Biotecnology - 1998

Dr. (Mrs.) Manju Sharma

Dr. (Mrs.) Manju Sharma, presently Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, has had a brilliant academic career. She was trained as a Plant Scientist, and received the Birbal Sahni Memorial Gold Medal of Lucknow University.

Her well known work on the detailed ontogeny, develop­ment and distribution of sclereids in organs other than leaves, like stem and floral parts, brought out, for the first time, the taxonomic and phylo-genetic significance of sclereids. Her postdoctoral research, at Purdue University , USA with Prof A.C. Leopold, on latex bearing plants led to the understanding that etheral can stimulate the yield of latex and rubber by 100%, this found direct commercial applica­tion in rubber plantations in Malaysia . She has carried out extensive work on plant idioblasts and established a correlation between silicon content and the hardness of wood, a character used as an indicator of quality of wood. She
co-authored a monograph entitled "Indian Medicinal Plants", an ICMR publication.

For the past quarter of a century, Dr. Manju Sharma has worked in various capacities in the Government of India: in the Department of Science and Technology, Planning Com­mission, Office of the Scientific Adviser to the PM, and Department of Biotechnology. She has played an outstand­ing role in promoting science and technology in general and biosciences in particular. She has initiated many successful scientific programmes, been concerned with major techni­cal and planning reports, been responsible in an important way in setting up of new institutions, and in the promotion of advanced research as well as ensuring applications of direct benefit to society. In all of this she has displayed vision and outstanding organizational skills. Dr. Manju Sharma is a fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences and of The National Academy of Sciences, India of which she was President during 1995-96. She was President of the Indian Science Congress Association in 1998-99, and organized an outstanding programme covering recent advances in bio-sciences and their applications, in the session at Chennai in January 1999.

She has received a large number of awards, including the Borlaug and Vasvik Awards and Honorary Doctorates in Science.

The Shri Om Prakash Bhasin Award in the field of Biotech­nology is given to Dr. (Mrs.) Manju Sharma for her wide ranging contributions to the promotion and support of Biosciences in India, the impact of which will be important, relevant and of a lasting nature, and in the process orchestrating the coming together in the country of a coherent, vibrant community of life scientists.