|Dronamraju Krishna Rao|
January 14, 1937
Pithapuram, Andhra Pradesh, India
History of Science
US-India cooperation in Science & Technology
Indian Statistical Institute , India
University College, London
Johns Hopkins University Medical School , USA
University of Alberta , Canada
|Doctoral advisor||J. B. S. Haldane|
National Reserve Service Award (NRSA) , U.S. National Institutes of
Health , Washington D.C.
*Yellapraggada Subba Rao Memorial Award, India
*Nayudamma Award in Technology , India
Dronamraju Krishna Rao Ph.D (born January 14, 1937) is an Indian born Geneticist and currently President of Foundation for Genetic Research, Houston, USA. He was born in Pithapuram, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. He is the leading world expert on the research of the famous scientist and his late mentor, J.B.S. Haldane. He aims at promoting close cooperation between the USA and India in Science & Technology. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Dronamraju Krishna Rao was born on 14 January 1937, in Pithapuram, (Pithapuram is an old historic city which has been famous for several centuries for Telugu poetry, literature, and scholarship) Andhra Pradesh. Since childhood, Dronamraju has always been interested in observing nature, especially butterflies, birds and earthworms, which created an early interest in biology. He went to M.R. College in Vizianagaram, Andhra University to study Botany and attained his bachelor's degree in 1955. He went on to get a master's degree from Agra University in 1957 where he studied Plant Breeding & Genetics.
When in 1957, the famous scientist Prof. J.B.S. Haldane moved to India, it gave him an opportunity to pursue biological and genetic research. After finishing M.Sc. he wrote to J.B.S Haldane for an opportunity to pursue research career under his direction at the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta. Haldane tested his knowledge in genetics and was happy to offer him a Research Scholarship at the Indian Statistical Institute.
Early in his research career, he discovered the first case of a gene on the human Y chromosome and published a paper in 1960, which made him famous. It was also part of his Ph.D. thesis at the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta.
Dronamraju research with J.B.S Haldane at the Indian Statistical Institute included many areas. Dronamraju contribution to the mechanisms of Speciation in plants and plant-pollinator interaction, and also the pollinating behavior of butterflies is considered quite significant.
His research papers on the visits of several species of lepidoptera to different colored flowers of Lantana camara reported the discovery of a species-specific pattern of color preference behavior by pollinating insects. This indicated the possibility that reproductive isolating mechanisms in plants could result from the behavior of pollinators, leading to sympatric speciation which was considered unlikely by some leading experts such as Ernst Mayr until then. This papers created a sensation among biologists.
His research (and that of L.D. Sanghvi at the Tata Cancer Center in Mumbai) in human genetics in India laid the foundations of that field which later led to the founding of the Indian Society of Human Genetics.
In 1966, Dronamraju completed his Ph.D from the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta. He studied under J.B.S. Haldane and famous Statistician Dr. C.R. Rao . The topic of his doctorate thesis was "Genetic Studies of the Andhra Pradesh population".
Eminent scientists who inspired him were Nirmal Kumar Bose (Anthropologist and former secretary to Mahatma Gandhi), and Satyendra Nath Bose (Physicist) in Calcutta; as well as visiting scientists in Calcutta such as T. Dobzhansky from Columbia University, New York, and Ernst Mayr from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dronamraju received advanced training at University College, London, and Johns Hopkins University Medical School, USA followed by Post-doctoral Fellowship in Genetics at the University of Alberta, Canada.
After he moved to the USA, he continued research on inbreeding in human populations such as the Amish population in Pennsylvania in collaboration with Victor McKusick at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
His research continued in the USA covering several investigations in human population genetics, including the Seneca Indians in New York State and others both in the US and Canada.
A major contribution was his series of research papers on the etiology of cleft lip and palate, making a significant and original contribution to the relationship between fetal mortality and the occurrence of oral cleft defects in families.
His significant contributions to science include several studies in plant biometry.
On the other side, he is also a Registered Sex Offender (Reported by the Texas State)
Dr. Krishna R. Dronamraju was a student and close associate of J.B.S. Haldane, receiving his Ph.D. in genetics in 1966 from the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta. His research publications cover several subjects. These are briefly described below.
(a) Sympatric speciation: His first research (under Haldane's direction) revealed the species-specific pattern of colour preferences by pollinating lepidoptera, while visiting the two varieties of Lantana camara L, one with white-pink flowers and another with orange-yellow flowers. His observations provided evidence supporting at least partial reproductive isolation between the two plant varieties, raising the possibility of sympatric speciation by further isolation and differentiation in due course (Nature, 186: 178, 1960). The existence of such sympatric situations was considered unlikely by Ernst Mayr.
(b) Y-linked inheritance in man. Another research finding of fundamental significance was the proof provided by Dronamraju's research (conducted under Haldane's direction) on human pedigrees that the trait "hairy ears" (hypertrichosis pinnae auris) represents Y-chromosome linked pattern of inheritance (Journal of Genetics, 57: 230, 1960). Until then, the prevailing view, which was supported by Curt Stern and other leading geneticists, was that the human Y chromosome was genetically inert. Dronamraju's research led the way in the 1960s to change that view. It was also the centerpiece of his Ph.D. dissertation that was submitted to the Indian Statistical Institute in 1964.
(c) Human inbreeding: Dronamraju and his colleagues led the study of human inbreeding in Andhra Pradesh, reporting the highest inbreeding coefficient in human populations known at that time (Journal of Genetics, 58: 387, 1963). His publications on the high degree of inbreeding and its impact have had a worldwide influence on all later investigators both in India and other countries.
(d) Cleft lip and Cleft palate in association with fetal mortality: In a series of papers published in Clinical Genetics (vols.23-27, 1983-85), Dronamraju showed that there is a positive correlation between the degree of liability to oral clefts and the extent of fetal mortality in their sibships, indicating that the fetal loss occurring in these families is most likely due to increased multifactorial liability resulting in complex malformations that are associated with clefting in the fetuses. These results, which are indicative of prenatal selection, are summarized in his book: Cleft Lip and Palate: Aspects of Reproductive Biology (1986).
(e) Biotechnology and the impact of recombinant DNA research: Dronamraju's books made a significant intellectual contribution to the subject, summarizing and evaluating the latest advances and the controversies they generated. These are: Biological and Social Issues in Biotechnology Sharing (1998), and Biological Wealth and Other Essays (2002).
(f) Genetics of infectious diseases: His two recent books on infectious diseases, (based on international conferences organized by himself in the UK and Italy), are a valuable contribution to the study of infectious diseases, providing insights on the genetics and epidemiology of malaria. These books are: Infectious Disease and Host-Pathogen Evolution (2004), and Malaria: Genetic and Evolutionary Aspects (2006).
(g) History of Genetics: In several papers and books, Dronamraju made a significant contribution to the history of genetics, especially the contributions and the impact of J.B.S. Haldane. Of particular interest are: (ed) Selected Genetic Papers of JBS Haldane (1990), Foundations of Human Genetics (1989), and The History and Development of Human Genetics (1992). Also, his paper on Haldane which was published in the Notes & Records of the Royal Society of London. (1987).
(h) Social consequences of Genetics: Dronamraju's book: (ed) Haldane's Daedalus Revisited (1995) presents an excellent discussion of the ethical and social impact of the applications of genetics.
(i) Scientific biography: He is the author of two biographical books: The Life and Work of JBS Haldane with special reference to India (1985) and The Life and Work of Julian Huxley (1993). In addition, he is the author of several biographical articles on the scientific works of JBS Haldane, Erwin Schrödinger, Julian Huxley, George W. Beadle, Archibald Garrod, William Bateson, Herman J. Muller and others.
Dr. Dronamraju was a member of the U.S. Presidential delegation to India led by President Bill Clinton in 2000. Since 1990, he actively promoted the scientific cooperation between the U.S. and India. In particular, he has been a strong advocate of the intellectual property rights of the indigenous people and the biodiversity of the developing countries.