August 19, 2003 

Inspiration for the day

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Dr. Ajith Varkey, Director, Glycobiology Research and Training Centre, University of California, San Diego, USA

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Though they are 98.4% similar to human beings in DNA structure, there is vast difference in potential between chimpanzees and men.  Could it be the absence of a gene in man that accounts for the difference?  Dr. Ajith Varkey, Director of Glycobiology Research and Training Centre at University of California, San Diego and his team think so.

His research findings, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, have received wide coverage in science publications and other media. 

His chosen field of work is Glycobiology, which is the study of the sugar coating that covers the living cells.  While other animals have the cyalic acid in their cells man alone is the exception.  It means that man somehow ‘lost’ this gene about 3 million years ago, when the human brain was about to undergo development.  And so the researchers have correlated the loss of gene and the subsequent brain development of the human species.

After graduating from the Christian Medical College, Velloor, Dr.Varkey worked for sometime as resident medical officer at Malankara Mission Hospital, Kolencherry before going abroad to the US to pursue higher studies.  After obtaining post graduation from the Washington University, he has been with the California University.

In appreciation of the uniqueness of his research work, many honours have come his way.  Recently, this 50-year-old professor of medicine won awards from National Institute of Health and the American Cancer Society.  He had earlier been the president of Society for Glycobiology as well as American Society for Clinical Investigation. During 1992-96 he was the chief editor of Journal of Clinical Investigation.

His batch-mate from Vellore, Nissi is his wife.  They have a daughter, Sara.




Courtesy: Joseph Antony, Mathrubhumi, January 5, 2003

Contributed by: Administrator


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