Govindarajan Padmanaban received his BSc (Chemistry) from the Presidency College, Chennai, MSc (Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry) from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi; and DSc (hc) from BHU. After obtaining PhD (Biochemistry) (1966) from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, he became Assistant Professor (1969), Deputy Director (1993) and also Director (1994-98), IISc. He was a UGC-British Council Exchange Scientist at the St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London (1969-70) and Visiting Scientist, University of Chicago (1973-86). After his retirement (1998) from IISC, he worked there as Emeritus Scientist, Honorary Professor, Distinguished Biotechnologist and holds NASI-Platinum Jubilee Chair.
Academic and Research Achievements: Padmanaban was instrumental in ushering in recombinant DNA technology in the country. Working in the area, eukaryotic gene transcription, he studied the role of heme in the transcriptional regulation of cytochrome p-450 genes in rat liver; established the mulifunctional regulatory functions of heme in the living cell; studied the heme biosynthetic pathway in different eukaryotic systems and discovered the heme-biosynthetic pathway in the malarial parasite and showed it to be a unique drug target. He showed that curcumin from turmeric has antimalarial activity and embarked on clinical trials to prove the efficacy of curcumin-based combination therapies for malaria. He also guided 45 students for PhD.
Other Contributions: Professor Padmanaban worked closely with several government agencies to further the cause of biotechnology in the country. He helped and promoted vaccine industries in the country and supported his colleagues in the development of recombinant hepatitis B vaccine and DNA rabies vaccine. He chaired several committees of the Department of Biotechnology and was part of several initiatives to promote life science research. He was a member of the WHO group on malaria for three years and served on the INSA Council (1991-92).
Awards and Honours: Professor Padmanaban was recipient of Padma Shri (1991) and Padma Bhushan (2004) from the Government of India, SS Bhatnagar Prize for Science & Technology (1983) and Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Fellowship of INSA. He was CV Raman Research Professor of INSA (1991-96). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).