Updated on 10 July 2012
While we are still trying to workout the best strategy to produce cellulosic bioethanol in the most cost effective manner, we are aware of that bioethanol is perhaps not the best alternative liquid fuel. We are at the advance stage of engineering a laboratory microbe that would give us high yield of bio-butanol, a molecule that is considered closer to petroleum fuel in terms of its properties. We are also applying various systems and synthetic biology approaches to construct a microbe for production of hydrocarbon for use as fungible fuel.
You have had a prolific research career. What have been your most important achievements?
My overall career goal had been to perform research that would have direct implication to the benefit of human kind. I feel content that the projects that I worked in the past could come out of the academic laboratory and have been undertaken by the industry. These include the recombinant streptokinase that I worked during my graduate study at Jawaharlal Nehru University and three malaria vaccine candidates that I worked at ICGEB. All these biomolecules were transferred to the Indian Biotech industries and were produced at industrial scale.
However, the most important achievements of my life had been to establish a full fledge synthetic biology and biofuel laboratory at ICGEB, which is the first-of-its-kind in India to perform research in biofuel area at the molecular level.
What are your views on the life science-related R&D, activities and trends in Asia?