Dr. Shantanu Chowdhury was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award 2012 in Biological Sciences for his contribution in unraveling a novel gene regulation mechanism mediated by unusual DNA conformations.
His pioneering research work suggested widespread gene regulation by guanine rich DNA motifs called G‑quadruplexes in bacteria proposing a global regulatory repertoire of this motif. This work, which featured as a cover citation in Genome Research (2006), was further supported by evidences of G‑quadruplex mediated regulation in humans and its conservation in related species like rat, mouse and chimpanzee further strengthened their importance. In their quest for understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms, Dr. Chowdhury and his group found that the unusual DNA structure in conjunction with a protein NME2 regulates gene expression of oncogenes like cMyc. Interestingly, this line of research led Dr. Chowdhury and his group to the novel finding that NME2 localizes at telomere ends and regulates telomerase function suggesting a connection between metastases suppressor activity of NME2 and telomere biology. For continuing this research, Dr. Chowdhury was awarded the Wellcome-Trust-DBT Alliance Senior Research fellowship.
Dr. Chowdhury’s contributions towards understanding of G‑quadruplex regulatory biology also include observations that G‑quadruplex motifs exclude nucleosome positioning and adversely affect the DNA methylation patterns. His work on single nucleotide polymorphisms within G‑quadruplex further showed that these regulate gene expression variation at a population level thereby opening up newer research avenues.
Research from Dr. Chowdhury’s group has been well-received nationally and internationally as is evident from the large number of citations in several high impact journals. His work has been in focus in Chemical and Engineering News in 2007 and 2009 for its potential as future drug targets.
Dr. Shantanu Chowdhury is a scientist at CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) and more details are available at http://igib.res.in/?q=ShantanuChowdhury.