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Renowned molecular biologist Pushpa Mitra Bhargava passes away

P M Bhargava
P M Bhargava
Renowned molecular biologist Pushpa Mitra Bhargava, who was the founder-director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, passed away here today in his sleep.
 
He was 89. He is survived by a son and a daughter. 
 
Dr. Bhargava, who remained active after his retirement some years ago, was suffering from kidney ailments and was undergoing dialysis regularly. He developed fever this morning and was resting at home when he passed away, sources close to him said.
 
"We are very sad to inform you that the founding director of CSIR-CCMB, Dr. Pushpa Mitra Bhargava has passed away today," CCMB announced on Twitter.
 
Born on February 22, 1928, at Ajmer in Rajasthan, Dr. Bhargava received his B.Sc. in 1944 from Queen's College in Uttar Pradesh and then obtained M.Sc. in Organic Chemistry and Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Lucknow University.
 
He moved to Hyderabad and worked in the early 1950s at the then Central Laboratories for Scientific and Industrial Research, now called the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology – IICT, and then at Osmania University.
 
In 1953, he went on a post-doctoral fellowship to the McArdle Memorial Laboratory of Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison in the United States and worked in the laboratory of Charles Heidelberger. During 1956-57, he worked at the National Institute for Medical Research in the United Kingdom as a special Wellcome Trust Research Fellow, a stint that marked his transition from chemistry to biology.
 
He returned to the Central Laboratories for Scientific and Industrial Research in Hyderabad, which had by then been by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and named Regional Research Laboratory (now known as Indian Institute of Chemical Technology).
 
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In 1977, he established the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and retired from there in 1990 to join the newly created CSIR Distinguished Fellowship, from which he was relieved in 1993.
 
CCMB was set up initialy as a semi-autonomous centre in the Biochemistry Division of the then Regional Research Laboratory. During 1981–82, CCMB was accorded the status of a full-fledged national laboratory.
 
Dr. Bhargava also served as Vice-Chairman of the National Knowledge Commission, a member of the National Security Advisory Board and a nominee of the Supreme Court of India on the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee of the Government of India. He was opposed to the approval of GM foods in India.
 
Among other things, he was involved in the promotion of science and rationality and, in 1963, along with Satish Dhawan and Abdur Rahman, founded the Society for the Promotion of Scientific Temper.
 
He was honoured by the Government with the Padma Bhushan, the nation's third highest civilian honour, in 1986. He, however, returned the award in 2015 to protest the alleged rise in intolerance and erosion of space for dissent in the country.
 
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