two other research labs designated as General Microbiology Lab. The research equipment in the Department permits our faculty and graduate students to carry out technically advanced research projects in microbiology.
During the last decade, research in the various fields of microbiology is greatly expanding and being significantly impacted by advancements in the cutting edge technology to include many diverse focuses as people begin to appreciate and accept the importance of microbes in our everyday lives, resulting in an increased demand for space. With the completion of the vertical expansion of the Science Complex Building in 2020, the Department has been given additional 10,917-square-foot space on its ninth floor. The space on the ninth floor would be devoted to research laboratories, offices, classrooms, and a gallery. Additional space enlarged the Department to its present 36,240 square feet.
3.2 Faculty and supporting staff
The Department itself employed so far 44 teachers on a full-time basis; some of them resigned from the Department. At present, it has 26 teachers, including 16 Professors, 2 Associate Professors, 3 Assistant Professors and 5 Lecturers. In addition, the Department regularly appoints teachers from other departments or institutes on a part-time basis for special courses. Currently, the Department also has 16 other non-academic supporting staff, including 1 Principal Store Officer, 2 Principal Technical Officers, 1 Senior Technical Officer, 1 Junior Librarian, 2 Laboratory Assistants, 1 Senior Assistant-cum-Typist, 1 Senior Peon, 2 Laboratory Attendants, 3 Office Supporting Staff, and 2 Cleaner.
3.3 Departmental welfare funds
3.3.1 Professor Anwarul Azim Memorial Fund
Professor Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury, the Founder Chairman, was exceptionally energetic around making assets accessible to students. In memory of him, the Department set up “Professor Anwarul Azim Memorial Fund” in 1996 for the welfare of the students of the Department. Commitments, essentially from the faculty and a few alumni members, have been made in his honor to expand the fund. Indeed, this scanty exertion, this fund is currently utilized to provide financial assistance within the shape of one-time stipend annually to a few merits but under-privileged students.
3.3.2 Microbiology Department of Dhaka University Trust (MDDU Trust)
The Department looks forward to raise funds in back of its scholastic needs and its future endeavor, and started a gathering pledges campaign within the year 2007. The USA-based Dhaka University Microbiology Alumni Association (DUMAA) shared eagerly for giving back to the Department that had given them so much. Amid 2007-2008, DUMAA begin off the formation of a blessing fund for the Department. With the support of the Department and liberal commitment of the alumni from around the globe, DUMAA in the long run created an endowment fund that has a board of trustee headed by the Chairman of the Department of Microbiology. The fund (roughly BDT 2.5 million) had been given over to the Department with an exhortation to fixed deposit the sum and to use not more than 50% of the benefit created each year for research, improvement, scholarships, consider credit and the like. In 2008, the fund is at long last assigned as the “Microbiology Department of Dhaka University Trust” (MDDU Trust). Over the year the Trust Fund comes up to more than BDT 6.0 million. A major component of this fund is comprised of alumni donations living at home and abroad, the faculty members, and also, humanitarian individuals with a preexisting connection to this Department, and who share its values and know about its activities also came forward to contribute to its success. In 2018, the Department entrusted one million from it to the university authority for the reason development of a modern floor for the Department.
3.4 Faculty activities, teaching, research and service
The Department of Microbiology continues its dedication to provide the quality education, through both teaching and research, necessary to meet the needs of this growing field. The faculty members in the Department are a major asset to their students and their community. Our faculty members have an assortment of science and research foundations and currently they aggressively pursue research in many areas of microbiology and other biological sciences. They frequently publish their research in international journals. Some areas where we have a long tradition of excellence are working with pathogens, immunology, virology, vaccine and drug development for infectious diseases, environmental biotechnology, fermentation biotechnology, food technology, enzyme technology and others. During the last decade two new state-of art-research laboratories, one of which a BSL-2 designation, have been developed. The activities of our department are consistently supported by research funding, secured by our faculty members that comes from various national and international agencies, and to some extent from industries.
In addition to teaching and research, the faculty members extend their services or volunteer work to the University and profession in various capacities like presenters at national and international conferences, participating on internal committees and advisory boards, hall administration, event management, decision-making councils of the University, as well as, sharing the necessary administrative and social work of the University and the community as a whole. The faculty members are also continuously supporting many other public and private universities regarding their various academic matters, and also serving as the expert members of the selection and advisory committees. Heartening fact that three of our senior professors had been appointed as Vice-Chancellors at the public and private universities, including Professor Dr. AKM Sirajul Islam Khan was the first Vice-Chancellor of Jagannath University (2006 to 2008); Professor Dr. M Majibur Rahman was the Vice-Chancellor of Stamford University Bangladesh (2008 to 2012), and Professor Dr. M Anwar Hossian has been serving as the Vice-Chancellor of Jashore University of Science and Technology (2017 to date).
Over the years faculty members contributed to the Department’s wellbeing and objectives through their teaching, research and scholarly activities, as well as service activities.
3.5.1 Tributes to Professor Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury
Professor Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury was the founder and the first Chairman of the Department of Microbiology at the University of Dhaka. After all, there had as of now been and would be numerous tribute composed about him. All the facts about his educational history and scientific accomplishments would be recounted many times over. Born in Faridpur, on 08 January 1932, Professor Chowdhury spent his early childhood till the partition of Bengal in 1947 in Calcutta (Kolkata). After moving back home he lived in Gandaria (Old Dhaka) with his parents. He passed the matriculation (SSC) examination of the Dacca (Dhaka) Board in 1948 under the Calcutta University syllabus as students of the Dacca Collegiate School. Later he took admission in the Jagannath College (now it is a university) and earned Intermediate (HSC) degree.
Professor Chowdhury received his BSc and MSc degrees from the Department of Soil Science, University of Dhaka in 1953 and 1955 respectively, and afterwards, he was appointed as a Research Fellow in the same department where he served in that capacity during 1957 to 1959. During that period, he developed a keen interest in microbiology and he confided his earnest desire to study microbiology in abroad to his best friend Professor Dr. AM Harun-ar-Rashid of the Physics department. Within a year he secured a German government scholarship and went to Germany in 1960. He earned a PhD in Microbiology from the Institute of Microbiology at the Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany in 1963. He gained his PhD in investigating how bacterial exoenzymes capable of degrading biopolymers such as poly-β-hydroxybutyric acid. His supervisor highly impressed about his research abilities and offered him to stay on and proceed his work in Germany, but he has chosen to return home. Heartening to note that Professor Chowdhury was an intimate friend of the world famous German microbiologist Professor Dr. Gerhard Gottschalk, who worked for his PhD in the same laboratory. Both of them completed their PhD in 1963 by Professor Dr. Hans Günter Schlegel, who was an authority in his field. Professor Gottschalk has 19 books on Good-reads with 10 ratings, and the most popular book is “Bacterial Metabolism”, which is well-known to every one of us.
After returning home, he was appointed as Research Associate in the Department of Biochemistry in 1963 and subsequently became a Senior Lecturer. In 1966, he went again to Germany with a Research Assistantship funded by the German Research Foundation and spent three more years in the same laboratory where he did his PhD. As a postdoctoral fellow, Professor Chowdhury worked together with Professor Gottschalk, who discovered the (R)-citrates synthase activity from cell‐free extracts of Clostridium acidi‐urici that catalyzes essentially the same biochemical reaction as the citrate synthase of the TCA cycle but differs in its stereospecificity. Their laboratory had provided insights into the mechanism of action of this synthase, which later assigned as EC 22.214.171.124. They jointly made a couple of research articles.
He returned home from Germany again in 1969 and within a year he was made an Associate Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biochemistry in 1970 where he served in that capacity for about nine years. He was committed to teaching and microbiological research. Through his outstanding leadership, and much hard work, Professor Chowdhury launched the Department of Microbiology in 1979 (academic year 1978-1979), and became its Founding Chair. He served initially as an Associate Professor and Chairman and thereafter as Professor.
Professor Chowdhury was very kind, empathetic, and passionate about his teaching and was well-known in his field as well he was invited to many international conferences. He was an external examiner for a PhD dissertation from abroad and jointly supervised a PhD candidate with Professor Dr. N Shaw of the University of New Castle. He published well over 50 research articles in international and national journals, and some of his selective articles are listed below:
1. Schlegel HG & Chowdhury AA. 1962. Hydrolysis of poly-β-hydroxybutyric acid by an exoenzyme. Naturwissenschaften. 49: 502–503.
2. Chowdhury AA. 1963. Poly-β-hydroxybutyric acid degrading bacteria and exoenzyme. Archiv für Mikrobiologie. 47(2): 167–200.
3. Gottschalk G & Chowdhury AA. 1969. Pyruvate synthesis from acetyl coenzyme A and carbon dioxide with NADH2 or NADPH2 as electron donors. FEBS Letters. 2(5): 342-344.
4. Dittbrenner S, Chowdhury AA & Gottschalk G. 1969. The stereospecificity of the (R)-citrates synthase in the presence of p-chloromercuribenzoate. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 36: 802-808.
Apart from his commitment to teaching and research, he also served with distinction in various administrative positions at University of Dhaka, such as the chair of the Department of Microbiology (01-07-1979 to 30-03-1984), Provost of the Shahidullah Hall, and a member of the Syndicate. He was one of founding members of the BSM from 1976 to 1984 during which period the Society commenced publication of the Journal with himself as the founder Editor.
Professor Chowdhury passed away on 30 March 1984. He was a visionary, leader, teacher, researcher, and an extraordinary mentor. He was willing to spend additional hours and indeed strolled the extra mile with his students in their journey to complete their studies. He truly cared about his students, and recalled them. He was superb in combining the qualities as a top rank researcher, a mentor, and an administrator. Nearly each day at the Curzon Hall campus, apparently on get-away, he went through hours composing at his work area, however, he continually took time for students, Hall administration and giving great exhortation. His insights, right-minded authority, and warm personality were motives to all who knew him.
3.5.2 Tributes to Professor Dr. Naiyyum Choudhury
Professor Dr. Naiyyum Choudhury was recognized as an exceptional teacher, mentor and colleague, and was known for delivering engaging lectures pertinent to both biotechnologists and microbiologists.
Professor Choudhury was born in Comilla on 27 September 1946. He did his BSc (Hon’s) and MSc in Biochemistry in 1966 and 1967 respectively from the University of Dhaka. He earned his PhD from the School of Biotechnology, University of New South Wates, Australia in 1982 and Post-doctoral Fellowship in 1988-1989 at the Institute of Hygiene and Toxicology, University of Karlsruhe, Germany.
He was a very versatile person and occupied many prestigious academic and administrative positions amid his life time. He spearheaded the advancement and adoption of the National Biotechnology Policy of Bangladesh. He served in many important positions in Bangladesh, including as the Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC). He was serving as the founding Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA) at the time of his passing.
He served in the Department of Microbiology nearly four decades right from its inception as an adjourn teacher, and also as a core faculty for a brief period of time (01-11-1993 to 31-07-1994). Amid that period he was designated as a Professor and thereafter the Chairman (18-11-1993 to 31-07-194) of the Department. He also served as Professor and Coordinator of Biotechnology at BRAC University, and as a faculty member in Jahangirnagar University and BUET.
Professor Choudhury was intimately connected with many national and international scientific bodies. He was the IAEA Regional Cooperation Agreement (RCA) Chairperson. He was elected President of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Scientists Association (BAESA) for consecutive two terms. He became a member of the New York Academy of Science and British Society for Applied Bacteriology in 1989. He was the President of a number of scientific professional bodies, including Bangladesh Association of Scientists and Scientific Professions (BASSP); Bangladesh Biochemical Society, Bangladesh Tissue Banking Association, Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (BSM), and Bangladesh JSPS Alumni Association.
Professor Choudhury also organized a number of international seminars and symposiums. He published more than 150 papers in national and international journals. He edited a number of International Symposia Proceedings and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Bangladesh Journal of Science and Technology and Editor of the Bangladesh Journal of Microbiology. He made significant commitments in the field of food microbiology, microbial biotechnology, food irradiation and other peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He has 31 international publications, 96 national publications and edited 5 books and proceedings, and written 18 articles.
For his exceptional commitment in science, Professor Choudhury received the Bangladesh Journalists’ Association Award, 2000 and Zaki Memorial Gold Medal Award, 2000. He was awarded the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences–Dr. MO Ghani Gold Medal in 2002 for his outstanding contribution in science and technology.
Professor Dr. Naiyyum Choudhury passed away on 07 September 2019. He was a thorough gentleman, an amazingly humble human being, and had an irresistible sense of humor. He will be beyond a reasonable doubt recollected by all his students and colleagues as a tender and cherished teacher who gave his best to his students till the final day and as an individual of most elevated judgment, trustworthiness and sincerity. The fastidious way in which he prepared and delivered his lectures has been broadly acclaimed by all his students across four decades, who still remember him for his extraordinary teaching abilities.
3.5.3 Tributes to Professor Dr. AKM Sirajul Islam Khan
Professor Dr. Sirajul Islam Khan was a great teacher, and most of his students would attest to his insights, sharp wit and an extraordinary sense of humor. He taught and supervised numerous students over a period traversing nearly 28 years (02-08-1998 to 30-06-2014) in the Department of Microbiology where he served in various academic ranks including Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and finally full Professor.
Professor Khan received his BSc (Hon’s) and MSc (Thesis) from the Department of Soil, Water and Environment (formerly Soil Science) at the University of Dhaka, and thereafter appointed as a Lecturer in the same department. He was the recipient of a Colombo Plan Scholarship for his doctoral studies at the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia, and the recipient of a European Commission scholarship for his post-doctoral studies at the Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, United Kingdom. He was also a Senior Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellow.
Professor Khan was actively involved in various academic and administrative activities relating to education and research till he breathed his last. He was the founding Vice Chancellor at Jagannath University, Dhaka from 08 February 2006 to 26 July 2008. As Vice Chancellor, he led comprehensive reforms of the educational and academic system, implementing the semester system at Jagannath University, opened ten departments and modern laboratory facilities, and standardized staff recruitment procedures. He was also the Chairman of the Department of Microbiology, University of Dhaka (03-09-1986 to 03-09-1989), Dean of the Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Dhaka (1997-1999), Director of the Centre of Advanced Research (CARS), University of Dhaka (2004-2005), President of the Bangladesh Society of Microbiologists (2004-2008), and Chairman of Center for Advanced Research in Sciences. Subsequent to his retirement, he continued his passion for academia and served as Professor and Dean of School of Health and Life Science at the North South University.
Professor Khan was committed to educating and research and he anticipated his colleagues to have comparatively high standards. He did not waver to talk with them when he felt that they required to progress. He was instrumental in setting up a state-of-the-art research facility at the Microbiology Department and guided several faculty members and students to achieve high levels of excellence in microbiological research. He specialized in the areas of water-borne infectious agents and environmental sciences, especially on water microbiology. He has invented techniques facilitating isolation and identification of microbes, and has designed innovative techniques for cell repair and resuscitation, culture media designing and recovering of non-culturable microbes from the environment. His international collaborations have included partnerships with Institut Pasteur in Paris, France, Bergen University in Norway, Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Copenhagen University in Denmark, and Freiberg University Germany. Student researchers in these collaborative projects have been conferred post-graduate or doctoral degrees. He presented papers and posters nearly twenty international seminars and conferences in the Americas, Europe and South and East Asia. He is also the author or co-author of more than hundred publications in peer-reviewed journals.
Professor Dr. Sirajul Islam Khan died on 14 December 2019. He had been very active in professional service. He was not only an outstanding researcher and intellect, he was moreover a liberal and highly-regarded leader, and mentor. His passion and advocacy in environmental microbiology research stimulated countless research careers, having been inspired by Professor Khan’s mentorship from a very early career stage. Many of his students are presently occupying important positions in reputed institutions, both in Bangladesh and abroad. The Department of Microbiology has benefitted significantly from his contributions, and also he made an impression on so many people and will be greatly missed by all who had the privilege to know him.
To begin with headed by Professor Dr. Anwarul Azim Chowdhury, the Department of Microbiology incredibly expanded the number of faculty and student and reinforced the research program. Intermittent reviews of the curriculum kept the programs current with modern advancements in the discipline, and more courses in microbiology are added to the course curriculum. The research at our Department is devoted to disclosing information that can be of genuine benefit to mankind. After graduating from the Department, almost one-fourth of students further their studies leading to the highest academic degree, PhD, at the top international universities around the world. The works get done, since the original concept is still lively, as a result well-run Department can still do more for its students. Our mission is to provide amazing classroom teaching coordinates with pertinent research and practical experiences that will get ready students to be imaginative and learned experts within the microbiological sciences, as well as engaged citizens. With this concept in mind, the teachers of the Department can rest assure that their considerable commitments of time and endeavors are well spent through and profoundly beneficial in terms of human wellbeing.
For further information please visit the Department of Microbiology Website