Upasana Ray, Ph.D., MRSB

Principal Scientist & Deputy Head (Infectious Diseases and Immunology), Assistant Professor (AcSIR), SERB-POWER Fellow
Infectious Diseases and Immunology

Research Interest

  1. Studying host-virus interactions leading to expanding understanding of mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and identification of targets of antiviral intervention.
  2. Exploring antiviral vaccine platforms based on virus like particles and self-assembling biomolecules.

Our laboratory currently focuses on studying molecular crosstalk between host and viral proteins with respect to single stranded positive sense RNA viruses, Dengue virus and SARS-CoV-2.


  • Senior Scientist {CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Kolkata} and Assistant Professor (AcSIR - Academy of Scientific & Innovative Research). 2018-Present.
  • SERB-POWER fellow (2021 onwards)
  • Ramalingaswamy fellow (September 2017-September 2020)
  • Ramanujan fellow, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur (2016-2017)
  • Post-doctoral Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States (2012-2015)
  • PhD., Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore (2006-2012)

Honours & Awards


  1. Ambassador of the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), 2023
  2. Valuable Member of the Year' award by Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS), 2022
  3. SERB POWER fellowship, Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), 2021
  4. SERB Women Excellence Award. Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), 2019
  5. Early career research award. SERB, 2019
  6. Ramalingaswamy fellowship. Department of Biotechnology (DBT). 2016
  7. Ramanujan Fellowship. SERB, 2015
  8. INSA Medal for Young Scientists. Indian National Science Academy (INSA), 2015
  9. Federal Technology Transfer Award. National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2014
  10. Fellows Award for Research Excellence. NIH. 2013
  11. Best poster award (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore). 2009
  12. Junior Research fellowship (UGC-CSIR). 2006


Other Honours/ Elected Memberships: 

  1. Featured under ‘Future Hopes’ in the book 'Vigyan Vidushi' - 75 Women Trailblazers of Indian Science by Vigyan Prasar (March, 2023)
  2. Invited associate editor for Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology journal. (Section: Virus and Host).
  3. Invited as a panelist by Reddot Foundation on Women in STEAM-3Cs (challenges, capabilities and collaboration) at the RISE World Summit 2023 (February, 2023)
  4. Interviewed by Reddot Foundation and Beyond Black published the interview as a part of vedio recordings for She Is: Women in STEAM.
  5. Showcased in the book She Is: Women in STEAM, a collaborative work of Reddot Foundation, office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to GoI and British High Commission on the occasion on India’s 75th anniversary of independence-Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. (Released in 2022). The book was launched at the residence of the British High Commissioner on 21st September, 2022 by PSA and British High Commissioner. (Invited for the launch event).
  6. Featured in “Women in STEM: Vanguards of India@75”.  It was launched at Women in STEM Summit hosted by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with Vivify media. Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India released this. Link: http://online.anyflip.com/sruan/adwe/mobile/
  7. Elected as member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) {hosted by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Halle (Saale), Germany}. This membership is meant for serving GYA for a term of 5 years. Acted as a co-lead for the ‘women in science’ working group of GYA. (membership tenure: 2022-2027)
  8. Invited for panel discussion by Rajya Sabha TV (India fights back:Tackling mutated strains) (February 2021)
  9. Invited for a live show on ‘Barkha Dutt Live’ on ‘How Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine, cleared by Government, will work & the link to Chimpanzees’. Interviewed by television journalist Ms Barkha Dutt. (January 2021)
  10. Included as a part of STEM Women ASIA (an initiative by Australian Academy of Science, AASSA and IAP, InterAcademy Partnership). I was invited to be a part of the official launch of STEM Women Asia as an inaugural member. The event was hosted by Australian Academy of Science. (September, 2021)
  11. Selected for oral presentation at Commonwealth Science Conference 2021 (Nomination mode; Nominated by INSA). Delivered talk on “The Effort to Develop and Manufacture Vaccine against COVID-19 in India” (Theme: Science for a Resilient Future)
  12. Elected full membership of the Royal Society of Biology. Royal Society of Biology (RSB)
  13. Elected member of INYAS (2017-2022) and coordinator of INYAS Kolkata-Bhubaneshwar Local Chapter (2021-2022)

Grants & Supports

  • SERB, DBT, INSA, CSIR, West Bengal government

Patents & Publications

Pubmed and Google Scholar links:




  1. Begum F, Srivastava AK, Tripathi PP, Ray U. A substrate for a cell free in vitro assay system to screen drugs targeting trypsin like protease-based cleavage of SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein and viral entry. J Med Virol. 2023 May;95(5):e28796. doi: 10.1002/jmv.28796. PMID: 37218551.
  2. Begum F, Srivastava AK, Ray U. Repurposing nonnucleoside antivirals against SARS-CoV2 NSP12 (RNA dependent RNA polymerase): In silico-molecular insight. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2021. 16;571:26-31. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.07.050. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34303192; PMCID: PMC8282484.
  3. Begum, F.; Banerjee, A.K.; Ray, U. Mutation Hot Spots in Spike Protein of SARS-CoV-2 Virus. Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy. 2020 (10.16943/ptinsa/2020/155492)
  4. Begum, F.; Ray, U. Immunity passport against COVID 19. Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy. 2020. (10.16943/ptinsa/2020/155492)
  5. Dey J, Alam MT, Chandra S, et al. Neuroinvasion of SARS-CoV-2 may play a role in the breakdown of respiratory center of the brain. J Med Virol. 2020 Sep 16. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26521. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32964419.
  6. Begum F, Ray U. Polymonoclonal (Not Polyclonal) Antibodies Derived from Convalescent Human B Cell Hybridomas Might Be a Better Therapeutic Option than Single Target Monoclonal Antibodies. ACS Pharmacology & Translational Science. 2020 Aug;3(4):786-787. DOI: 10.1021/acsptsci.0c00084.
  7. Begum F, Mukherjee D, Thagriki D, et al. Analyses of spike protein from first deposited sequences of SARS-CoV2 from West Bengal, India. F1000research. 2020 ;9:371. DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.23805.1.
  8. Saha P, Banerjee AK, Tripathi PP, Srivastava AK, Ray U. A virus that has gone viral: amino acid mutation in S protein of Indian isolate of Coronavirus COVID-19 might impact receptor binding, and thus, infectivity. Bioscience Reports. 2020 May;40(5). DOI: 10.1042/bsr20201312.
  9. Gandhi S, Srivastava AK, Ray U, Tripathi PP. Is the Collapse of the Respiratory Center in the Brain Responsible for Respiratory Breakdown in COVID-19 Patients? ACS Chemical Neuroscience. 2020 May;11(10):1379-1381. DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.0c00217.
  10. Chandra S, Alam MT, Dey J, et al. Healthy Gut, Healthy Brain: The Gut Microbiome in Neurodegenerative Disorders. Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry. 2020 ;20(13):1142-1153. DOI: 10.2174/1568026620666200413091101.
  11. Begum F, Das S, Mukherjee D, Mal S, Ray U. Insight into the Tropism of Dengue Virus in Humans. Viruses. 2019 Dec;11(12). DOI: 10.3390/v11121136.
  12. Begum F, Das S, Mukherjee D, Ray U. Hijacking the Host Immune Cells by Dengue Virus: Molecular Interplay of Receptors and Dengue Virus Envelope. Microorganisms. 2019 Sep;7(9). DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms7090323.
  13. Mukherjee D, Das S, Begum F, Mal S, Ray U. The Mosquito Immune System and the Life of Dengue Virus: What We Know and Do Not Know. Pathogens. 2019 Jun;8(2). DOI: 10.3390/pathogens8020077.
  14. Geoghegan EM, Pastrana DV, Schowalter RM, et al. Infectious Entry and Neutralization of Pathogenic JC Polyomaviruses. Cell Reports. 2017 Oct;21(5):1169-1179. DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.10.027.
  15. Ray U. Virus Like Nanoparticles: Display Matters. Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy. 2017 Mar;83(1):81-84. DOI: 10.16943/ptinsa/2016/48580
  16. Ray U, Cinque P, Gerevini S, et al. JC polyomavirus mutants escape antibody-mediated neutralization. Science Translational Medicine. 2015 Sep;7(306):306ra151. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aab1720.
  17. Kumar A, Manna AK, Ray U, et al. Specific sequence of a Beta turn in human la protein may contribute to species specificity of hepatitis C virus. J Virol. 2014;88(8):4319-4327. doi:10.1128/JVI.00049-14
  18. Ray U, Roy CL, Kumar A, et al. Inhibition of the interaction between NS3 protease and HCV IRES with a small peptide: a novel therapeutic strategy. Mol Ther. 2013;21(1):57-67. doi:10.1038/mt.2012.151
  19. Pastrana DV, Ray U, Magaldi TG, Schowalter RM, Çuburu N, Buck CB. BK polyomavirus genotypes represent distinct serotypes with distinct entry tropism [published correction appears in J Virol. 2016 Jan 1;90(1):624]. J Virol. 2013;87(18):10105-10113. doi:10.1128/JVI.01189-13
  20. Kumar A, Ray U, Das S. Human La protein interaction with GCAC near the initiator AUG enhances hepatitis C Virus RNA replication by promoting linkage between 5' and 3' untranslated regions. J Virol. 2013;87(12):6713-6726. doi:10.1128/JVI.00525-13
  21. Manna AK, Kumar A, Ray U, Das S, Basu G, Roy S. A cyclic peptide mimic of an RNA recognition motif of human La protein is a potent inhibitor of hepatitis C virus. Antiviral Res. 2013;97(3):223-226. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2012.12.026
  22. Ray U, Ray PS, Das S. Ribosome-RNA interaction: A potential target for developing antiviral against hepatitis C virus. Cuurent Science. 2012;102(3):405-412. 
  23. Ray U, Das S. Interplay between NS3 protease and human La protein regulates translation-replication switch of Hepatitis C virus. Sci Rep. 2011;1:1. doi:10.1038/srep00001
  24. Ravikumar YS, Ray U, Nandhitha M, et al. Inhibition of hepatitis C virus replication by herbal extract: Phyllanthus amarus as potent natural source. Virus Res. 2011;158(1-2):89-97. doi:10.1016/j.virusres.2011.03.014
  25. *Mondal T, *Ray U, Manna AK, Gupta R, Roy S, Das S. Structural determinant of human La protein critical for internal initiation of translation of hepatitis C virus RNA. J Virol. 2008;82(23):11927-11938. doi:10.1128/JVI.00924-08



  1. A recombinant construct for screening drugs against SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (Publication number: WO/2023/073733) (Publication date: 04.05.2023) (International application number: PCT/IN2022/050949) (International Filing Date: 27.10.2022) (Indian patent application number: 202111049482; Indian filing date: 28.10.2021) (From CSIR-IICB)
  2. Immunogenic JC polyomavirus compositions and methods of use. 2018. (Granted) 9931393(US patent)
  3. A company, Biological E Ld. was considered for granting license for  practicing the inventions embodied in the mentioned patent (reference: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/07/2019-01430/prospective-grant-of-an-exclusive-patent-license-virus-like-particles-vaccines-against-human). Herein VLP based vaccine will be used to prevent or treat polyomavirus based infections in kidney/ organ transplantations, bone marrow transplantation and Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.
  4. Compositions, method and formulations for peptide based inhibitors of Hepatitis C virus replication. 2011. 4033/CHE/2011 A
  5. Small antiviral peptides against Hepatitis C virus. 2009. 20090233868


Research Highlights/ Coverages:

  1. India’s PhD students want fellowship tenures extended. Nature India (December, 2021)
  2. COVID-19 Crisis-Nature India examines the pandemic: Nature India (Special issue, June 2020)
  3. Massive coronavirus sequencing efforts urgently need patient data: Nature India (April, 2020)
  4. Therapeutic opportunity knocks (2015): Science (Vol. 349; Issue: 6255; page-1501)
  5. Studies propose vaccination for troublemaking virus (2015): Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Forum
  6. Closing “blind spots” in patients’ immune response to lethal brain infection (2015): EurekaAlert 
  7. Researchers work towards vaccination for PML (2015): MS UN Master Cylinder (Breaking News) 
  8. Possible JC virus vaccination offers important implications for MS treatment (2015): Multiple Sclerosis News Today 
  9. Hep C viral switch (2011):  Nature India                


Invited Article:

Upasana Ray, Feroza Begum. Vaccine protocol from lab to clinic. Science India. (2020) 


Invited Print media comments related to virology:

Around 42 (Four of them were also included in CSIR media news bulletin coverages)


Scientific social responsibilities (Science outreach):

  1. Dr. Ray has served for 5 years as an elected member of Indian National Young Academy of Science (INYAS) (2017-2022) and currently serving as an elected member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) (2022-2027)

As a member of INYAS, Dr. Ray participated and organized many science outreach events. Some of them are as follows (most of these are available on YouTube channel of INYAS):

  • Science Leadership Workshop (supported by three academies) (22-28th June 2020): Role (moderator for Padma Bhushan Kiran Mazumdar Shaw)
  • INSA-INYAS Vigyan Setu Webinars (One of the organizers as an INYAS member) (2020-2021)
  • Survey on “Assessment of COVID-19 impact on PhD students” (2020) (Organized as a member of INYAS)
  • Judged posters (Category: Life Science) as a representative from India and INYAS in IPPC-2020 {A joint effort of INYAS with National Young Academy of Bangladesh (NYAB), Thai Young Scientists’ Academy (TYSA) and Sri Lankan Academy of Young Scientists (SLAYS)} 
  • Miles to go. What do we do next? A webinar series organized by INYAS Kolkata Bhubaneshwar local chapter to spread awareness among school and college students about career options in sciences available in India (Ongoing) (Coordinator).
  • Technical symposium on infectious diseases during 6th annual GBM of INYAS (20..2.2021) (Responsibility: Session Chair)
  • Intellectual  property and patent: Learn from experts. Symposium organized on behalf of Kolkata-Bhubaneshwar local chapter of INYAS (April 10th, 2021)
  • GYANTEEKA: A talk series as a part of COVID-19 vaccine campaign stated by INYAS (Role: Coordinator) (2021-alomost year-long series) 
  • COVID-19 vaccine awareness campaign of INYAS: Acted as one of the editors for releasing myth bursting documents in 11 languages including Hindi, English and other local languages. Also contributed in creating the major content for developing an App called COVAC NEWS for vaccine awareness.
  • Bio:Scope (Science Communication through popular essay) (November, 2021)


International outreach activities as a member of GYA:

  • As a team lead of “women in science” working group of the "Global Young Academy (GYA)", I could establish a collaborative project with Springer nature and co-produced a video campaign highlighting how we use digital technology and innovation in various fields. This campaign focussed on the 2023 theme of “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kr39FeyM2o&t=84s)  (March 2023)
  • Participated in World Intellectual Property 2023 Video Competition by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (March 2023)
  • Participated in the brainstorming session of  "Assessing and addressing sexual harassment in academia" with the Inter Academy Partnership (IAP) and  U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine  (NASEM)
  1. Dr. Ray has been invited by Reddot foundation as a mentor for "Gender Sensitive and Inclusive STEM Leadership program for young women from Delhi NCR".
  2. I-STEM ambassador {Indian Science, Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM) is a national portal, which hosts various scientific programs, initiated by office of the Principal Scientific Adviser, Govt. of India.


Invited Talks (Recent 2020-2022):

  • Role of modern biotechnology in the development of new generation vaccines for disease control. Invited talk at DBT sponsored popular lectures series by ICAR-National Research Center on Pig, Guwahati. (22.12.2022)
  • Viral structural proteins, self-assembly and VLP vaccines. Webinar on viral diseases organized by Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala (29.10.2021)
  • Cosmic Rays. Delivered talk at Science from India’s Past and Present (SIPP) series to highlight work of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. (7.8.2021)
  • What are vaccines? Invited talk as a part of popular talk series of DST Rajasthan and INYAS (1.7.2021)
  • COVID-19 Vaccination. Organized by CSIR-CSIO Chandigarh as a part of Jigyasa (5.5.2021)
  • Vaccine platforms based on repetitive multivalent display of antigens. At Immunology symposium organized by IIT, Roorkee (29. 4.2021)
  • Virus like particle based vaccine against JC polyomavirus and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Invited by AIIMS, New Delhi (17.4. 2021)
  • Vaccine strategies for COVID-19: Indian perspective. Invited by MEDEX Malaysia medical expo MYMEDEX 2021 (8.4.2021)
  • Me the Woman: My Journey. Invited speaker at National Webinar on Women’s Day, Maitreyi College, University of Delhi (8.3.2021)
  • SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, the diplomacy and the science. In Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan webinar series by NASI, Delhi Chapter (Deen Dayal Upadhyay College, DU) (16.2.2021)
  • This pandemic taught us a lot about vaccines: The COVID-19 vaccine journey. The Vaccine Diplomacy; at Technical symposium on infectious diseases during 6th annual GBM of INYAS (20..2.2021)
  • The Effort to Develop and Manufacture Vaccine against COVID-19 in India; at Commonwealth Science Conference 2021 (Theme: Science for a Resilient Future) (23.2.2021)
  • What are vaccines? A COVID-19 perspective; Distinguished speaker on the occasion of ‘National Science Day, 2021’organized by Patna University. (25.2.2021)
  • Women in Science: Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic; as a part of the theme ‘Work in the time of COVID-19: Impact on women in academia’ organized by Women’s cell, Indian institute of technology, Hyderabad (IITH)
  • SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine: Where did we start and where are we heading? In a seminar series entitled "Covid 19 and its different dimensions" organised jointly by INYAS and MNNIT Allahabad
  • Strategies Behind COVID-19 vaccine candidates, Department of Zoology, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, University of Delhi (2020)
  • Vaccine Strategies: A COVID-19 Perspective; in an international webinar series on “Recent Advances in Drug Discovery and Pharmaceutical Sciences” organized by Indian Academy Degree College Autonomous, BMS College of Engineering, in collaboration with Indian Women Scientist's Association (IWSA) (2020)
  • COVID-19 vaccines: Where are we?; in a one day international webinar on COVID-19 pandemic: a search for relief organized by Department of Chemistry in association with IQAC Charuchandra Collage, Kolkata (2020)
  • COVID-19: serendipity and opportunity (as a part of the Science and Serendipity technical session at annual GBM of INYAS-INSA) (2020)
  • COVID-19 vaccine landscape for DST, Haryana (2020)