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Partha Basu, Ph.D.

Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Chemistry & Biochemistry

Mellon Hall
Phone: 412.396.6345



B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Calcutta University, Calcutta, India
Ph.D. Jadavpur University, Calcutta, India
Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Arizona
Bio and Expertise

Partha Basu is a professor in the Chemistry and Biochemistry at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.

Professor Basu earned his B.Sc. (Honors) and M.Sc. (Inorganic Chemistry) from Calcutta University, India. He earned a PhD in Coordination Chemistry from Jadavpur University, India. After PhD he moved US and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Arizona with Professor John H. Enemark, and then joined Duquesne as a faculty member.

Professor Basu’s research interests are in the broad area of bioinorganic chemistry that combines design and synthesis of new molecules, detailed spectroscopic and kinetic analyses of the compounds, protein expression and purification, as well as mass spectrometry. Since joining Duquesne Professor Basu has developed new synthetic strategies for dendrimers to metal sulfur compounds to new sensors. He has nearly 90 peer reviewed publications, and two patents.

Professor Basu has mentored 7 postdoctoral fellows, 9 PhD students, 3 MS students, 28 undergraduate students and 4 high school students. He has directed 5 PhD doctoral dissertations, and 3 Honors undergraduate theses. These students have gone on to successful career paths from assuming positions in academia, industry or government laboratories. Some of the undergraduate students have gone on to graduate and medical schools.

Professor Basu has organized two symposia at the National ACS meetings; he is the founding Director of the Center for Metals in Biological Systems at Duquesne University, and organizes a yearly mini-symposium at Duquesne. Professor Basu serves on many committees of local organizations dedicated to science education such as Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh.

2011-present Inducted into Duquesne University’s Office of Research Hall of Fame
2011-present Associate Editor: Frontiers in Microbial Chemistry
2010-present Editorial Advisory Board: Metallomics
2006 Presidential Excellence Award in Scholarship - Duquesne University.
2006 Excellence in Scholarship, Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Science, Duquesne University.
2005 National Research Service Award (NIEHS).
2005 Ad-hoc Member, NIH study section (MSFA).
1999 Faculty Development Award, Duquesne University.
1998 Research Innovation Award, Research Corporation.
1992 Affiliate member, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
1992 Young Scientist, Indian National Science Academy.
1991-1992 Associateship, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, India.
1986-1991 Research Fellowship, University Grants Commission and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, India.

Editorial Assignments

  • Guest Editor: Metallomics (2012-2013), a Royal Chemical Society Journal - Special Issue on Microbial Metallomics
  • Guest Editor: Molecular Nutrition and Food Research (2009), a Wiley-Blackwell Journal - Special Issue on Arsenic
  • Co-Editor: The Integrated Approach to Chemistry Laboratory: Selected Experiments (2009), a DEStech Publication.

Understanding the roles of metal ions in the biological processes is the focus of our research with an emphasis on the reactions catalyzed by molybdenum enzymes, particularly the transformations of nitrate and different arsenicals. Molybdenum enzymes can seriously impact human health by catalyzing redox reactions that trigger disease states. The central component of these enzymes is the molybdenum cofactor where the molybdenum is coordinated by a specially designed pterin molecule. Defects in the synthesis of molybdenum cofactor can result in severe physiological abnormalities and including childhood death. Our studies are directed towards developing a fundamental understanding of the transformation of nitrate and arsenicals as they are implicated with cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Our studies have important consequences in developing new technologies for detection and removal of toxic metal ions, as well development of new synthetic strategies for pterin-containing drug molecules. Our multidisciplinary approach combines different aspects of chemistry (e.g., synthesis, spectroscopy and mass spectrometry) and biology (e.g., protein purification, expression). The current projects are:

  • Structure-function relation of molybdenum cofactor

  • Chemistry of chicken feed additive

  • Metabolism of nitrate and arsenic

  • Development of metal sensor


Professor Basu has taught several and diverse courses both at graduate and undergraduate levels such as Inorganic Chemistry, Applied Basic NMR Techniques, Paramagnetic NMR spectroscopy, Quantum Structure and Dynamics, Reaction-Structure-Mechanism, Symmetry and Group theory, Scientific Presentation, Senior Seminar, Integrated Laboratory, General Chemistry, Energy and the Environment, and Fundamental in Chemistry.

Professor Basu has edited a book on Integrated Laboratory, published four papers/book chapters on teaching materials, organized a symposium on teaching, and gave two presentations on teaching at the national ACS meeting and Pittsburgh Conference.

Publications and News


(Total: 93, #denotes undergraduate student participant; 2012-2013 publications)

  1. C. Sparacino-Watkins, J.F. Stolz and P. Basu, "Nitrate and Periplasmic Nitrate reductases", Chem. Soc. Rev., in press (2013).

  2. P. Basu, "Microbial Metallomics," Metallomics, 5, 274-275 (2013).

  3. P. Basu, B. W. Kail, A. K. Adams#, V. N. Nemykin, "Quantitation of Ligand Effect in oxo-transfer reactions from dioxo-Mo(VI) trispyrazolyl borate complexes," Dalton Transaction, 3071-3081 (2013).

  4. K. Deibler# and P. Basu, "Continuing issues with Lead: Recent Advances in Detection," Eur. J. Inorg. Chem., 1086-1096 (2013).

  5. I. V. Pimkov, A. Nigam, K. Venna, F. F. Fleming, P. V. Solntsev, V. N. Nemykin, and P. Basu, "Dithiolopyranthione Synthesis, Spectroscopy and an Unusual Reactivity with DDQ," J. Heterocycl. Chem., 50(4), 879-886, (2013)

  6. C. Sparacino-Watkins, J. Tejeroa, J. Wang, V. P. Ragireddy, M. Gauthier, J. Thomas, M. Buenoa, I. Azarova, Y-C. Laia, B. Sun, S. Frizzella, P. Basu, A. Mora, M. T. Gladwin, "P74: Novel human mitochondrial enzyme can transform nitrite into nitric oxide," Nitric Oxide, 31, S45-46 (2013).

  7. J. Wang, S. Krizowski, K. Fischer, D. Niks, J. Tejero, L. Wang, C. Sparacino-Watkins, P. Ragireddy, S. Frizzell, E. E. Kelley, S. Shiva, Y. Zhang, P. Basu, R. Hille, G. Schwarz, M. T. Gladwin, "Sulfite oxidase catalyzes single electron transfer at molybdenum domain to reduce nitrite to NO," Nitric Oxide, 31, S39-40 (2013).

  8. P. Basu (2013) "Tungsten in Biological Systems", In: Kretsinger RH, Uversky VN, Permyakov EA (eds). Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins. Springer, New York, 2274-2283.

  9. P.C. Chovanec, C.E. Sparacino-Watkins, N. Zhang, P. Basu and J. Stolz, "Microbial Reduction of Chromate in the presence of Nitrate by Three Nitrate Respiring Organisms," Front. Microbio. 3:416. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00416. (2012).


  1. Basu, P.; Serli-Mitasev, B. Composition, synthesis, and use of a new class of fluorophores. U.S. Pat. 7,888,506 B2, Feb 15, 2011.
  2. Basu, P.; Serli-Mitasev, B.; Marbella, L. Lead Sensor and Methods of Use, US Patent 61/189,317 filed August 18, 2008. U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ.(2010),US 20100041158 A1 20100218.
  3. Basu, P.; Pimkov, I.  Composition, Synthesis, and Use of New Substituted Pyran and Pterin Compounds. U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. (2012), US 20120245168 A1 20120927.

Basu Group in the News

Professor Basu and his group have been in the news for his research and expertise: