Balakrishnan Siddartha Ramakrishna did his MBBS (1974), MD (Medicine) (1979) and DM (Gastroenterology) (1983), all from Christian Medical College, Vellore, and PhD (Medicine) from Madras University. He worked for two years at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, Australia doing both clinical work and using isolated colonic epithelial cells for metabolic and other functional studies. He also had training for three months at Yale University School of Medicine studying intestinal ion transport at the membrane level. In 1993, he had hands-on training in molecular biology in relation to gastrointestinal infections. He spent his entire academic career at the Christian Medical College, Vellore.
Academic & Research Achievements: Ramakrishna was involved in developing a Gastrointestinal Physiology Laboratory for studying membrane transport in vitro. His research underscored the importance of short chain fatty acids in promoting sodium and water absorption from the colon, the findings that found application in the development of new oral rehydration solutions. Subsequently, his research moved from the laboratory to the treatment of patients with diarrhea. He studied inflammatory bowel disease and the interactions between the intestinal luminal bacteria and the innate immune system of the human host. In particular, his studies span the molecular genetics of inflammatory bowel disease in Indians, having prospectively followed a cohort of patients. He also established methods for the molecular identification and enumeration of the commensal bacterial flora of the gut, and characterized the bacterial flora of the Indian gut in health and several disease conditions. He also made several contributions to the field of probiotics research. During the course of his career, he guided nearly 12 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Ramakrishna has served on several committees (including various funding committees) of DST, ICMR, Wellcome Trust, besides being on the Review Board of the Indian Clinical Epidemiology Network (IndiaCLEN). He has been Associate Editor of the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Editor of the Indian Journal of Gastroenterology. He is the immediate past-President of the Indian Society of Gastroenterology. Presently he is Editor-in-Chief of the Indian Journal of Gastroenterology and a Professorial Fellow at the Flinders University of South Australia..
Awards and Honours: Ramakrishna was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Medical Sciences (India), Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (2006), and the American Gastroenterology Association.