Brief Biodata of Dr. R. M. Sundaram, Director, ICAR-IIRR

Brief Biodata of Dr. Raman Meenakshi Sundaram, Director, ICAR-Indian Institute of Rice Research (ICAR-IIRR), Hyderabad, India  

Dr. Sundaram completed his B.Sc. (Agri) from PAJANCOA, Karaika (a constituent colleague of TNAU- Coimbatore), M.Sc. (Agri) in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology as a DBT Research Fellow and PhD in Plant Sciences at University of Hyderabad as a CSIR-JRF. He joined ICAR-IIRR (then known as Directorate of Rice Research) through Agricultural Research Service as a Scientist in the Biotechnology Section in 1998 and his studies are focused biotic stress resistance, hybrid rice applications of biotechnology and product development through transgenic breeding. 

He was appointed by Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) as Director of ICAR-IIRR, since April 2021, and he is also leading the Coordinated Research in rice in India, through All India Coordinated Research Project on Rice (AICRPR) and also serving as the coordinator ICAR Consortia Research Platform on Crop Biofortification (CRP-Biofortification). 

He is very well known for his work in trait characterization, molecular studies and molecular breeding in rice, which has culminated in identification of few novel genes, development of several products, high-impact publications and a few National awards and laurels. 

In collaboration with CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad, his research team was instrumental in development and release of one of first biotech products in rice, which is a high yielding, bacterial blight resistant, fine-grain type rice variety possessing low glycemic index (50.9), named Improved Samba Mahsuri (RPBio-226). It is one of the first marker-assisted selection (MAS) products in the country and is being cultivated in > 7,00,000 ha across the country. This development has paved the way for marker-assisted improvement of several improved breeding lines of varieties and hybrids for multiple traits by various research groups in the country, including that of Dr. Sundaram. Recently, his team has developed four other MAS derived varieties, viz., DRR Dhan 53 (Samba Mahsuri durable bacterial blight resistance and 10 % more yield), DRR Dhan 58 (Samba Mahsuri with bacterial blight resistance + Salinity tolerance), DRR Dhan 59 (Akshayadhan with bacterial blight resistance),   DRR Dhan 60 (Samba Mahsuri with bacterial blight resistance and low soil phosphorus tolerance) and DRR Dhan 62 (Samba Mahsuri with bacterial blight resistance and blast resistance), DRR Dhan 66 (MTU1010 with low soil P tolerance) besides contributing towards release of more than 10 rice varieties. His team has also made significant contribution towards application of biotechnological tools in hybrid rice. 

He has undergone intensive training on rice biotechnology at International Rice Research Institute, Philippines, Cornell University and Iowa State University, USA. He has also handled and coordinated several externally funded research projects, published his works in many International (> 140) and National (> 30) Journals and has authored > 40 books/book chapters, technical bulletins and popular articles related to biotechnology and rice. 

He is the recipient of several awards and recognitions which include Lal Bahadur Shastri Outstanding Young Scientist Award of ICAR in 2011, Indo-US Research Fellowship in 2011, Hari Om Ashram Trust Award of ICAR in 2012, CSIR Innovation Award for Rural Development in 2013, PN Behl Award for Excellence in Crop Sciences (2012-13), DBT Award for Biotechnology Product and Process Development and commercialization (2015), etc. 

Besides these, he is a Fellow of National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2019), Fellow of National Academy of Sciences, India (2020), Fellow of Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding (2017), Associate of NAAS (2013) and has received USAID fellowship (2005), IUSSTF Fellowship (2011) and DST-Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation Travel grant (2014). He is serving as Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Rice Research, Academic Editor of PLos One Journal, Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding and is also serving as a member of several National and International Committees