Prof. Geeta Narlikar
In 2017, the University of California, San Francisco, handed over the charge to the prestigious department of Biochemistry and Biophysics into the hands of Prof. Geeta Narlikar, appointing her to the Lewis and Ruth Cozen Chair I. Her distinguished journey, involving her role as a Professor at UCSF and an expert in the fields of epigenetic regulation and genome organization, is a splendid embodiment of patience and perseverance. With successful collaboration in over 80 articles and an astounding citation count of 8000+, Prof. Geeta has earned a reputed profile and has brought a revolution in the field of genetic biology, owing to her insightfulness and seamless fervor.
The endowment of scientific temperament and contemplation from her father, Mr. J.V. Narlikar, a celebrated Indian astrophysicist, and her mother, Mrs. Mangala Narlikar, a mogul in advanced and simple arithmetic, impelled her to chase her ambitions and achieve a life she had envisaged. Prof. Geeta completed her M.Sc. in Chemistry from IIT Bombay in 1992, following which she did her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1998. Enrollment for postdoctoral research at the Harvard Medical School was a feather in the cap for the doyen.
With the determination to do avant-garde work in genome organization having sprouted in her mind from adolescence, Prof. Narlikar and her research team at UCSF, the Narlikar Lab, have carried out fabulous investigations and pioneering work on how the folding and compartmentalization of our genome is regulated to generate the many cell types that make up our body. Such imperative discoveries and groundbreaking disruptions from her team will soon be changing textbook descriptions of genome packaging, while also suggesting new avenues to tackle diseases caused by defects in genome organization, one of the most pressing and debated dialogues in the realm of genetic biology. Her resplendent knowledge and astute experience in this field also enabled her to find traction at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), as a lecturer in its Keynote Lecture Series. Despite the escalating discoveries in her field and extremely stiff competition, Prof. Geeta’s immense dedication to research has earned her awards of great honor, including the Beckman Young Investigator Award (2006), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award (2008) and the Deleage Prize awarded by the Deleage foundation (2017). To add to her accolades, she was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Mentorship Award by the UCSF Graduate Students Association in 2011 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Bombay in 2018.
While at IITB, she associated herself with the mountaineering group, where she was introduced to hiking in the Sahyadris and to the majestic vistas atop the old forts, which often reminded her of the rich and traditional histories of those places. Reminiscing about the strong friendships she made with her fellow H10 batchmates, she affirms that even now, she connects and chats with them with the same ease as at tiffin time in the mess. A prudent and sagacious mentor, she believes that kindling the fire of curiosity within students and consistently supporting their initiatives proliferates their ingenuity and brings out the best in them. Maintaining that “optimism with a healthy dose of pragmatism” is the recipe to drive away predicaments and embrace the pinnacle of success, she has rightfully proved her mettle and set a paragon for women to apprise and follow.