Alumni Activities

Minutes of the IISc Biochemistry Department Alumni meeting held on September 21, 2019 in the Department of Biochemistry, IISc.

The following alumni, current and retired faculty members of the Biochemistry Department attended the meeting:

  • N. Appaji Rao
  • A Jagannadha Rao
  • M R S Rao
  • G Padmanaban
  • C Jayabaskaran
  • Patrick D’Silva
  • Tapas Kundu
  • Padma Priya
  • D N Rao
  • P N Rangarajan
  • Nagasuma Chandra
  • Umesh
  • S Anand Kumar
  • Ajith Kamath
  • Sudha Srinivasan
  • Ishtiyaq Ahmed
  • H S Savithri
  • C K Manjunath
  • Rajan Dighe
  • K Muralidhar
  • K Muniyappa
  • Dipankar Nandi
  • K Sankara Rao
  • Veena Anil
  • Manjula
  • Sathees Raghavan
  • Jyothi Prasanna
  • Anujith Kumar
  • Shyama Bhat
  • Santhanam
  • P V Subba Rao
  • P R Krishnaswamy
  • T Ramasarma
  • Sandeep Eswarappa
  • Ajit Kumar
  • Purusharth Rajyaguru
  • N Ganesh
  • Varsha Singh
  • Vineetha

A booklet entitled “100 years of Biochemistry at IISc” was circulated to all the members.

Prof P N Rangarajan, Chairman, Dept. Biochemistry, welcomed everyone and thanked them for their presence. He informed the members that the Biochemistry Department will complete 100 years of existence in February 2021 and this meeting was primarily organized to brief the alumni, current and former faculty of the Department about the various events being planned in the centennial year 2020-2021. He requested Prof. D N Rao, Chair, Centenary Celebrations committee to make a formal presentation.

Key dates:

  • February 21, 2020 ONE DAY Inaugural event:
  • December 10-12, 2020, THREE Day International conference:
  • February 20, 2021 one day Concluding ceremony:

Prof. D N Rao made a formal presentation of the department and plans for centenary events which included:

  • Brief history of the Department
  • Vision goals of the Department
  • Plans for the Centenary
  • celebrations
  • Alumni outreach
  • Funding

In this presentation he talked about the early research work done in the department from Prof. Gilbert Fowler’s time (1921) till Prof J Ganguly’s retirement as the Chairman of the department. He briefly talked about the research work done in the department from the late seventies till the present time. Prof. DN Rao presented the time schedules for the department’s centenary year celebrations. While the one day inaugural event is on Feb 21, 2020, he mentioned that Dr. Richard Roberts (Nobel laureate, 1993) is visiting the department in January 2020 and will deliver the first centenary lecture on January 10, 2020. For the February 21, 2020, the one day inaugural event, an exhibition depicting 100 years of the department will be inaugurated by Dr Renu Swarup, DBT Secretary - followed by two or three special lectures by well known scientists, one of them being Dr. Anand Swaroop, a former student of the department and who is currently the laboratory Chief at the National Eye Institute, NIH, Bethesda. The names of the other two scientists are yet to be finalised. Prof. DN Rao also mentioned about the closing ceremony event which will be on February 19, 2021 where Prof Venki Ramakrishnan will be delivering the Keynote lecture. Between these two events, he mentioned that the department centenary conference will be held from Dec 10 to 12th, 2020. Dr. Vishwa Dixit, Genentech has agreed to give the keynote lecture on December 10, 2020. The details of the three day centenary conference are yet to be discussed and finalised.

Towards the plans for the centenary celebrations, Prof. Rao talked about the departments’ efforts :

Collection of names & emails of alumni.

About 450 email IDs of former students of the department have been obtained and emails regarding the centenary celebrations are being communicated.

Requests to send photos and reminiscences.

He appealed to the faculty and alumni to send photographs of the department and people who were there at the time when they were students in the department. These photographs will be used for the exhibition and/or for the coffee table book which will be published at the time of the December centenary conference. He also mentioned that a number of alumni have been requested to write their reminiscences which will be compiled and brought out as a souvenir. Some alumni have already sent in their reminiscences along with photos. Dr. Rao also requested the alumni help in communication to spread and amplify messages.

The Archives cell, IISc is actively involved in setting up the exhibition in February 2020.

Some points for the exhibition on 21 Feb 2020 – in collaboration with the Archives cell, IISc

  • The beginnings, iconic building, lecture hall & courtyard
  • First 25 years - key discoveries
  • 26 - 75 years, key discoveries
  • Some equipments
  • 76 - 100 years, key discoveries
  • Alumni occupying key positions in Industry & academia - in India & abroad (Dr. Rao mentioned that the highlighting of outstanding alumni was important and appealed to the alumni to help gather the relevant information.)
  • Voices from the past by student alumni
  • Staff contributions
  • Teaching, Outreach programs and Company contributions by the BC Dept.
  • Current Dept - faculty, staff & students - with a vision for the future
  • Contacting potential speakers from abroad.
  • Contacting Archives cell to go over older documents & information.
  • Web site and social media outreach (see below)
  • Funding – for hosting exhibition, events etc, for Coffee table book & to create endowed chair positions, BC alumni fund etc

Suggestions from Participants:

  • Two or three conferences/ symposia may be organized by BC faculty between February and December 2020. One meeting in biochemistry may organized to felicitate BC faculty who are retiring in July 2020.
  • There were suggestions to hold a workshop for teachers in the area of Biochemistry in the Dept during summer 2020 and have outreach programs to different parts of the country. Some alumni volunteered to help in this regard and all these activities may be reported in the December 2020 meeting.
  • Efforts should be made to discuss with IISc administration to study the possibility of using a part of the old BC building as a museum to show case the legacy of the Dept. Also, the old lecture hall can be refurbished for the Centenary as several alumni have fond memories about that room. Perhaps, Prof. Rangarajan and Prof. DN Rao can talk to the Director, IISc about this aspect.
  • No systematic, organized efforts were made in the past to contact and communicate with alumni. Constant communication between the alumni and their alma mater is very essential. The Department, along with the IISc alumni association, can put some administrative structure in place to ensure that alumni are kept in contact.
  • It was suggested that to gain goodwill a personalized, well crafted memento with the name of the alumnus and year of graduation could be mailed to alumni. An alumnus residing in U.S. and frequently travelling to India offered to mail them to individuals in the U.S.
  • Attempts should be made to contact the UK Biochemical society and ASBMB and keep them informed about the Centenary activities of the Department.
  • The current budget to organize the three meetings is around Rs. 60-80 lakhs. It was felt that the budget can be increased and the surplus can be used to establish a BC CENTENARY CHAIR or BC Alumni Fund at IISc or BC. The aim should be to generate a corpus of at least ONE CRORE for this purpose.
  • Companies which were beneficiaries of the interactions with BC faculty should be contacted and informed about the centenary. BC alumni who are in high positions in companies abroad and have the liberty to spend some portion of the funds as they wish should be contacted for financial support. Attempts should be made by tapping the CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds of the corporate world. Some alumni will be happy to help in this regard. In addition, many alumni promised help in raising funds from governmental sources such as DBT, DST, CSIR, ICMR etc.
  • An appeal was made for contributions for the BC centenary (please see the details below for bank account transfer details). Several faculty and alumni are contributing to BC centenary fund.
  • A dedicated web site for teh BC centenary will be operation soon and the details will be communicated to the alumni soon.
  • Efforts should be made to highlight the contributions of BC alumni to the growth of organizations such as DRDO, ICMR, CSIR, DAE, DST etc. More efforts should be made to gather information on alumni in the academia or corporate sector abroad and their contributions should be highlighted. One of the suggestions was to showcase the achievements of BC alumni in Government organizations, Universities/Institutes and Industry in the write ups and the December meeting.
  • Many alumni offered to help in drafting the coffee table book that will be brought out before the December 2020 meeting.
  • An alumnus who could not attend the meeting sent the following suggestions by email:
  • Creation of website with highly interactive weblinks to other portals
  • A dedicated full-time resource person-cum-manager at the secretariat
  • Reach out to all alumini through web site and personal mails
  • Creation of data base of alumni (year-wise; alphabetical-wise; Geographic location-wise; current occupation-wise); listing their contact information
  • To disseminate information through AANA, IISc-Alumni etc
  • Invitation to alumni with specific purpose and suggestive activity
  • Nodal coordinators in North America, Europe, Australia, South East
  • A dedicated account (not BICS) for donors to contribute to “Centenary Corpus Funds”
  • Info in website; modes of transfers; tax-benefits etc
  • Creation of Photo Gallery (linked to website)
  • A centenary year compendium; three phases: Historical-Contemporary-Futuristic
  • A document on significant discovery-inventions that have impacted/revolutionized the science forward and the human society at large
  • List of Eminent personalities who were alumni
  • Enable and encourage Interest Group specific meetings and workshops at the Feb 2020 and thereafter
  • To have a facilitatory and enabling working subgroups on campus on specific tasks Provide local logistics on campus. Institute accommodation and other logistics support
  • To involve willing alumni-volunteers within IISc Community and across India

The meeting ended with a note of thanks by Prof. P N Rangarajan followed by Lunch.