Pillarisetti V Subba Rao earned his BSc (Hons) and MSc degrees from Andhra University, and did his PhD (1966) from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore while working in the area of plant biochemistry. Thereafter, he was Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He worked at IISc (1969-96) as Lecturer, Professor and Chairman in the Biochemistry Department. Subsequently, he joined the United Breweries Group as President R&D, Scientific Director and CEO of Vittal Mallya Scientific Research Foundation. After retiring from the UB Group in 2006, he has been working as President Research, Bigtec Private Ltd, Bangalore. He was on a sabbatical at the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, USA (1980 and1982).
Academic and Research Achievements: During his studies on plant phenolics and microbial detoxification of naturally occurring phenolic compounds, Subba Rao discovered several novel pathways and new enzymes. His pioneering work on the allergic and toxic effects caused by the noxious weed Parthenium hysterophorus showed that the Parthenium weed can be detoxified by ensilation and the resultant silage can serve as a good nutritional supplement for dairy animals. While working at the Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, he developed for the first time an avidin-biotin based micro ELISA for quantitation of allergen-specific IgE antibodies which is widely used. He also demonstrated that resident skin fibroblasts can phagocytose mast cell granules released during an allergic reaction and modulate post inflammatory responses, a study widely quoted in text books. He made several original contributions in immunology including the demonstration of tropomyosin as a major allergen in sea foods. His studies at the UB Group resulted in patented novel biotech products, such as Hydroxycitrisol, Checkmite and Soluneem which have been commercialized. He has also developed a rapid ELISA test for identification of snake species and produced species specific anti-snake venom from chicken egg, an alternative for traditional horse ASV. He is currently overseeing the development of a handheld Micro PCR for rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases which is being extended to other applications. He has authored over 100 research articles and mentored about 40 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Subba Rao established a Laboratory for Immunology and Allergic Diseases. He also provided free allergy diagnostic service to public through a weekly allergy clinic. He has edited several books and also served on the Editorial boards of several journals.
Awards and Honours: Professor Subba Rao was Recipient of National VASVIK Award for Biological Sciences and Technology (1999). He was elected Fellow of the American Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Society and Indian College of Allergy & Applied Immunology.