Gopalasamundram Narayana Ramachandran received PhD (1949) from University of Cambridge, UK; DSc (1948) from University of Madras; and DSc (hc) from the universities of Roorkee, Banaras and Hyderabad. He held various positions as Head, Department of Physics (1952-70), Director, Centre of Advanced Study in Biophysics & Crystallography (1962-70), and Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow, University of Madras (1968-70); Part-time Professor of Biophysics, University of Chicago (1967-78); Head, Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore (1970-78); Head, Mathematical Philosophy Group, IISc (1978-81); CSIR Distinguished Scientist (1982-84); and INSA Albert Einstein Research Professor (1984-89).
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Ramachandran is considered to be one of the founders of the rapidly developing field of molecular biophysics. His contributed mainly to the theory of molecular structure of biopolymers in relation to their biological activities. In 1954-56, along with G Kartha, he put forward the triple helical structure of collagen. Attempts to revise the details of this structure from theory led to the enunciation of the so-called Ramachandran plot for the dihedral angles (rho, psi) for two connected analogues. This was a turning point in the evolution of the theory of biopolymer conformation and finds application in almost all branches of biochemistry and molecular biology. It was extended to nucleic acid and polysaccharides conformation in his laboratories. He and his group developed methods of using anomalous dispersion of X-rays for solving the phase problem. His work on Fourier transforms led him to the formulation of the convolution technique for axial tomography. His work with AV Lakshminarayanan was acclaimed as the starting point for the development of CAT scan technique in radiography and later to magnetic resonance imaging. He co-authored the book Fourier Methods in Crystallography (Wiley-Interscience, 1970), contributed six monographs/chapter/articles to advanced books and edited seven volumes.
Other Contributions: Professor Ramachandran worked at a Boolean Vector-Matrix Formalism for the representation of logical variables and operators. He wrote a computer program in FORTRAN, called MATLOG, for computer application of this formalism. He was Editor of the journals Current Science (1950-58) and Journal of the Indian Institute of Science (1973-77). He also served as Member on Editorial boards of eight journals, including Journal of Molecular Biology and International Journal of Protein & Peptide Research. His served as Chairman, National Committee for Biophysics (1967-76) and National Committee for Crystallography (1963-70); Member, IUPAB Council, IUPAB Commission on Macromolecular Biophysics (1969-74), and various sub-commissions of the Commission on Biochemical Nomenclature of IUPAC-IUB (1966-79).
Awards and Honours: Professor Ramachandran was conferred SS Bhatnagar Prize (1961); Watumull Memorial Prize (1964); John Arthur Wilson Award by American Leather Chemists’ Association (1967); Meghnad Saha Medal by Asiatic Society (1971); Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal by INSA (1972); JC Bose Award by UGC (1976); JC Bose Award by Bose Institute (1977); Fogarty International Medal by NIH (1978); IISc Alumni Award (1979), Sir CV Raman Medal by INSA (1982); RD Birla Award (1985); CSIR Golden Jubilee Award (1991); and CSIR Jawaharlal Nehru Award (1992). He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and Royal Society of Arts, London; Founder Member, Indian Academy of Yoga, The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS); Honorary Member, American Society of Biological Chemists; and Honorary Foreign Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Honorary Fellow, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad, and IISc.