Thirumalachari Ramasami obtained his BTech and MTech degrees from University of Madras, and PhD from University of Leeds, UK for his work on the chemistry of chromium. He worked at the Ames Laboratory and Wayne State University and University of NewCastle upon Tyne, on research areas relating to homogenous catalysis, electron transport phenomena and bioinorganic chemistry, respectively. Thereafter, he joined the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Chennai (1984), worked as its Director (1996-2006), and is presently Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Science and Technology (DST) (2006- ). He held additional charges as the Director General, CSIR and Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Academic and Research Achievements: Ramasami's investigations focused on mechanistic chemistry, industrial applications of chromium salts and "do-ecology solutions" to industrial environmental problems. Some of his major research contributions include demonstration of anomalous reactivity of chromium (III), stabilization of unusual oxidation states of chromium, mechanistic insight into the chromium induced apoptosis of human lymphocytes, understanding host-guest interactions in bio-molecular systems, and development of technologies for improved tanning salts and systems for leather sector. More than 12 technologies developed by his group are in commercial exploitation and several of them have been developed from first principles and without international equivalents. He has guided more than 30 students for their doctoral research and authored more than 220 research publications, eight chapters in books, and numerous general articles. He holds 37 patents of which 12 have been commercialized.
Other Contributions: Dr Ramasami made substantial contributions to the resurgence of CLRI as a global leader in leather research. His contributions to the solution of environmental problems in leather sector in Tamil Nadu resulted in saving 2,50,000 jobs and an annual industrial turnover of Rs 6000 crores. In recognition of his contributions to leather research, he was invited to deliver the Arthur Wilson Memorial Lecture. As the Secretary DST, he has initiated policies, programmes and schemes with potentials for long-term impact. He is currently connecting causes of science with resources and public policy support.
Awards and Honours: Ramasami was conferred numerous awards, notably SS Bhatnagar Prize for Chemical Sciences (1993), Special Award of Honor by Indian Leather Technologists' Association, Chemito Prize, Vasvik Prize for Chemical Sciences (1997) and Environmental Technologies (2004), Om Prakash Bhasin Award (2001), Vocational Services Award and For the Sake of Honor awards by Rotary Club, and Padma Sri (2001). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, Indian National Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World.