Mathur RN Murthy earned his BSc (Hons) in Physics from Bangalore University and MSc (Physics) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (now Chennai). He obtained his PhD on elucidation of structures of peptides from the Department of Organic Chemistry of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Subsequently, he joined Purdue University, USA, and worked on the structures of lobster tail glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate dehydrogenase and bovine liver catalase. He returned to India to join the Physics Department of IISc and after a year, he joined the Molecular Biophysics Unit of the IISc.
Academic and Research Achievements: Murthy initiated X-ray diffraction studies on virus particles in India. He determined the three-dimensional structure of two isometric ss-RNA plant viruses, sesbania mosaic virus and physalis mottle virus. In collaboration with HS Savithri, he investigated the intricacies of the mode of assembly of these two and other viruses. Structures of several site specific and mutant particles, displaying T=3 and T=1 icosahedral architectures, and structures of several enzymes involved in propionate metabolism in Salmonella typhimurium including methylisocitrate lyase, propionate kinase, etc. were determined. He along with Hema Balaram and P Balaram, also determined the three-dimensional structures of triosephosphate isomerase, adenylosuccinate synthase and hypoxanthine guanine phosphoribosyl transferase from the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum. The structure and function of pyridoxal phosphate dependent enzymes Bacillus stearothermophilus serinehydroxymethyl transferase, Salmonella typhimurium actetylornithine aminotransferase and diammonia propionate lyase have also been studied.
Other Contributions: Murthy is a frequent speaker in schools and colleges of Karnataka. He has written several articles on science and related issues in Kannada. He has written a popular science book on Biotechnology in Kannada.
Awards and Honours: Murthy is a recipient of SS Bhatnagar Prize (1993); Rustum Choksi Award of IISc (2002); GN Ramachandran Commemoration Medal (2003) of INSA; Astra-Zeneca Distinguished Scientist Award for the popularization of Science (2005); Hari Om Ashram Trust Awards of UGC (2004); and JC Bose Award (2005). He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1992); Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (2001); and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (2004).