Eminent scientist and ‘father of DNA fingerprinting in India’ Lalji Singh died following a heart attack on Sunday. He was 70.
Dr. Singh was one of the leaders instrumental in making DNA fingerprinting mainstream in India, both at the level of research as well as for forensic applications.
This was after techniques advanced by him led to DNA profiling being used to establish parentage as well as solve some high profile crime cases in India.
Based on his work he was tasked by the government — in the late 1990s — to establish the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) with a mandate of making it a nodal centre for DNA fingerprinting and diagnostics for all species and several diseases.
He also set up a slew of dedicated labs that worked on several aspects of genetics such as population biology, structural biology and transgenic research.
Dr. Singh served as a director at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad from 1998 to 2009.
He went on to become Vice Chancellor of the Banaras Hindu University (2001 – 2014), his alma mater.
Until recently, he was active in the Genome Foundation, a non-profit organisation that aims to diagnose and treat genetic disorders affecting the underprivileged, especially from rural India.
“He complained of chest pain when he reached the Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport to board a flight for Delhi. He was taken to the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Trauma Centre from there but he could not be saved,” O P Upadhyaya, chief medical superintendent of the Sunder Lal hospital in the BHU, said.
Singh, the 25th vice chancellor of the BHU, hailed from neighbouring Jaunpur district’s Kalvari village.
He was also an alumnus of the BHU and completed his BSc, MSc and PhD degrees from there.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath condoled Singh’s death.
“Lalji Singh was the father of DNA fingerprinting. The country has lost a great educationist and scientist after his death,” he said.
Singh was also the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri award.