Sushil Kumar earned his BSc (Hons) from Delhi University (1960) and MSc (1962) and PhD (1965) degrees in Genetics from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the latter under the supervision of Professors S Ramanujam and AT Natarajan respectively. He did post-doctoral work in India with MS Swaminathan (1965-66), with Paul Margolin (1966-68) at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, with Waclaw Szybalski (1968-70) at the University of Wisconsin and with CR Fuerst at the University of Toronto (1970-71). He was Geneticist at IARI (1971) and became the Professor of Molecular Biology and Agricultural Biotechnology (1985). In 1989, he moved to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) where he served as the Head of the Human Resource Development Group (HRDG) and took over as the Director of Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow (1993). In between, he was also the Director of HRDG and National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow for a year each. After retirement from CSIR service (2000), he has been associated with the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR) as an Emeritus Scientist (2001-05) and as an INSA Senior Scientist (2006-2010). Subsequently he has been INSA Honorary Scientist. associated with NIPGR from 2011 and with SKA Institution for Research, Education and Development from 2012 onwards.
Academic and Research Achievements: Sushil Kumar initiated molecular genetics course for postgraduate students at IARI. Currently he teaches general genetics to NIPGR students. His important research findings include the discovery of structural arrangement of chromosomes in the interphase nucleus; development of transcription map of bacteriophage lambda and discovery of repressor; transcription termination sites; antitermination and antiparallel transcription; pleiotropic functions of cyclic AMP in Escherichia coli and new genes and their functions in Rhizobium, Pisum sativum, Catharanthus roseus and Triticum aestivum; genetic improvement for high yields of artemisinin in Artemisia annua and essential oil in Mentha arvensis; construction of linkage and QTL maps in Catharanthus roseus; leaf blade and stipule blade morphogenetic pathways in Pisum sativum; discovery of COCHLEATA gene as a repressor of the master regulator LEAFY gene; construction of autumn wheat and discovery of tandem cropping in wheat. He has published more than 300 research and review papers, authored/edited 25 books, published 98 popular articles and taken 80 international and 52 Indian patents. Dr Kumar has guided 32 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Sushil Kumar started the molecular genetics laboratory at IARI in 1971 around which Biotechnology Centre was established in 1985. He established the Genetic Resources and Biotechnology Laboratory and Uttaranchal Field Station of CIMAP. He served as the President of Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding and started the journal called Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Sciences. He has served on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Genetics, Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Indian Journal of Experimental Biology and Proceedings of Indian National Science Academy.
Awards and Honours: Sushil Kumar was awarded Genetics Medal of the Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding (1965), SS Bhatnagar Prize (1981), Distinguished Scientist Award of National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1986), FICCI Award (2000), Bhasin Award (2000), Shyam Bahadur Saksena Memorial Medal (2002) of INSA and BP Pal Memorial Lecture Award (2003). He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore.