Dr. S. CHANDRASEKHAR
Dr. Srivari Chandrasekhar is currently Director of CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology. As Director, several initiatives of national relevance have been taken up under his mentorship. One of the most relevant is building mission of Innovative Processes & Technologies for Indian Pharmaceutical and Agrochemical Sector Industries (INPROTICSPharma and Agro) wherein 15 important APIs are developed end to end without depending on importing any raw materials, and pharma industry collaborates with the academic institutions to serve the nation towards affordable health care. During XII Five-year Plan (2012-2017), Dr. S. Chandrasekhar was instrumental in building Mission “ORIGIN” (Organic Reactions In Generating Innovative NCEs) to develop new tools of organic synthesis for platform reactions. This program became basis for starting important national programs currently in Health and Chemicals’ Themes of the country.
In the present conditions, he has concentrated all the efforts on developing cost-effective synthetic routes for APIs with a focus on COVID-19 treatment. Over 15 generic APIs are currently being repurposed for the mitigation of this pandemic.
A team from CSIR-IICT, in collaboration with NGOs, has been deploying pheromone lures to help farmers reduce the load of pesticides and increase farm output. He has taken initiatives to implement government policies and schemes to enhance the farmers’ income through propagation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), conducting training classes for farmers and integrating CSIR technologies.
Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India being one of the large producers of heavy water realised, many nuclear plants were not in need of heavy water because of newer technologies. Thus, to make heavy water useful in non-nuclear purposes DAE has taken the help of Dr S Chandrasekhar’s group to build deuterated chemicals in pharma and agriculture. Dr. S. Chandrasekhar has built international programmes with Australia, France, Russia, USA, South Korea, Germany, Japan and UK. A major initiative that he has taken up was to connect to African countries by opening vistas with Africa through TWAS and CSIR programmes. The IndoFrench joint laboratory, built in IICT in collaboration with CNRS, France, is considered as a role model laboratory for partnerships. CSIR-IICT and RMIT, Australia also run a similar laboratory where students get PhD degree from RMIT, Australia
IICT currently hosts start-ups on campus and the mentorship provided by Dr. S. Chandrasekhar is worth mentioning. Dr. S. Chandrasekhar is an advisor to State Government for building India’s largest pharma city (~18000 acres), in Telangana state. India’s first National Molbank is conceived and built, inspired by the sample repository of Glaxo SmithKline, UK. This facility currently hosts about 5000 pure natural products, 60000 new chemical entities with full chemical & biological screening data to take up drug discovery activities.
The scientific, societal, commercial implications of the research carried out by Chandrasekhar and his group have both tangible and non-tangible impacts. The research publications, though academic in nature, have been widely used by industry. For example, the transition metal catalysed reactions in polyethylene glycol allowed industries to expand their patent portfolio and circumvent patents to perform reactions. The B(C 6F 5) 3 catalysis for interconversion of protective groups of nucleosides is extensively used by industry as it involves neutral reaction conditions at low cost. The production of oral abortive in India for the first time allowed the industry to minimize the imports simultaneously ensuring wider access.
To date 70 students have already been awarded doctoral degree under his supervision and 20 students are pursuing their doctoral work on various themes in total synthesis, green chemistry, automation combinatorial chemistry, process chemistry and chemical biology. Though, synthetic organic chemistry is less attractive to girl students, Chandrasekhar continues to have gender balance in his group.
Dr S Chandrasekhar is an excellent synthetic organic chemist and has 290 publications and 19 patents (see List of Publications and Patents). These research contributions are already cited close to 8000 times.