By Syed Aslam
Obaid Siddiqui was born in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, India. He completed his Master in Biology from Aligarh Muslim University in 1953. After teaching at Aligarh for a while he came to England and finished his PhD. from the University of Glasgow in in the year 1961 where he worked in the Department of Genetics.
Obaid Siddiqui was offered a post-doctoral position at the MIT to work with , Dr. Alan Garen, a well known man in genetics. He came to MIT worked there for a while and then they moved to the University of Pennsylvania. Together they discovered the suppressors of â€œnonsenseâ€ mutations that led to the discovery of â€œnonsenseâ€ codons, the stop signals in the genetic code. In early seventies he moved to California to work with Dr. Seymour Benzer of the California Institute of Technology. Their work led to identification of several genes that control nerve conduction and synaptic transmission. Obaid and his associatesâ€™ pioneering work on neurogenetics of fruit fly, Drosophila, has opened up the prospects of an integrated genetic and neurobiological investigation of chemosensory perception.
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, invited him to start a molecular biology group at the institute . Obaid recruited top-class scientists and put the Institutesâ€™s molecular biology group on world map of genetics. Later, with the support of government of India, he founded National Center for Biological Sciences at Bangalore. The aim of this Center is basic research in the frontier areas of biology and currently it has many distinguished scientists working in various fields with state-of-the-art facilities.
Prof. Siddiqiâ€™s contributions have been widely recognized. He has been 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 is a former President of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Prof. Siddiqi has held visiting professorships at Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Caltech and Cambridge University. He was twice Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at Caltech and is a life member of the Clare Hall, Cambridge. The Aligarh Muslim University, the Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Hamdard, Kalyani University and IIT Kanpur have conferred upon him honorary degrees of D.Sc. He has received many prizes and awards, including the civil honors Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.