Manju Bansal earned her BSc and MSc degrees from Osmania University, Hyderabad. In 1972 she joined the Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore for her doctoral degree and worked under the guidance of world-renowned biophysicist GN Ramachandran, on the theoretical modeling of the triple helical structure of the fibrous protein collagen and received her PhD in 1977. She continued working at IISc as a post-doctoral fellow with Professor Sasisekharan, on left handed and other unusual structures of DNA till 1981. She then went to Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, for a year and worked on the structure of filamentous phages. She has been awarded an EMBL Visiting Fellowship and AvH Fellowship, Germany and Senior Fulbright Fellowship, USA. She has been a Visiting Professor at Rutgers University, USA, and Visiting Consultant at NIH, Bethesda, USA.
Academic and Research Achievements: Manju Bansal's early work on structure modeling of the fibrous protein collagen, particularly on the role of hydroxyproline and other aminoacids in the triple helical structure of collagen, has recently been experimentally confirmed by others. After joining Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore as a faculty member in 1982, her research has been directed towards better understanding of the sequence dependent stability as well as variability in DNA structure and its role in biological function. Her work has clearly showed that the rules of sequence dependent variability in DNA structure, as observed in oligo-nucleotide crystal structures, can be used to predict intrinsic curvature of longer DNA molecules. This is now well known to play a decisive role in such important functions as transcription initiation and replication. A promoter identification algorithm based on relative stability of neighboring regions in genomic DNA has been developed. She has authored over 80 research articles and published more than 20 other papers/chapters in various symposium proceedings and multi-author volumes. She has mentored a large number of students including about 15 PhD students. She has served on the Editorial Boards of three journals for several years.
Other Contributions: Professor Bansal was involved in setting up the first Interactive Graphics laboratory for Molecular Modeling in India at IISc. She was also the Founder Director of the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology at Bangalore, set up under a unique Public-Private partnership arrangement, which has been recognized as a Centre of Excellence by the Ministry of Information Technology. In recognition of her contribution to improving understanding of biological structures, she has been invited to join the Advisory Board of International Protein Data Bank.
Awards and Honours: Professor Bansal was awarded the INSA Medal for Young Scientists (1979). She is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, since 1998.