Balasubramanian did his BSc (1957) from Presidency College, Madras and MSc (1959) from Birla College, Pilani. He obtained his PhD degree (1965) in Chemistry from Columbia University, New York, USA, working in the area of polypeptide synthesis and conformations, using structural spectroscopy. After 18 months of post-doctoral research at the University of Minnesota Medical School in the area of protein chemistry (particularly the study of hydrophobic interactions), he returned to India in 1967 and joined IIT, Kanpur. In 1977, he moved to the University of Hyderabad and in 1982 to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), where he was Deputy Director and later became Director. He took early retirement from CCMB in 1998 to join the LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, as its Director of Research, a position he continues to hold.
Academic and Research Achievements: On return to India, Balasubramanian joined the Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, where he taught chemistry to undergraduates and spectroscopic methods and frontier topics in biological sciences to postgraduate students. His research work was focused on biophysical chemistry, particularly, on peptides and proteins, and membrane structures. Since 1985, he has focused attention on the biochemistry and cell biology of the eye, particularly, on cataract and glaucoma. He has over 160 publications and has mentored 16 PhD students.
Other Contributions: Balasubramanian has been a promoter and activist in the area of the public understanding of science, and writes a regular fortnightly science column in the newspaper The Hindu, Member of UNESCO's International Basic Sciences Panel, Member of UNESCO's Bioethics Group, and Chairman of the Indian Department of Biotechnology's (DBT) Task Force on Stem Cell Research. He has been Chief of the Andhra Pradesh Government's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology (1997-2006). He is on the Editorial Board of several international and national professional journals.
Awards and Honours: Balasubramanian has received the Padma Shri (2002) and l'Ordre de National du Merite from France (2002). He has received the INSA's Indira Gandhi Prize for Popularization of Science and JC Bose Medal (1998), DST's National Prize for Popularization of Science, UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science, TWAS Prize in Basic Medical Sciences and Iran's Khwarizmi Prize in Basic Medical Sciences. He is also the receipent of SS Bhatnagar Prize, Goyal Award, Bhasin Award, FICCI Award and Sarma Award of India. He is also a Fellow of all three Science Academies of India and served as the Editor of INSA Publications (1955-97). Currently, he is the President of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (2007-10), Secretary General of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS; 2007-10), President of Society of Biological Chemists India (2007-09).