Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2024

© Asian Media Group - 2024


Prof Sir Shankar Balasubramanian


DURING a lecture last year, British Indian chemist Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramani an urged policymakers to continue funding academic research to push the boundaries of science. “Unless we strongly fund basic science, in novation is dead a few years down the line… I don’t think this is fully understood by some of the decision-makers. Everything we have achieved would not have happened if we didn’t get the basic science funding at the beginning,” he said. He spoke about his own experience translat ing his DNA replication research into a cutting edge sequencing technology, which has been used to study the genetic origins of disease and track emerging virus strains during the Covid pandemic. He is currently the Herschel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Cambridge and co-invented Solexa sequencing, a technology that was acquired by biotechnology giant Illumina for £600 million in 2007 and that continues to underpin large research initiatives such as the International Cancer Genome Project. “I started my independent academic career in 1994 in the University of Cambridge and have remained there ever since.

I currently hold a joint appointment between the Clinical School and Department of Chemistry. I direct research laboratories in the Department of Chemistry and the CRUK Cambridge Institute at the Addenbrookes Biomedical Campus,” he says about his role. He was awarded the GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Science in 2022 for his contribution to the world of science. Born in Madras (now Chennai), India in 1966, Sir Shankar relocated to the UK with his parents in 1967. He spent his formative years in a rural area near Runcorn, Cheshire, receiving education at Daresbury Primary School and Appleton Hall High School. Married to Veena Krishnan, a general practitioner, they are parents to two children, Sachin and Sashi. He pursued undergraduate studies in

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