UH Honors Late Dr. Lakshmi Putcha with a Symposium on Pharmacokinetics


Dr. Lakshmi Putcha

HOUSTON: A Research Symposium on “Pharmacokinetics: A Pivotal Link to Mechanistic Drug Research, Pharmaceutical Product Development and Clinical Therapy” was held on Friday, September 23, by the College of Pharmacy at the University of Houston in memory of late Dr. Lakshmi Putcha. It was a well-attended by over hundred people comprising of students, her colleagues from NASA/JSC and UH, her family and friends from various cities in USA.

Vasanta Lakshmi Putcha, a long-time resident of Houston, a role model, a respected NASA scientist, an intellectual and lover of Indian fine arts and a woman of many talents, passed away last September 28, 2015 after a tragic car accident after suffering a stroke while driving.


From left: Dr. Mohammad Tabrizifard, Dr. Sandy Pang, Dr. Diana Shu-Lian Chow, Dr. Girish Putcha,
Dr. Stuart Feldman, Mallik Putcha, Dr. Richard Brundage, Professor, Dr. Jitesh Kawedia.

Dr. Putcha, 68, was the Chief Pharmacologist at NASA-Johnson Space Center, having started her career as a post-doctoral fellow in 1982 and went on to develop cutting-edge applications for astronaut health care operations in space and on Earth. Over the course of her career, Dr. Putcha was awarded grants by the National Institutes of Health and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, to name just a few. Her contributions to the field of Pharmacotherapeutics include significantly expanding our knowledge of the wide-ranging effects of space flight on humans, as well as resolving critical human health and safety issues for future exploratory missions, including the upcoming missions to Mars.

The morning session of the Symposium began with a welcome by Dr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Interim VP for Research and Technology Transfer and opening remarks by Dr. Lamar Pritchard, Dean of Pharmacy. It was moderated by Dr. Diana Shu-Lian Chow, Professor of Pharmaceutics. The research papers were presented by

•Dr. K. Sandy Pang, Professor, University of Toronto
•Dr. Richard Brundage, Professor, University of Minnesota
•Dr. Mohammad Tabrizifard, Director, Biologics Discovery, Merck
•Dr. Jitesh Kawedia, Research Specialist, UT-MDACC

Vernie Daniels, Pharmaceutical Scientist/ Research Pharmacist, NASA/JSC presented a detailed account of the legacy of “Dr. Lakshmi Putcha in her hour long presentation entitled  “A NASA Pioneer of Pharmaceutical Science, Research, and Innovation”. Vernie Daniels presentation was very revealing on Dr. Putcha’s work as very few in the local community knew about the contributions of Dr. Putcha in academic, scientific, research and corporate circles of Pharmacokinetics all over the world. Her humility and simplicity in her personal and professional life dominated her accomplishments in the world of science which helped her to maintain a low profile as a friend and a caring mother amongst the Indo-American community. It was interesting to know of the long list of her achievements and it was also an inspiring experience to learn about the lifetime work of Dr Putcha.


Consul General Anupam Ray at Luncheon.

At the Luncheon, Honorable Anupam Ray, Consul General of India, touched on Dr. Putcha’s contributions to NASA in the area of Human Health and Performance. Dr. Stuart Feldman, Professor Emeritus University of Georgia and Graduate Advisor of Vasantha Lakhmi discussed her Masters and Ph. D research work.

Mallik Putcha and family announced the establishment the following Four Endowments at the University of Houston, Houston and Clear Lake Campuses:
•Dr. Lakshmi Putcha, Pharmacy
•Dr. Herb Hayre, Electrical and Computer Engineering
•Dr. Ben Ostrofsky, Industrial Engineering and Bauer College of Business
•Dr. Charles McKay, Software Engineering

Mallik spoke passionately about giving back to the University, the Professors, the City of Houston, State of Texas, and the United States of America for giving the opportunities to the Putcha family members and urged immigrant families to give back to this country to the extent possible.

Dr. Girish Putcha, a distinguished doctor & research scientist shared his personal insights and research contributions of his mother.

Toshy Hayre, wife of late Dr. Herb Hayre; Keri Pearlson and Tracy Ostrofsky, family of Dr. Ben Ostrofsky attended the Luncheon. Dr. Toshy Hayre appreciated and shared her thoughts on the establishment of the Endowments.