The chief scientist of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Dr. Manjula Reddy won the Infosys Prize for Life Sciences for a ground-breaking study that provides a unique insight into the process of the structure and synthesis of the bacterial cell wall which is fundamental to the growth and division of cells of bacteria which help in understanding the role of antibiotics.
The award contains a gold medal, a citation and a sum of Rs. 70.95 lakhs.
Bacteria can grow and divide once every 20 minutes in a resource-rich environment and to achieve this, they have to rapidly build their cell walls to make two cells from one.
It was for a long time that scientists believed that the cell wall needs to be broken in a controlled manner to allow a new cell wall to be built. Knowledge of what makes this possible has remained elusive.
It was Dr. Reddy’s team who became the first one to identify the enzymes that carry out controlled cleavage of the cell walls. Her work led to an understanding of the mechanisms that regulate this fundamental step.
Dr. Reddy’s work has opened up an avenue for targeting the initial steps of cell wall synthesis, the citation said.