Kuppuswamy Nagarajan obtained BSc (Hons) in Chemistry (1950) from Loyola College, Madras, and PhD (1954) from University of Madras for his studies on aporphine alkaloids under the guidance of TR Govindachari. He then worked there for another three years on the structure elucidation of several natural products such as tylophorine, gentianine and wedelolactone. He was postdoctoral Fellow, Wayne State University, Detroit (1957-59), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (1959-60) and Zurich University, Switzerland (1961-62). Thereafter, he held various positions as Head, Medicinal Chemistry, Ciba Research Center (1962-84); Director, R&D of Searle India, Bombay (1984-92); Founder Director R&D Centre, Recon Ltd (1992-2001); Corporate Advisor, Hikal Ltd, Mumbai (2001-); and Advisor, R&D Center, Alkem Laboratories Ltd, Bangalore (2006- ). Under the Senior Scientist Exchange Programme of INSA, he visited the Royal Society (1982-83), French Academy (1984-85) and Polish Academy (1988-89).
Academic and Research Achievements: While at Ciba Research Center, Nagarajan's efforts resulted in more than 20 new compounds being taken to the clinical stage, out of which five were given marketing permission by the Drug Controller of India. Two of these, Sintamil and Satranidazole later became available in the Indian market. An antiamoebic, quinfamide was another major contribution. CGI 17341, a nitroimidazooxazole with potent antitubercular properties, was his most significant contribution, since it spawned two analogues, a nitroimidazooxazole and a nitroimidazooxazine which are in Phase II clinical trials now. At Searle India Ltd, he and his group worked for the development of various crop protection chemicals and drugs resulting in development of azathioprine and quinfamide drugs, and butachlor and flucythrinate crop protection chemicals. While at Hikal Ltd, many processes were evolved for drugs like gabapentin, gemfibrozil and Ondansetron. He also became a consultant for AstraZeneca Research for medicinal chemistry relating to TB. He has published more than 280 research papers and collaborated with X-ray crystallographers to unravel structure-activity relationships.
Other Contributions: Dr Nagarajan set up R&D centres for Searle (1984), Recon (1992) and Alkem (2006). He was Founder Member of the National Organic Symposium Trust. He served as President, Indian Chemical Society, Mumbai Branch.
Awards and Honours: Dr Nagarajan won the SS Bhatnagar Prize for Chemical Sciences (1974), Life Time Achievement Award of the Chemical Research Society of India (2004), Professor Venkataraman Lecture Award (1979 and 2007) and Platinum Jubilee Lecture Award of the Indian Science Congress (1995). He was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1974) and the Maharashtra Academy of Sciences.