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Scientist who mapped first Indian genome remembers Pune connection

Jay Shendure,assistant professor in the department of genome sciences at the University of Washington,who led the team of scientists that successfully mapped the first Indian genome had “exposure to medicine in India” in Pune when he was here on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1996-97.

Written by SiddharthKelkar | Pune |
January 4, 2011 4:40:47 am

Jay Shendure,assistant professor in the department of genome sciences at the University of Washington,who led the team of scientists that successfully mapped the first Indian genome (genetic code),had “exposure to medicine in India” in Pune when he was here on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1996-97.

His research published in the recent online edition of Nature Biotechnology will be useful in designing large-scale studies better suited for Indian population.

Shendure’s research ‘Haplotype-resolved genome sequencing of a Gujarati Indian individual’ is said to be useful to treat and diagnose hereditary diseases in Indians in a better way as their genomes can be mapped.

Shendure remembers his early days when he was in Pune to do research at Sassoon Hospital in 1996-97. Former Vice-Chancellor of Maharashtra Medical Science University Dr Mrudula Phadke was his guide.

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Shendure is born and brought up in the US. “Both my parents attended University of Pune and did their engineering in 1960s before coming to US,” he says in an e-mail reply to The Indian Express. “My maternal grandparents were in Pune for many decades and my uncles and other family members from my mother’s side still live in Pune,” he says.

When I was in Pune my project was focused on developing diagnostic assays for tuberculosis meningitis in children.

This topic is not very related to the work that we just published on,but we do have genomic projects in the lab that bear on microbial resistance to antibiotics and other topics that are related to the work that I did in India,” he says.

“It was a great research experience that gave me some exposure to medicine in India. When I returned to the US,I completed my MD and PhD from Harvard Medical School,” says Shendure.

He remembers the city very fondly. “It was just a wonderful experience to live in Pune for one year. I made many close friends whom I am still in touch with. It was also a chance to spend more time with my family. The city was changing so quickly at that time – it is funny to think back on the fact that Internet had just become available in Pune,and I managed to get one of the last connections before it was oversubscribed,” he reminisces.

Jay’s guide Phadke remembers him as a very bright student. “His research is very useful,especially for Indians. I feel proud that I could guide such a wonderful student,” she said.

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