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Professor (Dr) Lalji Singh - A Profile

Born on July 5, 1947, at Jaunpur district of the Indian state of Uttar Predesh, it was dedication, hard work and intelligence which rose Professor (Dr) Lalji Singh to a level of the Director of one of the premier institution in the field of cellular and molecular biology, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderbad.

Popularly known as Lalji, Dr. Singh has obtained his Bachelors Degree in Sciences (B.Sc.) in 1964. He was awarded Banaras Hindu Gold Medal for standing first in order of merit in M.Sc. Zoology examination of 1966. He was awarded Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) of U.G.C. in 1966 and Senior Research Fellowship (SRF) of CSIR in 1972. Lalji was awarded Ph.D. in 1971 by the Banaras Hindu University for his work in the area of Cytogenetics and he worked on "Evolution of karyotypes in snakes".

During 1970 to 1972 Lalji was Research Associate at the Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University and later on Pool Officer at the Calcutta University during April - September 1974. He was awarded Commonwealth Fellowship in 1974 to carry out research at the Edinburgh University U.K from 1974 to 1976. Later on he worked as Research Associate in two stints (1977-79 and 1979-87) at the same university. During his leave from U.K. he joined Calcutta University (Department of Zoology) as Guest Scientist (October 1976 - April 1977). From July to September 1979 Lalji was invited as Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra. Lalji was awarded Dr. S. P. Basu Memorial Medal of Zoological Society, Calcutta in 1973 for his outstanding contribution in the field of Cytogenetics. In 1974 Indian National Science Academy decorated him with Science Academy Medal for Young Scientists.

In June 1987 Lalji came back to India and joined Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad as senior scientist. It was a call from the Nation, which he promptly responded. Areas of his research interest involves molecular basis of sex determination, DNA fingerprinting, wildlife conservation, silkworm genome analysis, human genome and ancient DNA studies.

Dr. Lalji Singh and his colleagues developed a probe called Bkm-derived probe for DNA fingerprinting which brought CCMB to limelight. Since then this probe is being extensively used for forensic investigation, paternity determination and seed stock verification. For the first time in the annals of Indian history DNA fingerprinting evidence was presented in the court of law. The Kerala High Court upheld the verdict and since then this indigenous technique has been used in more than 300 cases including sensational cases such as assassination of the Late Prime Minister of India Shri. Rajiv Gandhi etc. This fetched him and his group CSIR Technology Award for the year 1992 for biological sciences.

This unique work of Lalji, prompted Government of India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) to form autonomous institution "Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD)" in 1995. Currently housed at CCMB, Lalji shouldered the responsibility of setting up of this new national facility. As its Officer-on-Special-Duty (OSD), Lalji worked towards development, acquisition and standardization of protocols for carrier detection, prenatal diagnosis and genetic counseling for all the genetic disorders prevalent within India.

In July 1998 he was appointed as the Director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. He has guided several students and research worker both at CCMB and CDFD. He is recognized guide for Ph.D. of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad. He has published more than 80 research papers in reputed national and international journals. Member of many Professional and academic bodies, Dr. Lalji Singh has organized several training programs and has participated in more than dozen collaborative research works.

He has been honoured with many prestigious awards which include; VASVIK Research Award (1992), Renbaxy Research Award (1994), Prof. S.P. Ray-Chaudhari 75th Birthday Endowment Lecture Award (1994), Prof. Vishwa Nath Memorial Lecture Award (1995), Jagdish Chandra Bose Award for research in Life Sciences (1995), Haldane Oration Medal (1996), Sri. Om Prakash Bhasin Award for Science & Technology (1996), Padmabhushan Dr. P S Siva Reddy Endowment Award (1997), Joy Govind Law Memorial Medal of 1997, Dr. Yellapragada Subbarow Memorial Oration (1998), Indian Academy of Neurology Oration (1998), Honorary Professor, University of Hyderabad (1998) and Scroll of Honour - Outstanding Forensic Expert Award (1998).

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