Usha Vijayraghavan obtained her BSc (Hons) from University of Delhi and her MSc from Postgraduate Institute for Medical Education and Research (PGI), Chandigarh. She did her doctoral studies on yeast molecular genetics at California Institute of Technology with Professor J Abelson. Subsequently, she worked on plant genetics as a Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor E Meyerowitz where she began her research on genes that regulate flowering. On returning to India, she took up a Faculty Position (1990) at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore where she is working now as Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology. Her research group at IISc uses molecular genetics and functional genomics to understand various aspects of how gene activity is regulated in yeasts and plants.
Academic and Research Achievements: Since joining IISc, one of Usha Vijayraghavan's research aims is to study genes that control flowering and plant morphology. Using molecular genetics and genomics, her researches involve deciphering mechanisms by which gene activity is regulated to control cell division and differentiation. To understand this in the context of development of an organism, her group has used the rice plant as a model. Her investigations on the RFL gene identified elements that control its expression in spatially distinct domains. Once activated, RFL controls a cascade of downstream genes to regulate flowering time and plant architecture. Her laboratory is also studying aspects of gene regulation that are post-transcriptional regulation. They have investigated the genome-wide impact of pre-mRNA splicing on the expression of yeast genome to understand the link between this step of gene regulation and cell division. Overall, her studies on regulatory factors are providing key insights to gene regulation, cell division and differentiation. Nine students have so far obtained their PhD under her supervision.
Other Contributions: Usha Vijayraghavan has been a Member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, and also of some DBT Reviewing committees. She has been serving as Associate Editor for the Journal of Genetics. Earlier, she served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biosciences.
Awards and Honours: Usha Vijayraghavan received many honors and awards such as DBT National Bioscience Award, Sir CV Raman Award for Young Scientists by Government of Karnataka, International Senior Research Fellowship Award by Wellcome Trust, UK, and Rockefeller Foundation Biotechnology Career Development Award. She was elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (2007).