Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur
University of California, San Diego, USA (November 2005-September 2008)
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune
Trained as a chemist till my Master’s, I took the challenge of pursuing an interdisciplinary research career by first carryout my doctoral thesis in Bioorganic Chemistry. This was the stepping stone, which enabled me to purse postdoctoral research in the field of nucleic acid chemistry and biophysics. I started my research in nucleic acids by developing methods to generate synthetic nucleobase polymers as biocatalysts (during Ph. D) and then went on to select RNA aptamers and develop nucleic acid sensors during my postdoctoral program. I joined IISER, Pune in November 2008, and started to establish my research group with the primary focus on developing novel fluorescence nucleoside probes that would allow the investigation of RNA conformational dynamics at the nucleotide level. We were successful in developing new conformation- and environment-sensitive fluorescent nucleoside analogues, which we aptly utilized in devising assays to monitor nucleic acid lesions, nucleic acid-drug interaction and dynamics of oligonucleotides in cell-like confined environment.
Having gained sufficient expertise in designing conformation-sensitive probes, we embarked on a more challenging and long-standing problem in nucleic acid that is understanding structure-function relationship of nucleic acids in cellular environment. Particularly, we were interested in designing tools to identify the topology adopted by G-quadruplex forming G-rich elements inside the cell. In this context, we are currently developing multifunctional nucleoside probes to decode the structure-function relationship of G-quadruplex forming proto-oncogenic DNA and RNA sequences by using fluorescence, NMR and X-ray crystallography techniques. Such comprehensive understanding of nucleic acids in equilibrium, 3D and in cells is expected to have profound implications in the development of new nucleic acid diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies.