TM Jacob did his BSc and BSc (Hons) in Chemistry from Loyola College, Chennai. He worked as a Lecturer of Chemistry for a year at St Joseph’s College, Bangalore. In 1952, Jacob joined the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore in the Department of Organic Chemistry as a Research Scholar. He obtained his PhD degree from the University of Madras under the guidance of Dr Sukh Dev. Jacob had two years of post-doctoral experience at IISc as National Research Fellow. He worked as Research Associate in the University of Toronto, Canada and Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey, USA. In 1961, Jacob joined the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA as a Research Associate of Dr Har Govind Khorana. He was appointed as an Assistant Professor (1964) at the Enzyme Research Institute. Jacob was offered a position at IISc, Bangalore in the Department of Biochemistry (1966) and retired as Professor of Biochemistry (1987). He was an INSA Senior Scientist (1987-90).
Academic and Research Achievements: Jacob was introduced to the areas of nucleic acid chemistry and molecular biology by Dr HG Khorana. This was the time when Khorana had embarked on an ambitious programme of chemical synthesis of nucleic acid fragments with the idea of using them for studies in DNA replication, transcription and translation, and to study the nature of the genetic code, which resulted in the award of the Nobel Prize to Khorana. Jacob contributed substantially to these studies. He was one among the first to start research in Molecular Biology at IISc focusing on the area of immunochemistry of nucleic acids. He raised antibodies in rabbits against nucleoside, nucleotide and oligonucleotide haptens after chemically coupling them to proteins. A sensitive membrane binding radioimmunoassay was developed to study quantitatively the specificities of the antibodies to the haptens, related compounds, single stranded- and double stranded-DNA. Thus, it was shown that antibodies against isopentenyl adenosine were effective tools for the isolation of tRNAs containing isopentenyl adenosine. His studies with antibodies to deoxyribonucleotides showed that they form two classes of DNA-binding antibodies, one class binding preferentially to single stranded DNA and the other binding preferentially to double stranded DNA, but both are specific to homologous haptens. His gel electrophoresis studies with DNAs of known sequences and analysis of the data showed that they bind to specific haptens containing sequences on dsDNA. These antibodies bind to native human chromosomes also. Jacob has about 90 research publications. He has guided 20 students for their PhD degree.
Awards and Honours: Jacob is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1976).