Mohindra Singh Chadha joined the BSc (Hons) at Punjab University, Lahore in 1945, and completed the degree in Delhi. For his MSc degree in Organic Chemistry (by research), he worked in a make-shift arrangement at Delhi University under the inspiring guidance of Salimuddin Siddiqui. After working at Malaria Institute of India, Delhi for a brief period, he joined Cornell University to do his PhD. He obtained the degree in 1955, working on 'Biogenesis of Isoprenoid Compounds'. This was followed by post-doctoral associateship (1955-57) with Henry Rapoport at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked on the synthesis of morphine analogs and metabolism of C-14 labeled morphine. Chadha was INSA Senior Scientist during 1991-94.
Academic and Research Achievements: In 1958, Chadha joined the Biology Division of Atomic Energy Establishment (now Bhabha Atomic Research Centre). He established an organic chemistry section there, which grew to a full-fledged Bio-organic Division in 1971. He also established an inter-disciplinary laboratory in Trombay to carry out work on several aspects of contemporary Bioorganic chemistry. Research in areas like insect-plant interactions, biotransformations and biosynthesis of natural products was conducted there. The biosynthetic potential of natural products using plant tissue and cell cultures was a pioneering one in its approach. He also carried out work on the synthesis of several achiral and chiral pheromones and other bioactive organic compounds. Chadha has published nearly 125 research articles and co-authored, with Dr Bal Phondke, the popular science book Life in the Universe.
Other Contributions: Chadha initiated work in India in the area of 'chemical evolution' and 'origin of life' after his association with Cyril Ponnmaperuma at Ames Research Centre. He was also associated with the International Society for Studies on Origin of Life (ISSOL) and continues to be an active ISSOL member. As INSA Senior Scientist at BARC, Chadha directed his energies to a DST supported interdisciplinary inter-institutional national programme on "Chemical Evolution and Origin of Life and Coordinated Studies of Precambrian Deposits" (1986-91). He had also been actively associated with the conferences on 'Chemical Evolution and Origin of Life' held periodically at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy. Chadha also continues his interests in popularization of science, largely in the areas of chemical evolution and origin of life as well as environmental problems and their amelioration for the future. He has edited/co-edited seven conference proceedings.
Awards and Honours: Chadha was elected a Fellow of National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1986) and is also a Fellow of the Maharashtra Academy of Sciences. He was awarded Senior Research Associateship of National Research Council, USA (1969-70). He has been a Council Member of ISSOL twice, and is a member of the ISSOL International Scientific Committee.