Naropantul Appaji Rao obtained his BSc from the Madras University and MSc from the Rajputana University. He then joined the Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and worked to elucidate pathways for the biosynthesis of flavin coenzyme nucleotides in plants for his PhD (from Rajasthan University in 1959). Thereafter, he worked as Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington; and Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, USA; and as Visiting Professor/Scientist at Brigham Young University, USA; New York University Medical Center; University of Nagoya, Japan; Institute of Applied Biochemistry, Japan; University of London; and Edith Cowan University, Australia. Upon his return to India, he joined the Department of Biochemistry in 1964 as a CSIR Pool Officer and subsequently as Lecturer, rose steadily to become Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, Chairman, and Dean of Science Faculty, all at IISc.
Academic and Research Achievements: Rao made outstanding contributions in the areas: allosteric regulation of oligomeric and monomeric enzymes, especially of plant aspartate transcarbamylase, glutamine synthetase and flavokinase; pathways of oxygen activation in aromatic amino acid metabolism; mechanisms of drought tolerance in plants; and in-depth study on serine hydroxymethytransferase, a cancer target, which revealed several new facets of enzyme function and novel reaction mechanisms. Other notable studies made by him relate to the consequences on health and reproductive performance of populations practicing marriages between close kin. He also published more than 200 papers in all the leading journals of biology. During a research career spanning more than 50 years, he mentored more than 50 students for PhD.
Other Contributions: Rao was Secretary-General of the 16th IUBMB Congress (1994), and also on the Council of FAOB and IUBMB (1949-49). He served as INSA Secretary and Council Member (1996-98). He was founder Editor of the journal, Journal of Biosciences (1978-85) and served on Editorial boards of several national and international journals in biochemistry.
Awards and Honours: Professor Rao was recipient of many prestigious awards, notably the JC Bose Medal (1989), INSA Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture Award (2001), M Sreenivasaya Memorial Award (SBC), and Dupont Solae Award (2002). He served the Society of Biological Chemists (India) as Secretary (1965-69), Treasurer (1970-75), Vice President (1979-82) and President (1986-88). He was elected to the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1980), and as Foreign Member of the Poland Academy of Arts and Sciences.