Prof. Sudha Bhattacharya is INSA Senior Scientist at Ashoka University. She was formerly Professor of molecular biology at the School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her area of interest is gene expression and genome organization. Her lab made seminal contributions to understanding the genomic organization of the human parasite Entamoeba histolytica.
Prof. Bhattacharya did her undergraduate studies in Botany from University of Delhi, and Master’s and Ph.D. from the Dept. of Biochemistry at Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. After postdoctoral training at Stanford University, and Boston Biomedical Research Institute USA, she returned to India and decided to work on the human parasite Entamoeba histolytica, to understand genome organization in this early-branching protozoan. Being a first of-its-kind study in India, she had to move back to the National Institutes of Health, USA for a short stint to learn axenic cultivation of E. histolytica. From 1986 she set up the Entamoeba lab in JNU, which marked the beginning of molecular parasitology in India.
Some of her contributions to Entamoeba biology include discovery of extrachromosomal circular ribosomal RNA genes, and retrotransposable elements in E. histolytica. Her group showed that retrotransposition is accompanied by high frequency recombination in retrotransposed copies to generate sequence diversity. E. histolytica cells harbour antisense RNA transcripts specific to the reverse transcriptase, ostensibly as a mechanism to dampen retrotransposition.
Prof. Bhattacharya is a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru; Indian National Science Aademy, New Delhi; and National Academy of Sciences, Allahbad. She was a recipient of J.C.Bose National Fellowship. She has served in various committees of Govt. of India, and the Science Academies. During her tenure as Dean, SES, JNU she had the fortune to discover and honour Jadav Payeng, a tribal from Assam, who single-handedly created a forest on a barren sandbar in Majouli.
Currently, Prof. Bhattacharya is co-founder and Trustee of World Without GNE Myopathy, a non-profit organization set up to promote research towards understanding and treating rare genetic disorders in India.