An Indian-origin British professor of chemistry and DNA expert at Cambridge University Shankar Balasubramanian, 50, has recently received Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

The Chennai born British professor was recognised for his work as a co-inventor of Next Generation DNA sequencing (also known as Solexa sequencing), described as the most transformational advance in biology and medicine for decades.  At present, he is Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry the University of Cambridge. More recently, he has made major contributions to understanding the role of DNA-quadruplexes in cancer and invented a method for the sequencing of epigenetic modifications.

“Solexa sequencing, as it is now known, allows an individual genome to be sequenced in a day or two at a cost of less than 1,000 pounds; previously, sequencing the human genome took years of work and cost billions. His work has spawned an entirely new discipline of Bioinformatics… More recently, he has made major contributions to understanding the role of DNA-quadruplexes in cancer and invented a method for the sequencing of epigenetic modifications “, his citation reads.

Dr. Shankar Balasubramanian had received PhD for research on the Reaction mechanism of the enzyme Chorismate synthase from University of Cambridge. He is recognised for his contributions in the field of nucleic acids. He is scientific founder of Solexa and Cambridge Epigenetix.

Knighthood is one of the highest honours bestowed upon an individual in the UK and it doesn’t carry any military obligations to the sovereign. Persons receiving it are entitled with title ‘Sir’ before their name. The knighthoods are conferred by the Queen or a member of the Royal Family acting on her behalf in Britain. Queen usually presents insignia at the ceremony.  In total around 1,200 people have received an award with 75% of the recipients people have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity.

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