January 18, 2020
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Rajesh Gokhale

Chemical Biologist

Rajesh Gokhale
Ask a little boy what he’d like to do when he grows up and chances are he’ll say "a pilot", or better still, "a fighter pilot". But one outgrows that to careers that are equally magical. Rajesh S. Gokhale would agree. He leads a team that walks the tightrope of a multi-disciplinary research programme at the interface of chemistry, biochemistry, molecular and structural biology through genome analysis. At the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, Gokhale’s team has been unravelling the success secrets of the infamous germ that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The TB germ can gestate within the human body for years without causing any infection, and understanding the chemistry of this feature could be a contribution to drug development. This germ is known for its high lipid (fatty molecules) content, and Gokhale’s group has found some unique ones on the germ’s cell wall and "dissected the complex biochemical pathways leading to the assembly of these cell wall lipids". These pathways could become the targets for new drug formulations. For a young man at the cutting edge of multi-disciplinary research, it’s a much headier elixir than anything else in life. "Finding answers to the curious questions of biology that surround us is the reason I am here."

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