Har Gobind Khorana Lecture Series

PSCST and Institute of Nano Science & Technology has jointly instituted Hargobind Khorana Lecture Series as a tribute to Nobel Laureate Prof. Khorana, the world acclaimed Bio-scientist of Indian origin.  The series is proposed to be organized every year under which a Nobel Laureate or an eminent scientist of similar stature would be invited to deliver a lecture.  The objective is to invigorate science students and teachers of the State and help them gain deeper insights into realms of science by providing an opportunity to learn about path-breaking endeavors of Prof. Hargobind Khorana as well as other internationally renowned scientists of Indian origin.   

Prof. Khorana born in Raipur, in the Punjab region of undivided India did his schooling from D. A. V. High School in Multan and Masters from Punjab University, Lahore.  Subsequently, a fellowship awarded by Government of India enabled him to study at Liverpool University, England, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1948.  

Prof. Khorana, a recipient of the 1968 Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine, devoted much of his scientific career to unravelling the genetic code and mechanism through which nucleic acids give rise to proteins. He was the first scientist to chemically synthesize oligonucleotides. His work opened up new paradigm of research in biology which led to interpretation of genetic code & protein synthesis and beginning of the era of molecular biology. He was conferred with Padma Vibhushan in 1969. Dr. Khorana, a strong pillar of research ethics, took immense interest in mentoring young scientists. His work has been a source of inspiration for scientific fraternity.

First HGK Lecture Series

In the year 2015-16, the first HGK Lecture Series was organized on 5th January, 2016 at Panjab University, Chandigarh. The inaugural HGK Lecture was delivered by Nobel Laureate Prof. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan FRS, an Indian born structural biologist and physicist. Prof. Ramakrishnan, who is also President Royal Society, is currently working at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge. In his talk titled ‘Nobody’s world: Evidence and Modern Science’, he exhorted that science is fact based and to enable the students to comprehend with ease, he explained it through several interesting examples. He emphasized on the need for inculcation of scientific temper for development of science based society.  Thereafter, the students & scientific fraternity interacted with the Nobel Laureate. More than 1000 science students & teachers from Punjab & adjoining states participated in the program. This being the lifetime opportunity for students, to ensure wider outreach, the lecture was also streamed live through National Knowledge Network.

Prof. V. Ramakrishnan, born in Chidambaram, Tamil He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry along with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath in 2009, for his studies on the structure of ribosome.  He was conferred with Padma Vibhushan in 2010. He was also knighted in 2012. 

Professor Ramakrishnan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics from MS University, Baroda, Gujarat. After receiving his doctorate in Physics from Ohio University, he made a transition from theoretical physics to biology and studied the structure and function of rhodopsin at University of California, San Diego. Thereafter, during his post-doctoral work at Yale University, he investigated the structure of ribosome in the bacterium Escherichia coli through neutron scattering. He also used X-ray crystallography to elucidate structure of ribosomes at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. Currently, he is President of the prestigious Royal Society and a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Alongside this role, Professor Ramakrishnan also works at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge.

 

Second Har Gobind Khorana lecture

The second Har Gobind Khorana lecture was delivered by World Food Laureate Padma Shri, Prof. G.S. Khush, FRS on 27th March, 2017 at Indian Institute of Science Education & Research, Knowledge City, Mohali. Prof. G.S. Khush, known as a father of green revolution in rice, spoke on “Food Security Challenges in India and Opportunities”.  More than 600 science students & teachers from Punjab & adjoining states participated in the program.  

Dr. Khush was born at Roorkee, Punjab, India. He received B.Sc. degree from Punjab Agricultural University in 1955 & Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of California, Davis. After serving as a faculty member of the University of California for 7 years, he joined International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines as Plant Breeder and was appointed a Head of Plant Breeding Department in 1972.

He retired in April 2002 as Principal Plant Breeder and Head of Division of Plant Breeding Genetics and Biochemistry. During his 35 year career at IRRI he spearheaded the program for developing high yielding and disease & insect resistant varieties of rice which ushered in green revolution in rice farming. More than 300 rice varieties developed under his leadership have been released in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Rice production increased from 257 million tons in 1966 to 718 million tons in 2016. Most of the major rice growing countries became self- sufficient in rice production and several have exportable surplus. Thus he is known as a father of green revolution in rice.

Dr. Cantrell, Director General of IRRI summed up Dr. Khush's contributions by saying, "while his name may have passed the lips of many, his life's work has passed the lips of almost half the mankind". 

Dr Khush has written 3 books, edited 6 books and has published 250 papers in scientific journals. For his contributions to world food security, Dr. Khush received Japan Prize in 1987, World Food Prize in 1996, Rank Prize in 1998, Wolf Prize in Agriculture in 2000, Padma Shri Award in 2000 from President of India, Golden Sickle Award in 2007 from Thailand and Mahathir Science Award in 2009 from Malaysian Government. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from fifteen universities. Dr. Khush was elected to the Indian National Science Academy, Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academy of Sciences for Developing World, U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Royal Society of London.

 

Prof. Arun Grover, Vice-chancellor, Panjab University; Prof. Ashok Ganguli, Director, INST and Dr. Jatinder Kaur Arora, Executive Director, PSCST also addressed the participants on this occasion.

  

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