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IISc cancer researcher wins Kobayashi Foundation Award

Dr. Sathees C. Raghavan from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, has been chosen for the Kobayashi Foundation Award 2016. The prestigious award carries a cash prize of one million Japanese yen.

Dr. Sathees C. Raghavan is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science.

The Kobayashi Foundation, based in Japan, annually presents its award to scientists from Asian countries other than Japan, who have made significant contributions to cancer chemotherapy.

In 2012, Dr Raghavan's group indigenously developed what are called NHEJ inhibitors -  a novel class of cancer drugs. This work was published in Cell, a highly reputed scientific journal, and attracted a lot of media attention too. Nominated for the Kobayashi Award by the Director of the IISc, Dr. Raghavan can now add another trophy to his growing collection of scientific achievements.

Dr. Raghavan obtained his Ph.D. in Zoology from the Benares Hindu University. He went on to do his post-doctoral research at the Norris Cancer Centre in the University of Southern California before joining the Department of Biochemistry, IISc, in 2006, as an Assistant Professor. With 100 original articles and five patents to his credit in a short span of ten years, his research is well known in the field of cancer and DNA repair. He was also awarded the Shanthi Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Biological Sciences in 2013, in addition to numerous fellowships and awards over the years.

Speaking on his selection for the Kobayashi Foundation Award, Dr. Raghavan says, “This is something good, a proud moment for the Institute. However, awards never make me extra happy; what makes me happy is new discoveries in science.” With more than 15 students constantly involved in pushing the frontiers of cancer therapy, his laboratory is always abuzz with activity. Speaking of his plans for SCR7, which is the name of the NHEJ inhibitor that the laboratory has developed, Dr. Raghavan is a picture of excitement. “Others are using our inhibitor to improve various technologies. For example, by blocking NHEJ, you can improve the precision of CRISPR-Cas9, a new and radical genome editing technique.” Today, there are over thirty companies selling SCR7, and Dr. Raghavan’s lab is working on developing new variants of the molecule to improve sensitivity, drug delivery and other parameters.

With his stellar contributions to cancer research, Dr. Raghavan is providing a well needed impetus to the recognition of Indian science in the world forum. It is heart-warming to see Indian research being used as a building block for further studies. With more international recognition such as the Kobayashi Foundation Award, the future of Indian research in cancer and cancer chemotherapy promises to shine brighter than before.

 

Dr. Sathees C. Raghavan is an Associate Professor at Department of Biochemistry at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. He can be reached at sathees@biochem.iisc.ernet.in

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