Obaid Siddiqi (1932-2013) was the co-founder and first Centre Director of the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore. Siddiqi worked extensively on genetic neurobiology of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. He found a set of temperature-sensitive paralytic mutants that exhibit defects in electrical activity of nerves and muscles, which led to a deeper understanding of ionic mechanisms involved in nerve conduction and synaptic transmission. His pioneering work on neurogenetics of chemical senses, taste and smell, led to the identification of a variety of genes that control of chemosensory of Drosophila. In recognition of his scientific contributions, Siddiqi was conferred with the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibushan and was also elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). The Obaid Siddiqi papers are organised in 77 archival boxes and in the following series: Series 1. Correspondence Series 2. Administration Series 3. Talks and writings Series 4. Research Series 5. Supervision and reviews Series 6. Biographical and personal Series 7. Photographs and objects Series 8. Published reference material
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1939 - 2013
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Obaid Siddiqi (1932-2013) was a pioneering neuroscientist, a molecular biologist, a geneticist and an institution builder. Siddiqi was born in 1932 and received his education at the Aligarh Muslim University. He then went on to get his PhD from the University of Glasgow, under the guidance of Guido Pontecorvo. He did his post-doctoral research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and at the University of Pennsylvania. During this time, he discovered a class of mutations in alkaline phosphatase gene of E. coli. In 1961, Siddiqi, in collaboration with Garen, discovered suppressor of nonsense mutations in the gene for alkaline phosphatase. It was a discovery that eventually led to the notion of "stop" codons in the genetic code and the mechanism of chain termination during protein synthesis.
In 1962, Obaid Siddiqi returned to India on the invitation of Homi Bhabha and joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Bombay. Here he set up one of the first Molecular Biology Units in the country. Siddiqi is known perhaps as much for his efforts in institution building as he is for his science. Based on ideas that germinated in the late 1970s, he co-founded the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS) at Bangalore in the early 1990s and was its first director. Here he did pioneering work until his untimely death in 2013.
In the early seventies, Siddiqi, after extensive collaborations with Seymour Benzer, took to genetic neurobiology of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. He found a set of temperature-sensitive paralytic mutants that exhibit defects in electrical activity of nerves and muscles. This discovery led to a deeper understanding of ionic mechanisms involved in nerve conduction and synaptic transmission. Siddiqi and his associates did pioneering work on neurogenetics of chemical senses, taste and smell. They identified a variety of genes that control chemosensory behaviour of Drosophila. Some of these genes control sensory transduction; others regulate the formation of the neural network in the fly's brain. His work opened up the prospects of an integrated behaviour-genetic and neurobiological approach to the study of sensory perception, which led to an improved understanding of how olfactory information is encoded in the brain of the fly.
Siddiqi advised and guided a large number of PhD students and published papers in several national and international journals.
As an institution builder and the founding director of the National Center for Biological Sciences, NCBS, he showed personal interest in both its architectural and administrative aspects. His team was responsible for hiring of the early faculty, putting into place the institution’s administrative structure and developing it into a reputed center of excellence in Biology. He also helped the growth of other science institutions in an advisory capacity.
Among his several other interests were his love for Indian classical music, his keen interest in Indian history and visual arts.
Siddiqi's contributions have been widely recognized. He was elected to several academies including all the National Academies in India, the Royal Society, London, the US National Academy of Sciences and the Third World Academy, Trieste. He served as the former President of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Siddiqi held visiting professorships at Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Caltech and Cambridge Universities. He was twice the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at Caltech and was a life member of the Clare Hall, Cambridge. The Aligarh Muslim University, the Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Hamdard, Kalyani University, IIT Kanpur and Jamia Millia conferred upon him honorary degrees of D.Sc. He was the recipient of several prizes and awards, including the country’s prestigious civilian awards, the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
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Archives at NCBS, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore -560065
The Obaid Siddiqi Papers are sourced from his former office in NCBS in 2016. In addition, the Siddiqi family donated a lot of his personal books, photographs and manuscripts to the Archives in 2016-17.
The material is in a good condition except some very old files.
- MS-001 Obaid Siddiqi Collection
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