Jayaraman Gowrishankar graduated in medicine (MBBS) from the Christian Medical College, Vellore (University of Madras) in 1979 and was recipient of the Gold Medal for best outgoing student of his batch. Choosing to pursue a career in basic research, he then proceeded to the University of Melbourne, Australia, to work with Professor James Pittard as his mentor in the Department of Microbiology and obtained his PhD (1983). Dr Gowrishankar returned to India to join the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad as Scientist and Group Leader (1983), and established his laboratory to undertake research in physiology and genetics of the model bacterium E coli. He moved to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad (2000) to establish and head the Laboratory of Bacterial Genetics. Dr Gowrishankar superannuated on 31 March, 2016 from position of the Director of CDFD.
Academic and Research Achievements: The work of Dr Gowrishankar's group in India has covered several areas of bacterial physiology. His notable contributions included the discovery of the operon and its exquisite osmotic regulation, proposal of an alternative model for regulation of the potassium transport operon kdp, identification of an arginine exporter ArgO and delineation of a novel mechanism by which it is regulated by arginine and lysine, determination of the mechanisms of precise excision of transposable elements, demonstration of the occurrence of spontaneous mutations in non-dividing bacterial cells, and enunciation of a new hypothesis that toxic RNA-DNA hybrids (R-loops) are prone to occur from nascent untranslated transcripts in E coli. Based on the work on proU, his group has also developed and patented a generic process for salt-inducible overproduction of recombinant proteins in E. coli.
Other Contributions: Member, INSA Council (2007-09).
Awards and Honours: Dr Gowrishankar has been the recipient of the INSA Medal for Young Scientists (1986), CSIR Young Scientist Award (1987), BM Birla Prize (1991), SS Bhatnagar Prize (1997), FICCI Award (1997), New Millennium Medal of Indian Science Congress (2000), Om Prakash Bhasin Award (2005), Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture Award of INSA (2005), JC Bose Fellowship (2007), Moselio Schaechter Distinguished Service Award of the American Society for Microbiology (2012) and Padma Shri Award (2013). He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad.