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DBT’s first secretary passes away

Dr. S Ramachandran, a scientist of repute and a visionary leader was responsible for the setting up of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.

As the First Secretary of the Department of BiotechnologyDr. Ramachandran was responsible for creating a vibrant research ecosystem across the countryfocusing on all the important components of Human resource, Infrastructure and Research capacities India was one of the first countries to boast of a separate Department of Biotechnology, in the Government.

Born on September 9th, 1934, Dr. S. Ramachandran received his Bachelor of Science from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 1955 and then his Master of Science from Banaras Hindu University in 1957. Under a merit fellowship, Dr. S. Ramachandran went on to earn his doctorate at the University of Illinois in 1960, specializing in biochemistry. In 1961, Dr. S. Ramachandran joined the Hindustan Antibiotics Limited,Poona as a CSIR scientist and roseup to become its head of research in 1972. In 1977 he was appointed Chief Executive of Bengal Immunity Company Limited, Government of India, an organization he successfully turned around.

He was appointed Member Secretary of the National Biotechnology Board in New Delhi in 1982. It did not take him long to highlight the importance of a separate department and in 1986 he became the first Secretary to the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. During his nearly 7-year tenure as Secretary, he initiated several successful mission programmes in the areas of immunization, tissue culture, aqua culture, academic and industrial training and information technology.

After his retirement in 1992, Dr. Ramachandran held several international positions: Chairman, WHO commission on Children’s Vaccine Initiative; Chairman, Biotechnology Advisory Commission, Swedish Environment Institute; Founding Member, Children’s Vaccine Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Member Strategic Advisory Council, Malaria Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has served as the Chairman, Research Council for CLRI and the Member, Research Council for CDRI, CCMB, NCL, IMTECH and NIV. He is also an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Medical Science, World Academy of Arts and Science and National Academy of Science, United States.

In 2007 he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his contributions to Indian science. The scientific community will remember him fondly for his contributions to the advancement of biosciences. The entire DBT family gratefully acknowledges his enormous contribution in laying the foundation of this Department.

The Department announces the institution of a named annual lecture in his honour. The Dr. S. Ramachandran Lecture will be delivered each year by an eminent person, from India or abroad.