Professor Kalappagowda Muniyappa obtained his BSc (1972) and MSc (1974) with first rank from the University of Mysore and PhD (1980) from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. He did post-doctoral research (1981-87) first at the University of Georgia, and then at Yale University School of Medicine, USA. He returned to India in 1988, and joined the faculty of IISc. He became a full Professor in 1999 and is presently Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry (2003- ). He has also been the American Cancer Society Visiting Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA, and has held similar positions at Osaka University, University of Sydney and Medical Research Council, London.
Academic and Research Contributions: Muniyappa has made several conceptually important and widely cited contributions to the areas of chromosome synapsis, genetic recombination and telomere dynamics, the findings that have significant implications for gene targeting, cell senescence and genome stability. He has made pioneering contributions in bringing higher complexity to the biochemical issues of cellular recombination and resolution of the Holliday junction. He uncovered the existence of a negative regulatory mechanism of homologous recombination, which has been regarded as a fail-safe mechanism to prevent deleterious effects of genomic rearrangements and induction of genotoxicity by inappropriate recombinational DNA repair. He also uncovered a direct role for DNA damage response proteins in telomere length homeostasis, cell senescence and cell cycle checkpoint control. This discovery broke an obscure field wide open and has brought it to the attention of all biologists. He has led the way in deciphering genetic recombination in TB bacilli, which has provided important insights into the mechanism of genetic exchange and lateral gene transfer. Working at the interface of genetics, biochemistry and structural biology, he has demonstrated a proclivity for identifying abstract principles that underlie complex biological phenomena and has used these concepts to solve concrete, practical problems. He has mentored several Ph D and post-doctoral students.
Other Contributions: Muniyappa has shown deep commitment to science teaching. He served as the Founding Coordinator of (i) Integrated PhD programme, (ii) Interdisciplinary programme in chemical biology and (iii) National post-doctoral training programme in Biotechnology and Life Sciences. He has been a Member of the Editorial Board of several national and international journals, including Journal of Biosciences and Indian Journal of Biophysics and Biochemistry, and served the Society of Biological Chemists as its Honorary Secretary and Vice President.
Awards and Honours: Muniyappa has been the recipient of several awards and honours, which include: Hanumantha Rao Memorial Medal (1980); Rockefeller Foundation Career Development Award (1990-92); M Sreenivasaya Memorial Award (1994); SS Bhatnagar Prize (1995); Eleanor Roosevelt Award of the American Cancer Society (1995); Yamagiwa International Cancer Fellowship Award, Switzerland (1999); Professor Vishwanath Memorial Lecture (2001) of INSA; Anima Sen Memorial Award (2002); JC Bose National Fellowship (2006-11); IISc Alumni Award (2007); and Kempe Gowda Award (2007). He is the Founding Member of the Karnataka State Academy for Science and Technology and Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1994); National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1998).