Darshan Ranganathan obtained her BSc (1961), MSc (1963) and PhD (1966), all from Delhi University. She served as Research Scientist at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, Regional Research Laboratory (now National Institute of Interdisciplinary Science & Technology), Thiruvananthapuram and at Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.
Academic and Research Achievements: The major research contributions of Darshan Ranganathan encompass understanding of biological processes at a molecular level, through the design of simple and elegant chemical models. Her noteworthy early accomplishments, as attested by seminal publications, included the design of chemical nucleases that showed specificity with respect to the site of DNA scission, the chemical simulation of the ?-amidating action of pituitary enzymes (a key post-translational event in the generation of pituitary hormones), the urea cycle, wherein ornithine, as in nature, was projected as the carrier molecule, the ATP-Imidazole pathway linked to the biosynthesis of ATP, GTP and Histidine, and the selective ?-peptidation – as in nature – in organized media of reverse micelles. Her research assumed new dimensions, in terms of novelty and elegance in the crafting of new molecules with potential applications in chemical, biological and material sciences. Her latest findings showed that a small peptide molecule could be designed to self-assemble into a high molecular weight macromolecule by incorporating into its backbone, a self-complementary bi-directional hydrogen bonding motif, a supramolecular synthon. She constructed, using four types of biscarboxamide units as supramolecular synthons, a large variety of peptide assemblies with highly organized hydrogen bonded patterns, characteristic of the core synthon.
Other Contributions: Darshan Ranganathan (jointly with her husband, Professor S Ranganathan, FNA) produced Current Organic Chemistry Highlights, every month, for the period 1971-79. She also contributed eight books in her subject.
Awards and Honours: Dr Darshan Ranganathan was recipient of Science Research Scholarship of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition; and Professor K Venkataraman Lectureship (1996). She was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore.
The Indian National Science Academy has instituted ‘Professor Darshan Ranganathan Memorial Lecture’ in her honour.