Gurdev Singh Khush received BSc (Agri) degree (1955) from Government Agricultural College (now Punjab Agricultural University), Ludhiana and PhD (1960) from the University of California, Davis. After serving as an Assistant Geneticist at University of California, Davis for seven years, he joined International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los Banos, Philippines (1967) as a Plant Breeder. He was promoted as Head of Plant Breeding Department in 1972 and became Principal Plant Breeder and Head, Division of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biochemistry (1986). He retired from IRRI in 2002 and joined the University of California, Davis as an Adjunct Professor in Plant Sciences Department.
Academic and Research Achievements: Dr Khush started his career as a cytogeneticist. He established series of primary, secondary, tertiary and compensating trisomics of tomato and utilized these trisomics for associating linkage groups with respective chromosomes. All centromeres were mapped, 129 genes were delimited to respective chromosome arms and orientations of all linkage groups were determined. At IRRI, Dr Khush spearheaded the programme for developing high yielding varieties of rice with short growth duration, disease and insect resistance and superior grain quality. More than 300 varieties developed under his leadership have been released in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Wide scale adoption of these varieties led to a major increase in rice production. Resulting green revolution provided both nutritional and economic benefits to over a billion people in developing countries. He authored three books, edited six books and published 300 scientific papers. Dr Khush trained numerous rice breeders and mentored twenty four PhD and twenty five MSc students.
Other Contributions: Dr Khush visited fifty rice growing countries and advised National Rice Programme on problems of rice improvement and production. He served as an Advisor to the International Science Foundation, Sweden and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Italy. He served as a member of Scientific Advisory Committee to the Rockefeller Foundation's International Programme on Rice Biotechnology and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India. He served on the Editorial Boards of 10 scientific journals.
Awards and Honours: Dr Khush received Borlaug Award (1977), Japan Prize (1987), World food Prize (1996), Rank Prize (1998), Wolf Prize (2000) and Padma Shri from the President of India. He received DSc (hc) degrees from ten universities including Cambridge University and Ohio State University. He was elected to the Fellowship of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad; National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi; the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World; Chinese Academy of Sciences; Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences; US National Academy of Sciences; and The Royal Society (London).