Manoj Kumar is the Founder of Social Alpha, a multistage innovation curation and venture development platform for science and technology start-ups that aim to solve the most critical social, economic and environmental challenges. Social Alpha focuses on “lab to market” enablement and supports mission driven entrepreneurs through a network of innovation labs, venture incubators, accelerator programmes, seed funds and market access support. Since its inception in 2016, Social Alpha has nurtured more than 150 start-ups, including 40+ investments.
Manoj is the Founding Trustee of TIGS and a Senior Advisor to Tata Trusts, leading Tata Trusts’ engagements with universities and institutions globally.
Prior to founding Social Alpha, Manoj has been an entrepreneur as well as an early stage venture investor. Manoj serves on the boards of a number of companies, non-profits and research institutions.
Manoj is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and lives in Bangalore, India.
Rakesh Mishra is the Director of TIGS, India. He received his PhD from the University of Allahabad, India, in 1986. He did post-doctoral research at the Indian Institute of Science, India; University of Bordeaux, France; Saint Louis University, USA; and University of Geneva, Switzerland. He then joined the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, India, and became Director in 2016. His research interest are comparative genomics of non-coding DNA in the context of evolution of complexity, genetic basis of anterior-posterior body axis formation in animals and role of epigenetic regulation in development. Under his leadership, the Atal Incubation Centre was established at CCMB, which provides life science entrepreneurs the infrastructure and mentorship needed to encourage innovation. CCMB has also played a key role in genomic surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rakesh is an elected fellow of the major science academies in India and a recipient of several honours and awards, including the JC Bose National Fellowship.
Chief Financial Officer & Company Secretary
Karthik heads the Finance function at TIGS and brings to the table a rich experience gained across various capacities and positions of responsibility. He has been part of sectors ranging from manufacturing, petrochemicals, aviation and the social sector, among other industries. He last served as the Financial Controller at an organisation engaged in the business of aviation fuels. He has been associated with conglomerates and organizations emphasizing on ethics and Social Responsibility, including the Tata group. Karthik Krishnan ACA, ACS, ACMA, CGMA is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India [ICAI], Institute of Company Secretaries of India [ICSI] and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants [CIMA, UK].
Shaibal Dasgupta earned his PhD from Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya (BCKVV), West Bengal, India, and did post-doctoral research at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India. He has been involved in the research and development of new genetic technologies and in stakeholder engagement for around 30 years. During his 20-year tenure at Sungro Seeds Pvt Ltd, he led the overall regulatory planning and research & development initiatives of the transgenic research program of the company. Prior to joining TIGS, he was the Project and Regulatory Lead at Gangabishan Bhikulal Investment and Trading Limited (GBIT), a company that specializes in developing novel technologies in health and agriculture and was the first to conduct contained field trials with transgenic mosquitoes in India. As a Group Leader for Field Applications at TIGS, he works with various stakeholders in exploring the potential applications of technologies developed at TIGS.
Venkata Sresty Tavva
Venkata Sresty Tavva received his PhD in Botany from Andhra University, India. He did post-doctoral research at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India, and the Departments of Agronomy and Entomology at the University of Kentucky, USA. He has over 18 years of research experience working in various areas of plant biotechnology, including the development of a two-hybrid gene regulation system for plants at the University of Kentucky, USA, metabolic engineering of oil seeds to produce biopolymers at Metabolix Inc, Boston, USA, and building competency in CRISPR technology for targeted genome modification in crop plants at DuPont-Pioneer, India. Prior to joining TIGS, he was a Group Leader at DuPont-Pioneer leading a team of scientists and research associates, developing strategies and creating genome-edited lines with improved agronomic traits. Sresty currently leads TIGS’ efforts in creating plant varieties, particularly rice, that have increased agricultural output and are resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Anirudha Lakshminarasimhan leads a team of researchers at TIGS in engineering antibody fragments against Plasmodium antigens, with the objective of demonstrating improved Plasmodium transmission blockage property in mosquitoes. Anirudha has over 11 years of experience in the biotech industry working for a drug discovery subsidiary of Dr. Reddy’s, where he led a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the crystallization of over 100 proteins, enabling structure guided drug design and working towards the discovery of lead molecules for different therapeutic indications. During his PhD at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India, he aimed to understand the mechanism of action of a signal transducer in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Arunachalam Ramaiah received his PhD in Bioinformatics jointly from the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, India, and Abo Akademi University, Finland. Before joining TIGS, he worked on various microbial pathogens, allergens and arthropod vectors at the Indian Institute of Science, India, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, Stanford University School of Medicine, USA, and the University of California, Irvine, USA. He is a recipient of the prestigious ‘ISID New Investigator Award – 2016’ from the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), USA. He is a fellow of the Centre for International Mobility, Finland and the Association of Public Health Laboratories, USA, and a life member of ISID and American Society for Rickettsiology. He is one of the two leads, who have assembled and annotated a ground-breaking new reference genome for the Asian Malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi and discovered thousands of new gold-standard genes vital for targeting pathogen transmission and immunity. His current research focuses on studying the genome of various mosquitoes and the nature of interactions of these arthropods with their bacterial endosymbionts. His investigation provides new avenues for the control of arthropod vectors in India and around the world.
Sonia Sen completed her PhD in developmental neurobiology from the National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India. She did her post-doctoral work at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, Switzerland, Station Biologique de Roscoff, France, and the University of Oregon, USA. Sonia’s research interests have been in the development and evolution of the brain. During her PhD, she studied the molecular genetics of olfactory system development in the fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, and in her post-doctoral work she studied how neural stem cells integrate spatial and temporal information to generate diverse neural types. Her group at TIGS works towards understanding the spatial cues that initially diversify and then maintain neural stem cell identities to therefore control neural circuits in the brain. With this understanding, Sonia’s group aims to reverse engineer specific neurons of choice – an as yet un-achieved goal that has held back neural stem cell therapies from realizing their full potential.
Farah Ishtiaq is an evolutionary ecologist interested in the ecology and evolution of emerging vector-borne diseases. Her experience in research and conservation is based on 17 years of involvement in various projects around the world. After completing her PhD from Aligarh Muslim University, India, she took up post-doctoral positions in the Smithsonian Institute, USA; the Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford, UK and the Global Health Program of Wildlife Conservation Society, USA. Prior to joining TIGS she was working as a Wellcome Trust/DBT Intermediate Fellow at the Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, India. She has been working on the epidemiology of avian malaria and the spread of the disease in high-altitude malaria-free zones. At TIGS, her expertise in the population genetics of vector species will be extended to mosquitoes that cause diseases in humans.
Sunita Swain obtained her PhD from the Regional Medical Research Center, Orissa, in 2012 and went on to work at the Institute of Life Sciences, Orissa, India, as a DBT-Research Associate. She then worked at the International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR), Rourkela, India, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania State University, USA, as a post-doctoral research scientist. Her research focused on the transmission of complex malaria in India, its epidemiology, transmission, and pathogenesis and explored the vectorial capacity of local mosquitoes and the influence of environmental factors. Sunita currently oversees the operations of the insectary at TIGS.
Sampath Kumar Shankaranarayana
Sampath Kumar completed his PhD and post-doctoral research from Bangalore University, Bangalore, India. During his PhD, he studied the influence of temperature, age, nutrition and mating on endosymbiont-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility. He has worked on projects, funded by UGC and Vector Science Forum, ICMR, which were focused on understanding the biology of Wolbachia and its interactions with insect hosts. Sampath specialises in the bio-manipulation of major mosquito vectors (Aedes, Anopheles and Culex) through embryonic and adult microinjection. At TIGS, he is involved in the research that uses novel approaches to make Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes refractory to plasmodium/virus transmission.
Pankaj Gupta obtained his PhD in Biotechnology from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India in 2007. He completed postdoctoral fellowships at the National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, India, and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, India. His research focused on the characterization of therapeutic proteins and vaccines and he also worked towards transferring the technology to industry. Prior to joining TIGS, he was a Program Manager (Grants) in the Research and Development office of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, India, where he managed projects for various institutional programs of the Bangalore Life Sciences Cluster (BLiSc). He has also worked at the Biotech Consortium India Limited, New Delhi, India, as a Project Officer for the DBT-funded North Eastern Region Biotechnology Program Management Cell. At TIGS, he manages projects in close coordination with research groups and stakeholders.
Ann Vinod has around eight years of experience working in various aspects of content management and publishing. Prior to joining TIGS, she worked as a Business Development Manager at Notion Press, a book publishing company in Chennai, India, developing media content for customer engagements, streamlining business processes and ideating solutions for publishing books. Ann currently coordinates the communications activities of TIGS.