Sudhir Kumar Sopory earned his BSc (Hons) and MSc from Jammu and Kashmir University, and PhD from Delhi University under the supervision of Professor SC Maheshwari. He joined Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi in 1973. He was at Max-Planck- Institute at Cologne (1976-78), where he produced potato monohaploids; University of Texas, USA (1981-82), where he found the role of calcium and calmodulin; Department of Agriculture, Maryland, USA (1986-88), where he found the mechanism of D1 protein turnover; and University of Munich with Professor R Herrmann (1991-92), where he did promoter analysis of light regulated genes encoding proteins involved in photosynthesis.
Academic and Research Achievements: Sopory made notable contributions to the mechanism of light and stress regulation of gene expression. Studying the expression and activity of nitrate reductase, he found that light, via phytochrome perception, affects the turnover of phosphoinositide cycle thereby releasing two second messengers, IP3 and DAG. Thus, the role and involvement of this pathway was demonstrated in light signal transduction in plants. He further characterized calcium dependent kinases which were found to be regulated by light. A protein kinase C like activity was also purified for the first time from plants and this enzyme was found to be regulated also by PMA, an analog of DAG. He also identified topoisomerase I as a substrate of PKC in plants. He worked on gene regulation in response to salinity and dehydration stress and developed a novel method of gene amplification and a PCR-based method for selectively picking up differentially expressed genes and their promoters. Work on the genes picked up in rice and Pennisetum, led to the development of strategies for getting stress tolerant transgenic plants. He also identified glyoxalase system in plants and showed its role under stress environment. The glyoxalase system comprises of two enzymes, glyoxalase I and II which are involved in the detoxification of methylglyoxal whose level increases in response to stress. By manipulating the expression of these genes, transgenic plants could be developed which could be grown under high saline conditions.
Other Contributions: Professor Sopory has been Member of several national committees of DBT, DST, ICAR, CSIR, UGC, academic bodies of over two dozen universities and institutions, Science and Engineering Research Council of DST; and Council Member of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore. He served on the Editorial boards of many national/international journals. He was Vice President, INSA (2004-06), Society of Plant Physiology and Biochemistry and Secretary, Plant Tissue Culture Association of India.
Awards and Honours: Professor Sopory was awarded Hiralal Chakravorty Award by ISCA, SS Bhatangar Award (1987), Birbal Sahni Medal by Indian Botanical Society (2001), NASI Saligram Sinha Medal (2001), Tenth Godnev Award Lecture by Belorus Academy of Sciences (2003), ISCA Birbal Sahni Birth Centenary Award (2006),Padma Shree (2006) and P Maheshwari Memorial Award (2000). He was elected a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi, and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS).