Early Life and Education of Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao
Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao was born on April 2, 1935, in Guntur coastal city of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. He completed his graduation in Bachelors of Science (B.Sc) in Chemistry from A. C. College under Andhra University in 1956 and worked there for a year as a demonstrator, before moving to Mumbai where he secured his post graduation degree B.Sc (Technology) in Pharmaceuticals and Fine Chemicals from the University Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT) under University of Mumbai, in 1960. This was followed by his doctorate studies (PhD) in Technology at National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune under the supervision of K. Venkataraman, which he completed in 1964.
Research Experience of Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao
Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao continued his research post PhD at NCL, working there as scientist B and in 1975, he collaborated with Elias James Corey, 1991 Nobel laureate in Chemistry, at the Harvard University for a two-year stint at research along with the American organic chemist. They together worked on the total synthesis of Maytansine, an anti-tumour macrolide. He returned to India in 1977 and continued his researches at NCL for another eight years, rising to the position of scientist F and head of the organic chemistry division in 1980. He moved from NCL to the Regional Research Laboratory in Hyderabad as its Director, in 1985, and subsequently renamed it as Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT). Under his leadership, IICT emerged as the most reputed institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India’s autonomous and largest R&D (research and development) organisation. His contributions in transforming IICT into "The most improved laboratory in India" were recognised by Sir John Madox, Editor of Nature, in December 1993. He was a visiting scientist at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, where he worked with Sir Derek Harold Richard Barton, English organic chemist and 1969 Nobel laureate. One year before his superannuation from IICT, where he worked till 1996, he established AVRA Laboratories Private Limited in Hyderabad and became a scientist entrepreneur. Today, he is the Managing Director there. AVRA Laboratories was established to conduct high end contract research and manufacture intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredients for the medical industry. The company operates from three centres in Hyderabad and one in Visakhapatnam. He also serves as the Managing Director of AVRA Synthesis Private Limited, sister concern of AVRA Laboratories and holds directorship of The Andhra Sugars Limited, manufacturers of industrial chemicals and supplies.
Academic and Research Achievements of Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao
During the early part of his stay at NCL, Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao worked on the isolation and structural elucidation of plant and insect pigments, and on synthetic dyes. Post his return from Harvard University, his researches were marked by some amazing achievements in the synthesis of biologically active natural products, such as anti-tumour antibiotics, macrolide, immuno-suppressants, cyclic peptides, etc., representing complexity, diversity and aesthetics of modern asymmetric synthesis. Dr. Rama Rao has published more than 260 Research papers and mentored 109 PhD students in organic synthesis.
Besides his extensive and illustrious experience in the research domain, Dr. Rao has served for several National and International policy making organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ozone Cell of United Nations Environmental Protection Agency. His outstanding contribution in industrial research helped the Indian drug industry not only to establish a strong base for indigenous production of several essential drugs at much cheaper prices, but also led to exports.
Awards and Honours received by Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao
Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao has been recognised with numerous awards and honours, for his contribution in the field of scientific research.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research instituted a lecture series, ‘A. V. Rama Rao Lecture Series’, composed of Foundation lectures and Prize lectures, to commemorate Dr. Rao’s 70th birthday. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), in association with AVRA Laboratories, has also instituted an award lecture in his honour. Archive for Organic Chemistry issued a commemorative issue in 2005 to mark the 70th birth year of Dr. Rama Rao.
Personal Life of Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao
Dr. Alla Venkata Rama Rao married Hymavathy, during his early years at NCL and the couple has two sons, Chandra and Ramakrishna, both doctorate holders in chemistry and assisting their father at AVRA Laboratories. The family stays in Hyderabad, attending to the businesses of AVRA Laboratories and AVRA Synthesis.