Famed Indian Biologist Dies

Obaid Siddiqi, regarded as one of the founders of modern biology in India, has passed away at age 81.

By | August 1, 2013

Obaid Siddiqi passed away on July 26 at age 81 VENKI RAMAKRISHNAN

Acclaimed Indian scientist Obaid Siddiqi died on Friday (July 26) at age 81 from injuries suffered when he was struck by a moped 2 days prior. Siddiqi, still actively engaged in research at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore at the time of the accident, is credited with several pioneering achievements in the fields of genetics and molecular biology, including the discovery of stop codons in the genetic code and the mechanism of chain termination in polypeptide synthesis.

Upon founding the Molecular Biology Unit at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, in 1962—considered a seminal moment for the field of biology in India—Siddiqi successfully recruited to the institute many prominent scientists of Indian origin who had studied in the United States. In the 1970s, his work with Seymour Benzer at Caltech to discover temperature-sensitive paralytic Drosophila mutants spawned the age of behavioral genetics. A decade later, his further explorations into Drosophila genetics led to the understanding of how taste and smell are encoded in the brain.

Over the course of his career, Siddiqi served as president of the Indian Academy of Science and was a member of the Royal Society in London, the US National Academy of Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences. He is survived by his wife Asiya, sons Imran and Kaleem, and daughters Yumna and Diba.

“Siddiqi was among that crop of scientists who helped lay the foundation of our country’s scientific research effort,” said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a statement. “Siddiqi will be missed deeply by his friends and colleagues as a great researcher, educationist and a very warm human being.”

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Avatar of: Jay Thakar

Jay Thakar

Posts: 16

August 2, 2013

Passing away of Dr. Obaid Siddiqi is a great loss to Indian science. He was a pioneer scientist as well as a very good teacher. I have fond memories of going to TIFR to attend his lectures and seminars from BARC in early sixties. He was a very worm person. He surely will be missed and remembered as a brilliant scientist.

Jay Thakar Ph.D. 

Avatar of: Zafar Iqbal, PhD

Zafar Iqbal, PhD

Posts: 9

August 2, 2013

The world has lost a great scientist, who always wanted to help others and keep himself out of limelight.  He is considered the pioneer of molecular biology in India. It will be an appropriate gesture to honor this remarkable soul by naming the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore after him.  I would appeal to fellow scientists in India to work for this.

Zafar Iqbal. Ph.D.

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