World-renowned chemist and inventor Dr. A.V. Rama Rao delivered a lecture commemorating University of Hyderabad’s Foundation Day (2018) on October 24th at the DST Auditorium. Currently engaged as the Chairman and Managing Director of his organisation Avra Laboratories Private Limited, Dr. Rao delivered the lecture titled “Reflections from a personal journey as Scientist, Technologist and Entrepreneur” reminiscing on his accomplished career which has seen him work in collaboration with pharmaceutical giants like Cipla and win numerous awards, including the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan.

Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Appa Rao Podile welcomed Dr. Rao on the dais and gave a brief presentation of the University over its forty-five years of existence. Pro Vice-Chancellor (1), Prof. Arun Agarwal delivered the welcome address. Pro Vice-Chancellor (2), Prof. Prakash Babu introduced the speaker to the audience.

Dr. Rao started by recapping his humble beginnings as a school student where he failed to clear his SSC exam in the first attempt, and explained how he gradually started taking more interest in the subject of Chemistry and decided to pursue his B.Sc with a major in the subject at A.C. College, Andhra University. He also discussed his responsibilities as a student leader in college and his work at his alma mater as a demonstrator. He elaborated on his decision to pursue higher education at University of Mumbai followed by a Ph.D. under the guidance of K. Venkatraman, the first Indian director of the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL). His research was initially focused on synthetic dyes. He shared informative highlights and anecdotes from his time as the Director of the Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT, then known as Regional Research Laboratory), where his work is highly regarded to this date. He also touched upon his hard work and struggles as an entrepreneur that led to the foundation of Avra Laboratories in 1995. His reflections on interactions with big names from the scientific, academic, and political circuits were highly enlightening for the audience.

Dr. Rao shared some examples of his path-breaking research in development of anti-tumour, anti-cancer, and HIV drugs for the benefit of students and faculty in attendance. He concluded the lecture by advising the students to “Dare and Dream” and encouraging them to pursue excellence in scientific research. Prof. B. Rajashekhar from the School of Management delivered the thanking note and Prof. Appa Rao Podile concluded the lecture by felicitating Dr. Rao.

The Foundation Day lecture was followed by a soulful Violin concert by D. V. K Vasudevan. Fondly known as “Violin Vasu”, Mr. Vasudevan has performed at prestigious venues and events across the globe which has brought him followers from over 40 countries. He has also initiated, instituted, and taught courses in music at prestigious institutes like IIT, IIIT-Hyderabad, and University of Hyderabad.

He was accompanied by Vidwan K Srinivasarao (Mridangam), Vidwan Chandrakanth (Ghatam) and Aditi Vasudevan (Violin support).

-R. Sidharth, Department of Communication

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