Raghavan Varadarajan graduated from IIT Kanpur and obtained MSc (Chemistry) (1982). He did his PhD from Stanford University under the supervision of Professor Steven G Boxer. During his PhD, he was able to clone and express the important heme protein, human myoglobin, measure dielectric properties of proteins and understand the mechanisms by which the protein environment modulates the redox potential/spectral properties of bound chromophores. Subsequently in 1988, he moved to Yale University to carry out postdoctoral research with Professor FM Richards. The goal of this work was to probe the structural and thermodynamic changes associated with cavity formation in proteins. In 1992, he returned to India to accept a position at the Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, where he is currently working as Professor.
Academic and Research Achievements: Varadarajan developed novel crystallographic and NMR hydrogen exchange techniques for characterizing disordered states of proteins. He developed new procedures for depth and cavity volume calculations in proteins and mutagenesis-based procedures for elucidating residue burial in proteins and carried out genomic analysis of the determinants of protein thermal stability. He estimated the strength of the hydrophobic driving force in protein folding. He did sequence-based prediction and experimental design of temperature sensitive mutants of globular proteins in diverse organisms. He demonstrated a novel role for the signal sequence in protein destabilization and translocation and explored the mechanism of action of E. coli chaperone SecB and its role in protein disaggregation. He also characterized the size and cosolute dependence of protein stability and effects of osmolytes and denaturants on protein structure. He designed novel gp120 based immunogens for HIV-1 vaccine applications as well as fragments of human CD4 for HIV-1 entry inhibition and basic immunology studies. Nearly 10 students have obtained PhD under his supervision.
Awards and Honours: Professor Varadarajan received the BM Birla Award for Biological Sciences (1998), Swarnajayanthi Fellowship for Biological Sciences (1999), AIDS-Innovation Grant Award by National Institutes of Health, USA (1999), Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellowship (2000), SS Bhatnagar Award for Biologicial Sciences (2002), Darshan Ranganthan Memorial Lecture Award by the Chemical Research Society of India (2005) and JC Bose Fellowship by DST (2007-12). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (2001).