Hyderabad: Dr Lalji Singh was pioneer of cutting-edge DNA technology

Lalji Singh born in a small village in UP died of heart attack.

Hyderabad: Acclaimed scientist and former director of CCMB (Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology), Hyderabad, Dr Lalji Singh pioneered indigenous DNA fingerprinting technology that has been extensively used in forensic investigations and paternity determination tests across the country for over 17 years now. The technology helped investigation agencies and even courts arrive at scientific conclusions in more than 300 cases, including sensational crimes such as the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi in a suicide attack by LTTE, former Punjab CM Beant Singh in car bomb blast, Naina Sahni Tandoor murder case, Madhumita Shukla murder, Priya-darshini Matoo rape and murder case to name a few. Lalji Singh, 70, who was born in a small village in Uttar Pradesh, died of heart attack in Varanasi late on Sunday night. Friends, colleagues and well-wishers in Hydera-bad, who had known him for last 30 years, recalled his contributions on this occasion.

Dr J. Gowrishankar, a colleague of Mr Lalji at CCMB and a former director of Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA Fingerp-rinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), recalled how DNA profiling by Dr Lalji-led team of CCMB scientists helped in identifying mutilated and disfigured bodies in high-profile cases. “After the bomb blast, the remains of Rajiv Gandhi were scattered all over the place along with a mass of other human bodies, and it was the DNA technology that helped agencies identify the victims.” Dr Lalji was directly in touch with central agencies in forensic investigation,” Dr Gowri-shanker said. Dr Lalji stumbled upon DNA profiling during his studies on sex chromosome in snakes as part of cytogenetics research. He published a series of papers and got a patent in 1988-89. The renowned scientist served as in-charge of the autonomous institution for over four years till 1999. Lalji Singh’s DNA profiling is being widely used in solving paternity and maternity disputes involving children across the country. This highly accurate test helps in determining the biological father or mother of a child.

Apart from the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Dr Lalji was instrumental in founding the Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) in 1998 and the Genome Foundation in 2004, aiming at diagnosing and treating genetic disorders affecting the Indian population, in particular the under-privileged people living in rural India. Areas of his research interest involved molecular basis of sex determination, wildlife conservation, silkworm genome analysis, human genome and study of ancient DNA. In 2004, he received Padma Shri in recognition of his contribution to science and technology in India.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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