Structural and computational biologist and Director of the Punebased National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Dr. Shekhar C. Mande has been appointed as the Director-General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Research (DSIR). One of India’s leading experts in DNA fingerprinting and diagnostics, Dr. Mande assumed the charge on 16 October 2018.
As Director of the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), an autonomous Institute of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Dr. Shekhar Mande oversaw the launch of the Indian Human Microbiome Initiative in the Northeast. The project aims to sample 20,000 ethnically diverse Indians from the region for their bodily bacteria from stool, skin, and saliva. This data will provide insight into the varying bacterial colonies in human bodies according to ethnicity and lifestyle. Apart from understanding health and disease in the population, the bacterial samples will also be useful for potentially extracting new drugs to treat illnesses.
His laboratory at NCCS has been involved in research on the structural characterisation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis proteins and the computational analysis of genome-wide protein: protein interactions.
Dr. Shekhar Mande did his M.Sc. in Physics from University of Nagpur and holds a doctoral degree in Molecular Biophysics from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru. Following his PhD, he joined Prof. Wim G. J. Hol as Post Doctoral Fellow at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in the Netherlands in 1991 and in 1992 joined as a senior fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA.
On his return to India, Dr. Shekhar Mande joined the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, as a scientist and in 2001 was selected as a Staff Scientist at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad. In 2011, Dr Mande was appointed as the Director of NCCS, Pune. Dr. Mande has served in various advisory committees for the Government of India.
In 2005, he was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology – the most prestigious science award in India – in the category of Biological Sciences. He has been honoured with several other prestigious awards including the B M Birla Young Scientist Award in 1999, and Wellcome Trust International Senior Fellow 2003-08. He has been elected Fellow of all the three major science academies in the country – the Indian National Science Academy (INSA), National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), and the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS). He is also Life member of the Indian Crystallographic Association, the Indian Science Congress Association and the Indian Biophysical Society. Dr. Mande is also credited with the BC Guha Memorial Lecture of the Indian National Science Academy, 2017 and the BK Bachhawat Memorial Lecture of the National Academy of Sciences, India, 2017.