Dr Rajesh S. Gokhale, a scientist of the National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi, has been appointed as the new secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India effective from Nov. 1 2021. Biotech Express magazine congratulate Prof Gokhale on this new role and wishes more promotion of Indian Biotech sector through his efforts.
Here are some facts about Dr Gokhale:
Dr Gokhale (born 16/01/1967) did his graduation in B.Sc. Chemistry from Delhi University and M.Sc. in Biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Bombay, Mumbai, India in 1990. He then obtained his PhD from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore in the area of Protein Folding and Stability and Postdoctoral studies in Polyketide Synthases and secondary Metabolite Biosynthesis from Stanford University, USA. He moved back to India to join faculty of National Institute of Immunology (NII), Delhi in the year 1999 as Staff Scientist-IV. He subsequently served as the director of the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology from 2009 to 2016, before returning to the NII in 2017. He also briefly served as the director-in-charge of the NII in 2021, and in September moved on deputation to the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune, as a professor.
Dr Gokhale is recognized in his field for his research work in the area of Chemical Biology. Gokhale is a leading scientist on the study of tuberculosis. He is credited with the discovery of a family of Long-chain Fatty acyl-AMP ligases (FAAL) and his studies assisted in the elucidation of biochemical crosstalk between fatty acid synthases and polyketide synthases in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The present focus of Prof. Rajesh Gokhale’s laboratory is to elucidate interplay between metabolic reprogramming and immunity in the context of infectious disease tuberculosis (TB). Clinical treatment of infectious diseases has often focussed on efficient pathogen elimination and disease severity has been assumed to be a direct function of pathogen burden. This perspective has failed to explain several complexities of TB pathogenesis, such as wasting syndrome cachexia (a condition associated with progressive loss of muscle mass and functions). Infection by pathogens can trigger variety of responses in host that as a consequence could result in multisystem dysfunction and pathology. Future intervention strategies developed based on these considerations are likely to maximize patient’s survival and also their health-related quality of life.
He has also made important contributions towards understanding the interplay between metabolic reprogramming and immunity vis-à-vis the autoimmune skin disorder known as vitiligo.
He has received several awards, including:
Sun Pharma Research Award
IIT Bombay Distinguished Alumnus Award
Infosys Prize in Life Sciences
National Bioscience Award for Career Development
Tata Innovative Fellowships, DBT, India (2007)
Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize in Biological Sciences
Scopus Young Scientist Award, Elsevier India (2006)
Swarnajayanti Fellowships, DST
HHMI International Research Scholar, USA
B.M. Birla Science Prize in Biology
Wellcome Trust International SRF India
Dr Gokhale is member of many professional and academic bodies and societies. He is a Fellow of three major Science Academies of India viz. the Indian National Science Academy, Delhi; the National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad and the India Academy of Sciences, Bangalore.
He also served as a member of the editorial board of some of the prestigious journals like Journal of Biological Chemistry (2014-2017), as section editor of the journal Tuberculosis (2007-2017) and with the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics (2013-present). He was elected to the Guha Research Conference in 2005.
Dr Gokhale as Scientist-Entrepreneur
He started M/s Vyome Bio Sciences Pvt. Ltd. under the Government of India approved policy allowed through an Office Memorandum in 2009, by DSIR, formulating a Scheme for ‘Encouraging Development and Commercialization of Inventions and Innovations. The Scheme was implemented in CSIR, permitting Scientific Researchers to hold equity stakes in scientific enterprises /spin offs while in professional employment with their Research and Academic Institutions and also provided exemptions from some rules applicable to the scientists.
Selected Publications of Dr Gokhale
Ramkumar A, Murthy D, Raja A D, Singh A , Krishnan A, Khanna S, Vats A, Lipi Thukral1, Sharma P, Sivasubbu S, Rani R, Vivek T Natarajan V T and Gokhale RS (2017) Classical autophagy proteins LC3B and ATG4B facilitate melanosome movement on cytoskeletal tracks. Autophagy 13(8):1331-1347.
Anand A, Verma P, Singh AK, Kaushik S, Pandey R, Shi C, Kaur H, Chawla M, Elechalawar CK, Kumar D, Yang Y, Bhavesh NS, Banerjee R, Dash D, Singh A, Natarajan VT, Ojha AK, Aldrich CC, Gokhale RS (2015). Polyketide quinones are alternate intermediate electron carriers during mycobacterial respiration in oxygen-deficient niches. Molecular Cell 60(4):637-50.
Srivastava S, Chaudhary S, Thukral L, Shi C, Gupta RD, Gupta R, Priyadarshan K, Vats A, Haque AS, Sankaranarayanan R, Natarajan VT, Sharma R, Aldrich CC, Gokhale RS. Unsaturated lipid assimilation by mycobacteria requires auxiliary cis-trans enoyl CoA isomerise.Chemistry & Biology 22(12):1577-87.
Vats A, Singh AK, Mukherjee R, Chopra T, Ravindran MS, Mohanty D, Chatterji D, Reyrat JM, Gokhale RS (2012) Retrobiosynthetic approach delineates the biosynthetic pathway and the structure of the acyl chain of mycobacterial glycopeptidolipids. J BiolChem.287(36):30677-30687.
Arora P, Goyal A, Natarajan VT, Rajakumara E, Verma P, Gupta R, Yousuf M, Trivedi OA, Mohanty D, Tyagi A, Sankaranarayanan R* and Gokhale RS* (2009) Mechanistic and functional insights into fatty acid activation in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Nat. Chem. Biol. 5(3):166-73 (*Co-corresponding authors).
Gokhale RS, Saxena P, Chopra T, Mohanty D. (2007) Versatilepolyketide enzymatic machinery for the biosynthesis of complex mycobacterial lipids. Nat Prod Rep. 24(2):267-277.
Trivedi OA, Arora P, Sridharan V, Tickoo R, Mohanty D, Gokhale RS. (2004): Enzymic activation and transfer of fatty acids as acyl-adenylates in mycobacteria. Nature 428 (441-445).
Gokhale RS, Tsuji S, Cane DE, Khosla C. (1999) Dissecting and Exploiting Intermodular Communication in Polyketide Synthases. Science 284, 482-487.