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Avesthagen founder Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell wins 'Karmaveer Puraskar'

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The award recognizes her continuous efforts towards addressing the serious issues of affordable healthcare and food security

Dr. Villoo Morawala-Patell, Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of AVESTHAGEN LIMITED was awarded the coveted ‘Karmaveer Puraskar’ award as a ‘Corporate Citizen’ on the 26th of November in New Delhi at the exclusive awards function which is a part of “iCONGO’s RIGHT every WRONG conclave”. This conclave is a national forum for social justice and citizen action where various social justice issues are discussed by very eminent and concerned citizens. This year the theme is “Say No to Corruption”.

The ‘Karmaveer Puraskar’ is a national award for Social Justice & Citizen Action. The award is instituted by iCONGO – Indian Confederation of NGOs – the people sector association- in partnership with government, business, media, civil society and other sectors and leading global and national organisations which over the years include institutions like TISS, BCCI, NASSCOM FOUNDATION, PHDCCI, CMS, RAI, UNMC, UNODC, The art of living, UNDP, World Bank, UNFPA, GTZ, WOTR, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, NDTV, Business World, Outlook and various others.

Accepting the award, Dr. Patell said, “Being recognised for integrating science, business and social responsibility at Avesthagen brings a great sense of achievement. Today, Avesthagen stands for innovation in the country and we hope to serve the agriculture and healthcare needs of the farmers and the common man through technological breakthroughs.” She further added “Following these breakthroughs, farmers will be able to get a reasonable crop under stress conditions and consumers will be able to get affordable biopharmaceuticals and preventive healthcare through functional foods.”

Avesthagen is a multidisciplinary company that has built integrated capabilities across most areas of biological sciences. One of the most important fields of research and development which the company is working on is agri-biotechnology. With increasing danger of food scarcity, Avesthagen’s work towards being able to provide hybrids and Environment Adjusted Crops for field crops such as rice, wheat and maize and other cereals to the farmers of our country is a milestone for the industry.

The group focuses since 2004 on pathway engineering and development of novel expression systems, development of product specific bioassays and design of novel animal component free production media, generation of over-expressing stable cell lines, development of proprietary expression platforms and novel, scalable processes in microbial and mammalian systems. Scale-up, manufacture and supply of clinical grade material is done through Joint ventures. A substantial pipeline of biosimilar molecules is being developed for a wide range of areas including auto-immune diseases, cancers, sepsis, anemia, cardiovascular disorders and bone health. Four molecules have already obtained RCGM approval for pre-clinical trials and one molecule is going through human trials. The first product is expected to reach market by 2011. Other molecules will follow thereafter. A 200L cGMP facility (US FDA approved) is under construction.

The division focuses on developing scientifically validated bioactives from Indian medicinal plants for prevention or treatment of degenerative conditions such as diabetes, obesity, CVD and bone health. We also work on performance enhancement, stress management, skincare, weight management, immunomodulation, pain management, osteoarthritis and digestion through use of proprietary tools. Avesthagen products target both food and pharma markets and, coupled with global marketing strategies and the acquisition of two product driven businesses, the BioNutrition group is poised for sustainable fast growth. It hosts two wholly owned subsidiaries and large collaborative programs.

On the Dietary Supplement front, Avesthagen markets scientifically validated natural ingredients. These set the highest standards for purity and concentration of active constituents. Many of our leading products have strong intellectual proprietary positions. These include trademarks and patents that employ process, composition and method of use claims. Products are manufactured in India and sold in the US and Japan in the form of pills and powders and worldwide though bulk volumes. The food wing develops nutritious alternatives for breakfast, daily snacks, and functional foods for all who strive towards promoting well-being through a healthy diet. The products target the discriminating health conscious consumer, who cares about using natural food ingredients for their nutrition requirements and those who believe that their health can be managed better through foods.

Avesthagen has to its credit another unique project, The Avestagenome Project™, a comprehensive genetic study of more than 60,000 Parsi (Zoroastrian) individuals. The project will explore the genetic basis of longevity and create a genetic, genealogic and medical database of the Parsi population in India that will help develop unique biomarkers for universal use in Predictive healthcare.

Dr. Patell also has the following awards to her credit:

  • Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year conferred upon by the World Zarathusthi Chamber of Commerce (WZCC) at Houston, Texas, USA in 2009
  • 'Officer of the National Order of Merit' by the President of the French Republic in April 2008
  • The Parsi Entrepreneur Par Excellence Award from the Bombay Parsi Panchayat in 2008
  • The Outstanding Women Entrepreneur for the year 2005-06 from FICCI
  • The BioSpectrum Entrepreneur Award of the Year 2006
  • The Whirlpool GR8! Women Award 2005 for Science & Technology
  • The Ojaswini Udyamita Alankaram 2004


KARMAVEER PURASKAAR was created in 2006 by the people sector through iCONGO to recognize only individual citizens from all sectors (media, corporate, government, civil society, performing arts, professionals who have been pivotal for “being and leading the change” beyond their personal daily lives and business as usual by being committed on individual levels to work for social justice issues with proactive citizen action. The awards are given to individuals from various sectors for their contribution to promote social justice through citizen action. The basic philosophy of the awards is based on Gandhiji’s “Be the change you want to see in the world” and given to citizens who go beyond being apathetic and believe in doing their bit for social justice and know that it is “better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. Past awardees include living legends and some eminent citizens like Verghese Kurien, Anu Aga, James Michael Lyngdoh, Vikram Akula, M. S. Swaminathan, Alyque Padamsee. More details are on

About Avesthagen Limited

AVESTHAGEN LIMITED ( is India’s leading integrated systems biology platform company that focuses on achieving convergence of food, pharma and population genetics leading to predictive preventive and personalized healthcare. It employs 400 people worldwide and is headquartered in Bangalore. Avesthagen Limited has established world class, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities in Bangalore. It began business operations in 2001. Since its inception Avesthagen has grown into one of India's, leading healthcare biotech companies in addition to its agri-biotechnologies product pipeline, development of clinically validated botanical bioActives, derived from Indian medicinal plants, as well as the development of a pipeline of bio-similar drugs.

Avesthagen Limited has four strategic business units: bioPharmaceuticals, bioNutrition, bioAgriculture and Science & Innovation. Its partners include multiple top 10 global companies in each of its fields of research. Avesthagen Limited collaborates at every stage in the value chain with appropriate partners, both public and private, for access to and exchange of technology and overall commercial expertise to leverage the ‘India advantage’.

Recently, AVESTHAGEN Limited announced that it plans to raise approximately Rs 600-700 crores from the domestic and international markets through an initial public offering. The funding will be used to commercialize 40 products that are in various stages of development. AVESTHAGEN is expected to touch a turnover of Rs 100 crores this fiscal. The Company, which currently holds 560 patents will be valued based on its patent and product portfolios.



First Published: Mon, November 30 2009. 13:19 IST