Indian researcher among America's top scholars
By agencies | Friday, 21 October 2005, 07:00 Hrs
Sudhir Kumar, director of the Center for Evolutionary Functional Genomics in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, recently joined the elite ranks of most-cited researchers, having the fourth-highest number of citations in the field of computer science over the last decade. Kumar was the sixth-highest ranked researcher in the field of computer science (out of 1,826 authors) over the last decade. The data was gathered from the Institute for Scientific Information's (ISI) Essential Science Indicators from January 1995 to June of this year. The latest rankings are indicative of a prolific publication career for Kumar, whose works have received two prestigious ISI "Hot Paper" in biology designations in 2000 and 2004. The first one was published in the journal Nature and demonstrated a molecular time scale for vertebrate evolution. The second one was published in the journal Bioinformatics and outlined the components of the MEGA software (www.megasoftware.net); this paper is among the most highly cited papers in computer science over the last decade. Among his more than 60 papers and two books the two "Hot Papers", were cited among the most of any in their fields. Kumar, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences at ASU, is an interdisciplinary scientist who brings problem-solving skills from his undergraduate engineering background together with his knowledge of evolutionary genetics from his doctoral work to tackle modern challenges in functional and evolutionary genomics. He is a renowned world expert in the field of evolutionary bioinformatics. Currently Kumar leads a team of interdisciplinary scientists who are developing new computer-based methods of studying and analyzing the tens of thousands of genes in humans and related species, enabling researchers to learn their functions and origins. The winner of a prestigious Innovation Award in Functional Genomics from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Kumar focuses on easier and more efficient ways to ascertain what thousands of genes do and how they influence human disease. Kumar identifies genes by their family groupings. A critical element of Kumar's approach is to develop computer-based methods for simultaneously studying hundreds of thousands of gene sequences, called functional footprints. "These functional footprints are used to sequence information to predict what a gene may do," says Kumar. Using GenoTechs' AstroMark for his database front-end, Kumar is creating a Web-based solution to allow other scientists worldwide to access his extensive collection of functional footprints. AstroMark is a software product suite that enables application developers, Web page designers, and business owners to create robust data-driven Web applications that can run on computer desktops, LAN, and the Internet. Kumar has authored more than 50 research articles; led the team that developed a software package for molecular evolutionary genetics analysis (MEGA; 1993 2005); and co-authored a book, "Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics" (first edition, 2000) that has been translated in three languages. His evolutionary bioinformatics laboratory is building evolutionary time scales and tools for genetic analysis. Kumar received his BE in Electrical/Electronics Engineering and MSc in Biological Sciences from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences in India, and his PhD in Genetics from Pennsylvania State University.