Ganesan Pugalenthi wins BIRD Award 2011

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Ganesan Pugalenthi. Photograph by Yada Madhav Rao.

NCBS alumni Ganesan Pugalenthi is getting plaudits for his work on bioinformatics algorithms, softwares and tools. He won the 2011 Bioclues Innovation, Research and Development (BIRD) Award, which is given every year for outstanding contributions in the field of functional genomics and bioinformatics by Bioclues, a non-profit virtual organisation "for, by and of" Indian bioinformaticians. The award ceremony was held on 23rd December 2011 at the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad.

Pugalenthi helped develop tools to analyse protein sequences, structures and next generation sequencing data (data obtained faster than the typical Sanger-based sequence reactions, using the latest techniques and protocols in sequencing) in the field of bioinformatics. The tools include DIAL (identifies protein structural domains), SMotif (identifies structural signatures in protein structures), SPRED (predicts classical and non-classical secretory proteins in mammalian genomes) and SCANMOT (helps identify distantly-related proteins).

These tools simplify a scientist's life. While large datasets are now becoming common, "extraction and interpretation of meaningful information embedded in the biological dataset is a challenging task," says Pugalenthi. And he has helped tackle this challenge: the bioinformatics tools he helped develop are widely used today.

The work was part of his doctoral project at NCBS, which Pugalenthi completed with the guidance of R. Sowdhamini. Apart from the software that he helped develop, his doctoral work also focused on reducing the gaps in knowledge that exist in the structure of protein sequences.

"It is a great honor for me," says Pugalenthi, about receiving the award. "I would like to thank the Bioclues organization and its selection committee. I express my sincere thanks to my guide and nominator Dr. R. Sowdhamini. I would also like to thank NCBS for providing research infrastructural support."

Pugalenthi is currently a research scientist working at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


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