Karuppannan Veluthambi obtained BSc and MSc (Botany) (1975, winning Gold Medal also), both from Madras University, after which he joined the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore and obtained his PhD (1981) under the supervision of Professor Ramesh Maheshwari. Subsequently, he worked as Postdoctoral Fellow (1981-88) with Dr John Giovanelli (at NIH, Bethesda, USA), Professor BW Poovaiah (at Washington State University, USA) and Professor Stanton B Gelvin (at Purdue University, USA). During this period, he delineated the role of calcium and calmodulin in regulating protein phosphorylation in plants and characterized the T-DNA transfer intermediates transferred from Agrobacterium into plants. On returning to India (1988), Veluthambi joined Madurai Kamaraj University, where he is continuing now as Professor and Head, School of Biotechnology. He was also Dean of Research and Development in the University (2005-08).
Academic and Research Achievements: While at the Madurai Kamaraj University, Veluthambi established teaching and research programmes in plant genetic engineering. He made the first report on T-DNA transfer beyond the left T-DNA border, resulting in 'long transfer' events. He cloned and sequenced Mungbean yellow mosaic virus which causes the yellow mosaic disease in blackgram. Hairpin RNA-mediated RNA silencing was shown to protect blackgram from the yellow mosaic disease. He generated marker-free transgenic rice, which addresses an important biosafety concern of horizontal spread of antibiotic resistance genes to soil bacteria. He has also mentored 15 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Under the leadership of Professor A Gnanam, Veluthambi established a DBT Centre for Plant Molecular Biology in Madurai. As a part of DBT's manpower development efforts, he set up a Technician Training Programme in Biotechnology in Madurai to teach the Diploma Course in Methods in Biotechnology. He established international research programmes in Madurai Kamaraj University with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, USA and Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology. He was elected as Member of Guha Research Conference in 2002.
Awards and Honours: Veluthambi was elected to Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore in 2002.