Manoj Kumar is a trustee of the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society and serves on the advisory and governing boards of a number of companies, non-profits and research institutions. He is the Founder and Chairman of Social Alpha, an initiative to strengthen the science and technology start-up ecosystem in India with a focus on “lab to market” enablement. Since its inception in 2016, Social Alpha has incubated and nurtured more than 50 mission driven start-ups, making 30 seed investments and 2 exits. Manoj Kumar is also a senior advisor at Tata Trusts, where he is responsible for managing the innovation portfolio, promoting entrepreneurship and managing the academic/R&D relationships globally. Manoj Kumar also manages the India Health Fund, which is seeded by Tata Trusts. Prior to founding Social Alpha, Manoj Kumar has been an entrepreneur as well as an early stage investor in a number of enterprise software start-ups and social innovation experiments. Manoj Kumar has also worked for over two decades in investment banking and financial technology firms, including global leadership roles in the areas of Corporate Strategy, M&A, Product Management and R&D. Manoj Kumar is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and lives in Bangalore, India.
Suresh Subramani received his PhD from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, USA. He joined the faculty at UC San Diego in 1982, after completion of post-doctoral work in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate, Paul Berg, at Stanford University (1979-81). He is the recipient of many honors and awards and has been involved in many leadership roles in academia and in the biotechnology industry. His service to UC includes his role as the Executive Vice Chancellor (2010-16), Assoc. Vice Chancellor (2009-10), Interim Dean (2006-07) and Chair (1999-2000). He is currently a Distinguished Professor (Emeritus), the Global Director of the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society and holds a Collaborative Science Chair at inStem.
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.
Baskar Bakthavachalu completed his PhD from the National Center for Cell Science, Pune, India, in 2010 and post-doctoral research from Ohio State University, USA, in 2013. He was a campus fellow at the National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, studying RNA granules and their role in neuronal function and neurodegeneration using Drosophila as a model organism.
His team at TIGS-CI studies flaviviral infections in Aedes mosquitoes with a focus on dengue, Zika and West Nile viral diseases. They use novel approaches to block flaviviral replication in mosquitoes as a strategy to prevent vector-borne infections. His group is also developing novel strategies to selectively eliminate infected mosquito vectors.
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.
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.