Prof. Joseph D Padayatty Memorial Award

Prof. Joseph D Padayatty memorial award has been instituted by alumnus Dr. Krishnan Nandabalan in memory of his PhD mentor Prof. Joseph D Padayatty through an endowment to IISc.

Prof. Joseph D Padayatty memorial award will be given in two categories in the Department of Biochemistry, IISc:

  1. The first author or co-first authors (not more than 3) of an outstanding research paper published from the Department of Biochemistry, IISc in a year (Jan-Dec or August-July) in which the faculty member of the Dept. is the corresponding or cocorresponding author. This award is open for undergraduate, Integrated PhD and PhD students as well as project assistants and postdoctoral fellows of the Department of Biochemistry, IISc.

  2. A student/postdoc/project assistant of the Department of Biochemistry, IISc whose research has led development of a novel product or process or technique or research reagent. Preferably, the research work should have led to a patent which has been licensed to a company, a technology that was transferred to industry or a startup that has attracted external funding.

A total of two awards (one each in category A and B) will be given annually. Award in each category carries a cash prize of Rs. 1,00,000/- and a citation.

About Prof. Joseph Devassy Padayatty (1928–2014)

Prof. J. D. Padayatty was born on 10 July 1928 in Puthanpally, Varapuzha, Kerala, India.  He obtained his Ph.D. (1961-65) at the Department of Biochemistry, St Louis University, Missouri, USA, where he continued on to pursue postdoctoral research (1965-68).  In 1968, he joined Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore as a pool officer and was eventually offered a faculty position at the Department of Biochemistry where he worked until his retirement in 1988. At IISc, he elucidated the molecular mechanisms involved early in the germination of rice and was the first to clone a gene in India. He, along with his colleagues at IISc, introduced molecular biology in India, eventually establishing it as a distinct field within biochemistry. His group at IISc worked on bacteriophages as well as molecular biology of rice and made pioneering contributions in both areas.  He characterized the genes of colitis phage and studied the mechanism of packaging of the genome. With his inherent qualities of inquisitiveness and questioning nature, it was second nature for him to encourage his students to ask fundamental questions in biology.  His group demonstrated that rice embryo contains translation-ready conserved mRNAs, which get instantly translated the moment water is given to the dormant seed. These were the mRNAs for histones lacking the poly(A) tail that is a hallmark of typical, short-lived mRNAs.  At a time when it was rare for Ph.D. work to be accepted for publication in Nature, two papers in the ‘letters’ format got published in Nature rom his lab at IISc. Towards the end of his career, he worked on application-oriented projects and one of the students cloned and expressed an antigen from FMDV as a potential vaccine. Much before marker-assisted selection became popular, he felt that non-conventional breeding can be achieved by simply transferring donor genomic DNA into an embryo!

Prof. Padayatty was elected as fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1986 and the Indian National Science Academy in 1987.  After retirement, he went back to his ancestral home and spent his spare time advising various institutions in Kerala on Biotechnology. His main passion, post-retirement, was farming and he tried to use his scientific knowledge and temper to do modern agriculture.  He passed away on 26 August 2014. Prof. Padayatty was married to Mary and they had three children Sebastian, Jasmine and Maylin.

About Dr. Krishnan (aka Nandu) Nandabalan

Dr. Krishnan Nandabalan obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in agricultural science from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India. He joined the Department of Biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, India, in 1984 and obtained his Ph.D. under the mentorship of Prof. Joseph D. Padayatty. In 1989, he moved to the USA to pursue his postdoctoral research at Yale University, New Haven, CT. He then joined CuraGen, a biopharmaceutical company developing cancer therapeutics, as Group Leader of the Functional Genomics Group. Next, he moved to Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, a trailblazer in the widespread acceptance of pharmacogenomics, where he served as VP, Corporate Development.  Equipped with a thorough understanding of the innovation bottlenecks in the pharmaceutical industry, he began his entrepreneurial journey and in 2005 founded BioXcel, a pioneer in applying big data analytics to significantly improve the clinical and regulatory success of drug discovery and development, with offices in Connecticut, USA and in Gurugram, India. After serving more than 150 global biopharmaceutical clients in 2017, co-founded spinouts BioXcel Therapeutics (NASDAQ: BTAI), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI), approaches to develop transformative medicines in neuroscience and immuno-oncology and InveniAI LLC, a global leader in applying AI and machine learning to identify and accelerate the development of transformational therapies for patients with unmet medical needs. He currently serves as the President and CEO of InveniAI.

Dr. Nandabalan has over two decades of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including R&D, operations, and business development. In addition, he has extensive experience in M&A and/out-licensing and has completed deals with key industry players such as GSK, Pfizer, J&J, AstraZeneca, Pharmacia, BMS, Biogen, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Merck KGaA, Organon, Daiichi Sankyo, Otsuka, Takeda, Kyowa Kirin, and Shionogi. He has 12 issued patents and several publications in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Nandabalan lives in Guilford, CT, and is married to Dr. Suganthi Balasubramanian, with whom he has two sons, Sandeep and Santosh.