T.R. Govindachari – Organic chemist

T.R. Govindachari

CHENNAI, DEC.31 Prof. T.R. Govindachari, who died recently in Chennai, was an outstanding organic chemist and a multi-faceted personality. Born in Chennai in 1915, he completed his B.Sc degree in the Presidency College here. He worked under Prof. B.B. Dey for his M.Sc. and Ph.D degrees.

Popularly known as TRG, he went to the University of Illinois, U.S., for his post-doctoral fellowship, working under Prof. Roger Adams as a Government of Madras scholar.

Returning to India in 1949, he joined the Presidency College as an Additional Professor of Chemistry. He became Chief Professor in 1952 and Principal of the college in 1961. During these years, he built an active group of research scholars and carried out pioneering work in natural products chemistry focussing on Indian medicinal plants.

In 1963, TRG was invited to become the first Director of the newly-established CIBA research centre in Bombay. During his tenure, the centre screened more than 10,000 new compounds and plant extracts. Twenty compounds were taken for clinical trials and marketing approvals were obtained for five drugs.

After his retirement in 1975, TRG was invited to be a consultant to the CLRI, Madras. He established an R&D centre for Amrutanjan, a Madras-based pharma company. Thereafter, he joined the SPIC Science Foundation with which he was closely associated till late in 2000. His team’s work at the foundation resulted in the isolation and structure assignment of several members of the azadirachtin family.

His national recognitions include the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award for Chemical Sciences 1960, the INSA award, the Megnad Saha Medal 1975, the Golden Jubilee Commemoration Medal and Life Time Achievement Award of the Chemical Research Society of India for the year 2000.

TRG’s research career, spanning over six decades, was fruitful as evidenced by his publications numbering around 330.

A keen orchid grower, his other interests included a deep appreciation of Carnatic music and temple architecture.

Ref:  The Hindu

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