Prof. R Sowdhamini
Distinguished Professor, and Mazumdar-Shaw Chair in Computational Biology
Research Focus Keywords:
Structural Bioinformatics; Protein domain superfamilies; Plant genomics/transcriptomics
Prof. R. Sowdhamini, who is Distinguished Professor, and Mazumdar-Shaw Chair in Computational Biology at IBAB, and senior Professor at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), has made multi-faceted contributions to the field of protein science. After a masters in chemistry from IIT-Madras, she received her PhD from the Molecular Biophysics Unit of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Subsequently she did postdoctoral work at Birkbeck, University of London and the University of Cambridge. She returned to Bangalore, and joined NCBS, where she has been based for over 20 years.
Sowdhamini is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Science Academy. She was an International Senior Fellow of the Wellcome Trust, London and had received the Human Frontier Science Program Award. She is currently a J C Bose Fellow.
- PhD: Molecular Biophysics Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (1986-92)
- Postdoctoral Research: Imperial Cancer Research Fund Unit, Department of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, London (1992-1996) and Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge (1996-1998)
National Centre for Biological Sciences (TIFR), Bangalore (1998 – present)
With the boom in sequencing technologies, an enormous amount of data is being generated and continuously heaping up. It can be used to infer interesting theories about the physiology, behavior, and putative lifestyle (pathogenicity/symbiosis/parasitism) of the respective organism. My lab will use computational biology tools to bridge this gap between sequencing data and biological function prediction.
Genome sequencing projects have enormous potential for benefiting human endeavors. However, just as acquiring a language’s vocabulary does not enable one to speak it, databases that list the amino acid composition of proteins do not directly tell us much about these proteins’ higher-level structure and function. The most productive way to indirectly exploit these databases has been to start with the small number of proteins that are fully-characterised and to assume that other “similar” proteins will have a related structure and function. Fortunately, this assumption is supported by the strong convergence of millions of proteins adopting a limited and small number of structures. Proteins with very similar amino acid sequence are “no-brainers”, but the real test, which our group largely focuses on, is to detect the “essential” similarity in proteins whose non-critical sections have experienced random rearrangements during evolution. In such cases functionally similar proteins may have less than 25% sequence overlap. To enable to analyse, ascertain and predict these distant relationships, the group has developed computational algorithms and protocols; most of these are available in the public domain and accessible through https://www.ncbs.res.in/faculty/mini-research Structural analyses within- and cross-genome surveys of the members of protein families and superfamilies have been pursued. Interests towards drug design have been extended to examine protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions. The group has contributed to the study of protein-DNA interactions, such as the identification of transcription factor binding sites which are central to plant stress manangement. Finally, the group has adopted few medicinal plants, like Tulsi and Moringa, for genomics and transcriptomics studies.
Dr. Vasundhara Gadiyaram (post-doctoral fellow)
Mr. Mutya Seshank (senior research fellow)
Full list of students working in NCBS in her group can be found at www.ncbs.res.in/mini-lab-members