Dr. Kanury V.S. Rao obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry from M.S. University, Vadodara, India in 1983. This was followed by a short stint as a post-doctoral fellow in the Division of Environmental Chemistry of the Johns Hopkins University. Subsequently, he switched his interests from Chemistry to Biology and moved as a post-doctoral fellow to the Molecular Biology Institute in UCLA in early 1985. For the next four years he was engaged in probing crosstalk between growth factor and steroid receptor signaling in breast cancer cells. He returned to India to join the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in December of 1988 and initiated work on mechanisms regulating T-dependent humoral responses. In 1995 he established a separate group, the Immunology Group at ICGEB, and served as Head of this group. Over the subsequent years, Kanury employed a combination of tools in cellular, molecular, biophysical, and structural biology, to address some of the key questions pertaining to mechanisms guiding the induction, maturation, and propagation of the antibody response. His interests then evolved into systems biology as means of rationalizing the complexity of signaling pathways, and the mechanisms by which they decode information to drive a context-defined cellular phenotypic response. He also later became interested in using the tools of systems analysis to understand the mechanisms by which Mycobacterium tuberculosis adapts within the hostile intracellular milieu of the host macrophage. To this end, he integrated a range of high-throughput biology approaches including genome-wide RNAi screen, proteomics, lipidomics, and metabolomics, by employing computational and mathematical tools. This work led to the development of new drug for TB that is based on the relatively novel concept of targeting a host protein that is coopted by the bacteria for its intracellular survival. The drug is currently in the pre-clinical stages of development.
Recognizing the utility of the tools of Systems Biology in drug target discovery, Kanury established the Drug Discovery Research Centre (DDRC) in July 2013. This Centre was instituted under the aegis of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India; and is a niche center of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute. DDRC is a multi-disciplinary Centre that aims to apply systems-level approaches and perspectives for both understanding disease-specific perturbations, and development of new therapeutic strategies. As Head of the Centre, Kanury is responsible for defining its overall charter, while shaping and driving the scientific programs.