Gautam Radhakrishna Desiraju
|Gautam R Desiraju|
21 August 1952 |
Madras, Tamil Nadu, India
|Fields||structural chemistry, X-ray crystallography|
|Institutions||Indian Institute of Science|
|Alma mater||University of Bombay, University of Illinois|
|Known for||Crystal engineering, hydrogen bonding|
Gautam Desiraju has played a major role in the development of crystal engineering for nearly three decades. He, among others, has been responsible in recent times for the acceptance of the theme of weak hydrogen bonding in structural and supramolecular chemistry. His books on crystal engineering (1989) and on the weak hydrogen bond in structural chemistry and biology (1999) are especially notable. He has co-authored a textbook in crystal engineering (2011). He is one of the most highly cited Indian chemists and has been recognised by a number of awards such as the Alexander von Humboldt Forschungspreis and the TWAS award in Chemistry. He served as President of the International Union of Crystallography for the triennium 2011–2014.
Gautam Desiraju was born 21 August 1952 in Madras, India. He had his schooling in Cathedral and John Connon Boys School in Bombay and obtained his B.Sc. (1972) from St. Xavier's College, Bombay. He obtained his Ph.D. (1976) from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he worked under the supervision of David Y. Curtin and Iain C. Paul. He worked between 1976 and 1978 in the Research Laboratories of Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY. From 1978 to 1979 he was a research fellow in the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He joined the University of Hyderabad in 1979 as a lecturer and was promoted as reader in 1984 and professor in 1990. He spent a year (1988–1989) in the CR&D department of DuPont in Wilmington as a visiting scientist. After 30 years in the University of Hyderabad, he joined the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore in 2009. He is a member of the editorial advisory boards of Angewandte Chemie, Journal of the American Chemical Society and Chemical Communications. He is the immediate past president of the International Union of Crystallography. He was the chair of the first Gordon Research Conference in Crystal Engineering, which was held in 2010. He is a recipient of an honorary doctorate degree of the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina.
Major research contributions
Desiraju's major contribution to the subject of crystal engineering has been the development of the concept of the supramolecular synthon, which is a small sub-structural unit that is an adequate enough representation of the entire crystal structure of a molecular solid. The major problem in crystal engineering is that the prediction of a crystal structure from a molecular structure is very difficult, and not easily derivable from functional groups. Identification of supramolecular synthons simplifies this otherwise intractable problem so that some progress may be made in the design of a particular crystal structure. His review on this subject in Angewandte Chemie in 1995 now has more than 3000 citations and is a major landmark in the area. The supramolecular synthon concept is now widely used by crystal engineers notably in the design of pharmaceutical co-crystals, which are important from scientific and commercial viewpoints. Crystal engineering is effectively like supramolecular synthesis in the solid state, and there is a direct analogy between the supramolecular synthon of Desiraju and the molecular synthon that was proposed for organic synthesis by E. J. Corey.
Desiraju's second major contribution has been to recognise that weakly activated groups like the C-H group can act as donors of hydrogen bonds in molecular and biomolecular systems. These weak hydrogen bonds had been discussed sporadically since the 1930s, but it was only after the 1980s that the idea of a weakly activated group forming hydrogen bonds gained acceptance in the chemical community. Desiraju was among the few structural chemists who argued in those early days that the C-H...O and other weak interactions have a hydrogen bond character.
Desiraju has authored around 400 publications, and in addition to the three books on crystal engineering and hydrogen bonding mentioned above, he has edited three multi-author books on these topics in structural chemistry. He has guided the PhD work of 35 students over the past 35 years.
Desiraju has authored several commentaries on science, the evolution of chemistry as a subject, emergence and complexity, and research habits and practices in various cultures. He has also written articles about the state of science education and research in India,, and about the current status of chemistry research in India, where he has identified problems and suggested solutions in situations that are, in part, expected in a country that is rooted in the traditional but yet aspires for the contemporary.
His two authored books have around 3000 and 5000 cites each. His 1995 review in Angewandte Chemie has been cited more than 3000 times. Five of his ~400 publications have been cited 1000 or more times, 20 over 200, and 52 over 100. He has an h-index of 72 and this makes him one of the most highly cited scientists in India.
References and notes
- Desiraju, G. R.: "Crystal Engineering. The Design of Organic Solids", Elsevier, 1989.
- Desiraju, G. R. and Steiner, T.: "The Weak Hydrogen Bond in Structural Chemistry and Biology", Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Desiraju, G. R., Vittal, J. J. and Ramanan, A.:"Crystal Engineering. A Textbook", World Scientific, 2011
- Desiraju, G. R.: "Supramolecular Synthons in Crystal Engineering. A New Organic Synthesis", Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. Engl., 1995, 34, 2311.
- Desiraju, G. R.: "Chemistry. The Middle Kingdom", Current Science, 2005, 88, 374.
- Desiraju, G. R.: "Bold strategies for Indian science", Nature, 2012, 484, 159.
- Arunan, E., Brakaspathy, R., Desiraju, G. R., Sivaram, S.: "Chemistry in India: Unlocking the Potential", Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed., 2013, 52, 114.
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