He believes in taking science to common man

D. Sundar Photo: T. Singaravelou

D. Sundar Photo: T. Singaravelou  

Deepa H Ramakrishnan

D. Sundar recently received the Young Scientist Award for 2006

PONDICHERRY: He has a long line of degrees behind his name, which include MSc, MPhil, PhD and HDSE. He has recently received the Young Scientist Award for the year 2006 at the Indian Science Congress from President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in biological sciences. D. Sundar is a lecturer in the Centre for Bioinformatics, School of Life Sciences, at the Pondicherry University.

"I believe in translating my research work to the common man. I could do a research in a company and patent it and get royalty from that, but it is not just what I want. When I chose science I decided that I should do research instead of going into industry because research is something that I wanted to do from the very beginning," says Dr. Sundar, who has a laboratory of his own in the university and has two students working with him.

For the Young Scientist Award Dr. Sundar presented a research paper on "Computational and experimental identification of rubber biosynthetic genes in guayule (Parthenium argentatum)". The paper is about how natural rubber, which is a polymer causes allergic reactions. "We have found out a key protein in rubber and have completely characterised its functions. We are now working towards finding an artificial rubber," explains Dr. Sundar, who was selected for the award from among 300 young scientists from all over the country.

"It is indeed a great honour to receive this award and especially so from our President, who is himself a scientist," he said. The Young Scientist Award is given to scientists below the age of 32 in 14 disciplines and carries certificate of merit and a cash award of Rs. 25,000.

He is a visiting lecturer in the Johns Hopkins University in US and goes there every summer. "I was in the US for about three and a half years and I chose to come back to India because I wanted to do research in our country. I also have been listed in the Human Genome Engineering Consortium that does research in the human genome that has been mapped. H Y Kim from Korea and I from India are the only non- US members in that project. In another area of research, "Molecular Evolution of Zinc Finger Proteins", he, along with a group of other scientists, is trying to design proteins that have a lot of therapeutic applications. "In curing diseases we don't have anything beyond medicines, with the mapping of the human genome we are trying to find exact targets in our DNA that can be engineered to suit our needs. It is called targeting genome engineering. It can be used in medicine and also in agriculture."

Dr. Sundar took up biotechnology and bio informatics since he didn't have an opportunity to take up medicine after school. "There is scope for work in the field of medicine and also serving people in these fields hence I took up this," says this proud former student of Kendriya Vidyalaya JIPMER, which he fondly says, gave him a lot of room for looking beyond academics. He has played cricket at the junior level for the Pondicherry State and also participated in science quiz competitions at the State level.

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